IN THE TECH PAGES of the Irish Tmes, Karlin Lillington writes an excellent piece on the divisive nature of software patents, capturing the essence the divisive battleline that scores the Irish industry. She hits all the marks in a story that should be essential reading for all CEOs who develop software or who pay more than EUR 5000 annually in software licensing fees because Lillington dissects the harms that could follow on the heels of ramming this directive through the back door of the European Parliament,
Among other things:
- The MEPs and the Council of Ministers were lobbied on one side by large software companies and industry groups such as the Business Software Association. They were also lobbied on the other side by groups representing SMEs, Open SOurce and major industry figures.
- At one point in February 2005, a decision by the European Commission that it would not start again from scratch with the proposal caused a bitter fallout between ministers and parliamentarians.
- Socialists accused the commission of acting in collusion with Microsoft, an accusation partially fueled by the fact that trade commissioner Peter Mandelson spent New Year's Eve 2004 at a party on the yacht of Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft.
- The US Federal Trade Commission has come out decisively against software patents, pointing to the damaging effect of "submarine patents" among other things.
- "Free" software means freedom of use. We could not educate software developers without tinkering with and leveraging free and Open Source software packages.
The patent issue plagues Irish businesses. If software patents are passed into European law, expect higher costs, more litigation and a lower level of proficiency among Ireland's youngest knowledge workers.
Karlin Lillington -- "Divisive software patents issue not dead yet" in The Irish Times Business This Week, November 25, 2005.