Israel: one month to end software patents

I need help contacting groups in Israel. With a February deadline, the Israeli patent office is asking if it should grant software patents. To help, join this mailing list: israel-public-discuss@endsoftwarepatents.org. As usual, the small businesses, individual programmers, and software user groups don’t seem to have noticed this consultation. This is common in public consultations – but you can bet the lawyers groups and the multinationals are aware and working on their submissions. So I need help with informing people in Israel now so they have some time to get prepare submissions. More info below.

Information pages:

I don’t have any contacts in Israel. I’ve searched around for the sort of groups that should be interested but have only found two programmer groups. Some good news: they both use English as their working language, so there’s no need to worry about not knowing the national languages.

I’ve recently examined the submissions to a few public consultations, and I’ve noticed that software developers, small businesses, and software user groups don’t participate much. Three examples are Europe, the USA, and Australia. So there’s a worry that the patent office, even in good faith, is failing to reach the people who will suffer the negative effects of software patents.

The Israeli courts have thrown out software patents, so there’s a real chance to end software patents there. It would be a terrible missed opportunity if software ideas became patentable just because a consultation reached the wrong people.

Lawyers groups and big multinationals are usually aware of these consultations, and they have the resources and procedural know-how to participate. Please help raise awareness of this.

(While I’m ringing alarm bells, I should mention that Australia is going to have a software patent legislative proposal soon. I’ll put out more info on that soon.)

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6 Comments

  • Lior Kaplan says:

    Hi,

    My name is Lior Kaplan, and I’m a member of Hamakor which is an Israeli society for free and open source software (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamakor for more details).

    We’re in the process of writing a draft of a position paper for the patent authority about this (only available in Hebrew).

    I’ll be happy to use as your point of contact regarding this issue, feel free to contact me.

    It will be nice if you could also provide a position paper of your own.

    Kaplan

  • anonymous says:

    You wrote you could only found two programmer groups that should be intrested. Can you name them?

  • Jonathan says:

    Hi,

    I’m Jonathan, the chief counsel for the Israeli Open Source Association. We just submitted our memorandum. Here is the press release:

    Press Release.

    For Immediate Publication.

    [עברית בסוף, האזרו בסבלנות]

    Hamakor, the Israeli Free Software Society, calls for the annulment of Software Patents.

    Following a call for submissions from the Israeli Patent Authority, the Israeli Free Software Society, Hamakor, submitted a memorandum calling for the annulment of the Software Patents. A Memorandum drafted by Adv. Jonathan J. Klinger, Hamakor’s chief legal counsel, presented a tough and strict approach claiming that software patents harm innovation and incur high legal costs on software developers.

    “protecting software through patents shall provide protection on ideas, which are usually expressible in more than one manner, and shall be the beginning to a race to the bottom where every person shall register as many patents possible and incur high costs on each player in the software field”, said Klinger, and added that “the chilling effect created by the fear of using software protected by patents, be it free software or proprietary software, and incur costs on the system solely in order to purchase insurance from the theoretical patent infringement. In such case, any independent development of software without legal assistance from the first day of development shall be problematic, and deter developers from developing free software or promote innovation”.

    Until recently, the Israeli patent authority rejected Software Patents and provided protection only regarding hardware (in re Eli Tamir). However, the recent call for submissions had raised the fear that software patents shall be used to deter innovation.

    Currently, Israeli venture capital funds and technology evangelists often see patents as the core asset when protecting software companies from competition, which creates a race to the bottom that requires startups and innovative companies to register patents in order to raise funds. Hamakor presents, in its memorandum, a new approach focusing on people and not patents, as the core asset of the Israeli Innovation.

    For futher questions, contact Jonathan Klinger: jonklinger@gmail.com, +972-52-3436436