Patent infringement suit filed against Red Hat (No Lobbyists As Such)
Posted Jul 5, 2006 1:34 UTC (Wed) by wookey
In reply to: Patent infringement suit filed against Red Hat (No Lobbyists As Such)
Parent article: Patent infringement suit filed against Red Hat (No Lobbyists As Such)
Mark Webbink has written a number of articles in the press which are generally sound and against software patents. From what I have written I find him to be definately 'on our side', although writing from the perspective of a big-company representative and thus being quite restrained and middle-of-the-road.
Florian Mueller has been a leading light of the anti-software-patent debate in the EU, doing a sterling job of mobilising the lesser EU countries with his multi-lingual nosoftwarepatents.com site. On the other hand he seems prone to 'loose-cannonism' and has got rather carried away on several occaisions, being very offensive about the Irish, promoting dubious conspiracy theories and definding the (IMHO) wrong bnetd descision. I know that a number of swpat activists decided he was more trouble than he was worth and wanted nothing more to do with him. The FFII did the primary work of analysis, money-raising and lobbying, but IMHO Florian certainly helped. Unfortiunately I haven't yet got to meet him in person.
The decision of whether or not to go for complete rejection on the CII directive was quite finely balanced as I recall, with quite a few people keen not to kill the thing completely, in the hope of getting a 'good directive' which would clearly make swpats illegal. Killing the directive (whilst a huge achievement) does not change the status-quo of the EPO issuing numerous software patents every week. Not-killing was a much higher-risk approach, as we might get a 'bad' directive, and most of us took the safer option.
It was a perfectly reasonable stance to want to keep the directive and still being entirely against software patents. For a non-zealot in Mark's position, accepting the possibility of a compromise position where swpats were permitted but ameliorated by strong 'interoperability' provisions, was also a reasonable fallback position.
I remain skeptical of the effectiveness of the Open Invention Network, but it is possible that in the terrible legal environment of the US, it could be helpful, and it probably makes sense in terms of RedHat trying to protect themselves. Again I don't think we can really claim that it means Red Hat (or Mark Webbink) really do actually want swpats.
So I conclude from all this that what Florian says happened may well be true, but that it is no real indication of bad faith. It seems to me that he is blowing it out of proportion (not for the first time). Both of these people have done a good job in terms of helping keep swpats at bay in the EU. I expect both of them to continue doing so, whilst not necessarily agreeing on tactics or approach.
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