October 17, 2006
The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) and the Software Freedom Law
Center (SFLC) today announced that they are co-sponsoring a conference
to discuss the impact of software patents on software development,
innovation and competition. The conference, entitled
Patents: A Time for Change?, will be hosted at Boston University
on November 17.
In addition to PUBPAT and SFLC, the conference is being co-organized by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, Boston University Law School, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Research on Innovation.
Speakers at the conference will include representatives from each of the organizers in addition to eBay, Red Hat, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the World Wide Web Consortium.
Current State of Patent Law
In the past few decades, the specialized patent court of appeals in the United States has removed virtually all limits to patentable subject matter and, as a result, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded hundreds of thousands of software patents. Initially, there was little empirical evidence to gauge what the effect of allowing patents to cover software would be. Since then, many have analyzed the effect of patents on the development of software. The conference being co-sponsored by PUBPAT and SFLC will provide an opportunity to consider this growing body of research and its implications for software patent policy.
Over time, it has become increasingly clear that software patents
actually hinder -- rather than promote -- innovation, said Dan
Ravicher, Executive Director of PUBPAT.
A reevaluation of the
consequences of software patents here in America is long overdue,
continued Mr. Ravicher, who will give opening remarks at the
Software patents have a chilling effect on the collaborative
development model of free and open source software, said Richard
Fontana, SFLC Counsel, who will participate on a roundtable at the
conference to consider options for patent reform.
social benefits that patents supposedly provide -- enriching public
knowledge through disclosure, discouraging duplicative research, and
facilitating new technological solutions -- are intrinsic to FOSS but
are endangered by software patents.
Mr. Ravicher and Mr. Fontana are both registered patent attorneys.
For more information on the conference, which will be open to the public, see http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swconf/home.htm