Software Patents and the Australian Free Trade Agreement

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Cheetah, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. Cheetah

    Cheetah Guest

    With the Australian Free Trade Agreement comes a raft of changes to patent
    legislation in Australia. What will the effect be?

    The following story should give you all some background, and links to many
    of the related resources.

    Patents are of course a threat to open source, as they prevent people from
    writing software to meet their needs. The original purpose of patents was
    to have ideas spread. Sadly patents are not even looked at by developers,
    and more often than not an idea is simply co-discovered, ie the developer
    had no connection with the patent, and simply invented the solution.

    Perhaps there should be a rule that for a patent to be valid is should be
    shown that the infringer based their solution on patented technology - and
    that if you invent something without the help of the information in the
    patent the patent should be reconsidered - as it was 'obvious' to more than
    one inventer.

    I just hate all the patents of things which are pretty obvious applications
    of existing technology - XML Schema for word processing documents anyone?
    Cheetah, Aug 17, 2004
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  2. Cheetah

    Harry Guest

    It wont have any effect on open source software.
    Harry, Aug 17, 2004
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  3. Cheetah

    frederick Guest

    .... unless someone wins a court case in the US against an open source
    software supplier, claiming that their intellectual property was stolen.
    I expect that the aussies might have to abide by the US decision,
    irrespective of how the situation may been seen under existing
    international treaties.
    frederick, Aug 17, 2004
  4. Cheetah

    thing Guest

    Actually there is a great risk it will effect OSS. If the US trend is
    followed patent wars will be the next big battle as closed source
    companies struggle with shutting down OSS projects by using patent
    legislation and the US courts. SCO will probbaly be the last huge battle
    to capture Linux, this will fail, the only option left is destroy it.

    If the AUS government allows this that will allow the legal fight to be
    brought to OZ. From there it could get into NZ as our Politicians "do
    what is best for us".

    Software patents for the bleeding obvious means that OZ companies can
    get screwed over by US ones, trouble is the OZ Government can only see
    the US market for its products, and NZ might well follow suit.


    thing, Aug 17, 2004
  5. Cheetah

    thing Guest

    I would think this is coming....if not in 2004 then 2005, im sure such a
    battle needs to be faught within 18 months IMHO. While the EU is still
    considering what to do with software patents i expect kid gloves...but
    the iron fist will be out if the EU follows and ratifies the US model.

    The only question is who will do it. SCO will if possible I suspect,
    that is if there is anything left after IBM blows them away. I dont
    think at present MS will start such a fight directly as that would be
    too much bad PR, although there are signs they are getting desperate.....


    thing, Aug 17, 2004
  6. Cheetah

    Cheetah Guest

    Microsoft hasn't made it much of a secret that it is undertaking to
    dramatically extend its patent portfolio. Microsoft have also made no
    commitment that they will only use it in defence. Rather my discussions
    with people from MS make me believe they are all too willing to "protect
    their intellectual property".

    As we see from Microsofts patent for a XML word processing schema it isn't
    about releasing details of some neat new technology, but rather protecting
    the closed file formats so that open source is locked out. It was actually
    rather clever - since the license that the schema is released under is
    actually based on the old BSD license - and is therefore "open source" but
    incompatible with the GPL.

    Expect to see more of this - formats that lock out the GPL from
    interoperating. I am also expecting to see an attack against Linux directly
    - although if I were MS I would wait until SCO has been dealt with. There
    is also the political issue - if Bush is re-elected the chance of MS being
    dragged before a court for abuse of monopoly is pretty remote. However, if
    Kerry wins the situation will probably not be as friendly for MS, and they
    may be more cautious about stirring up legal entanglements.

    One thing we can't expect is MS to lie down and take a nap while open source
    software destroys its gravy train. They made some big errors last year -
    Software Assurance - but I won't be holding my breath for more big

    Of course, at this point I'm more concerned about open source losing the war
    than MS winning. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies - in that
    organisation is very difficult. Some call it herding cats, and I can't say
    I disagree. If we actually got our ducks in a row we would have a huge
    Cheetah, Aug 17, 2004
  7. Cheetah

    Harry Guest

    Name one single OSS project that has been shut down.

    And isn't the USA all about championing freedom?
    Harry, Aug 17, 2004
  8. Cheetah

    frederick Guest

    I suspect that is the way that MS will counter the threat. It would be
    very interesting to know what the OEM price for XP "lite" will be, but I
    don't expect to find out real soon. It is an logical extension of the
    XP Pro/Home marketing technique.

    The theory is appropriate for setting market specific prices for motor
    cars, by adding and removing "real" features, but the argument for
    selling a "hobbled" version of a software product is less convincing -
    perhaps analogous to getting a large discount on a car that doesn't have
    air conditioning - not because it isn't fitted - but because there isn't
    any way to switch it on.
    frederick, Aug 17, 2004
  9. Cheetah

    Peter Guest

    The expansion of the patent / copyright law is a real concern.
    These mechanisms are a legal monopoly, and bring all the social
    disadvantages and distortions of a monopoly. Currently the large
    corporates are pushing governments (esp USA and EU) to expand these laws in
    areas of software, drugs and music / movies.
    It is very good for the big corporates, as it protects their revenue stream
    and shuts out competitors and new entrants to the market. It is very bad
    for consumers, artists and society as it raises prices and stifles

    These big corporations have massive resources and have great influence with
    governments. This is enabling them to get law changes in their favour.
    The Aust "Free Trade" agreement is just another example, where USA imposes
    their will on Aust, to the disadvantage of Australian consumers and

    The reality is that new ideas aren't created in a vacuum. In real life,
    creative people build on the works of others. It happens this way in
    science, in arts, in engineering, in academia. Shakespeare built his plays
    on earlier works. The great composers developed musical themes of others.
    Science works likewise - Einstein said his theory was built on the
    equations of Maxwell. Charles Darwin's evolution ideas closely follow
    earlier work by his father. Watt's steam engine was simply a development
    of an earlier device. These and many many other great creations were
    acheived without benefit of any copyright or patent law.

    The legal concept that some person or corporation should get exclusive
    ownership of an idea is fundamentally flawed.

    What's worse, patent and copyright benefits the party with the larger legal
    budget. In this, NZ will always be at a disadvantage. You can get the
    solution where an innovative Kiwi comes up with a great idea, but some
    foreign corporate patents it (or something like it) then sues the kiwi out
    of business. This nearly happened with the DE Tech fiasco last year. (See

    There is serious deterioration happening of the creative environment, but
    sadly it is not widely recognised.

    Peter, Aug 17, 2004
  10. DVDx?
    Dave -, Aug 17, 2004
  11. Cheetah

    AD. Guest

    What about ones that are restricted as to what they can implement?

    eg the pf team had plenty of difficulty working around Ciscos patents for
    firewall failover, The Gimp has also had heaps of trouble coming up with
    ways of doing CYMK that isn't covered by Adobe patents.

    Those were just the first two that came to mind, I'm sure there are many

    The danger isn't projects being shut down, it's that they'll become so
    paralysed by patents they won't be able to do much at all.

    This also affects local commercial software companies in countries
    like Australia, not just open source projects. It would have an adverse
    affect on smaller countries own software industries.

    AD., Aug 17, 2004
  12. Cheetah

    Harry Guest

    What is DVDx?
    Harry, Aug 17, 2004
  13. it *was* a DVD ripping and copying software... nope, Im wrong.

    they did have to change something though, but I cant see it in their
    change log yet.
    Dave -, Aug 17, 2004
  14. Cheetah

    theseus Guest

    theseus, Aug 17, 2004
  15. Patrick Dunford, Aug 17, 2004
  16. yep, they are still going, there was some drama about something and they
    suspended downloads a while back, but removed the offending code and
    Dave -, Aug 17, 2004
  17. Cheetah

    thing Guest

    url seems broken


    thing, Aug 18, 2004
  18. Cheetah

    thing Guest

    forgive me but are you serious or trolling?

    read up on what SCO is trying to do.

    MS has long wanted to shutdown samba for one.

    Reverse engineeing of the DVD standard by a Norwegian teenager, so he
    could watch his legally bought DVD on Linux not only that but they
    wanted to jail him....

    USA the champion of really are trolling aren't you?



    thing, Aug 18, 2004
  19. Cheetah

    thing Guest

    I think it is by many, the record labels are pushing a less diverse
    portfolio of artists, they are really just concentrating on profit
    centres pure and simple. So the choice is getting smaller and smaller,
    add to this the high price....

    This means many unknown artists have to find alternatives to the
    distribution channel, and lo and behold we have one.....its called the
    Internet...this is how we intend shortly to get our music out there.


    thing, Aug 18, 2004
  20. Cheetah

    Peter Guest

    It seems to me the current situation provides obscenely large incomes for
    only very few artists, and most musicians get almost nothing. I would much
    rather a situation where a large number of artists earned a decent income.

    Hopefully, technological advances (like the internet and digital recording)
    will enable this to happen. Middlemen who don't add value should get out
    of the picture.

    (BTW I'm a consumer, not an artist.)

    Peter, Aug 18, 2004
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