Russel Winder's Website

White House Con Job? Opportunity for EU?

It seems the White House is on a "charm offensive" trying to convince the electorate that they are listening and wanting to follow the direction that the electorate would like them to. See the following: Groklaw, TechDirt, The White House. The key questions seem to be:

  • What are the obstacles to innovation that you see in your community?
  • And what steps can be taken to remove them?

It is unsurprising that the majority of the answers from individuals and small organizations is and will be "the patent system". Very, very few individuals and small organizations have the resources to enter the patents game. Moreover the act of publishing gifts the ideas to the large organizations who have the resource to play the patents game, and worse wilfully ignore patents owned by individuals and small organization in the knowledge that individuals and small organizations do not have the resources to seek relief against contravention of a patent.

The really interesting question is: why is the White House bothering with this sort of programme. It takes up resources, gets people worked up, and is fundamentally a waste of time, since it is clearly obvious that the vested interests, i.e. the large organizations, will not allow change to happen as any change will upset their cosy monopolistic patents game.

Or perhaps there will be a popular uprising, Egypt style, in the USA, throwing aside old, anti-innovation practices leading to a resurgence in the USA innovation rate? Unlikely. The conditions are not right, and the large organizations too well ensconced and with too many tentacles in too many decision-making places.

The real question here then is: will the EU see what is happening, see that all the US pressure to have a US style patent system in Europe and elsewhere is only in the interest of large organizations and kills innovation. If people within the USA are worried about the patents system, and especially the software patents issue, why should the EU and others rush headlong towards that system. Innovation is all that the EU, and indeed the USA, has in a world dominated by production in Asia. Any system that stifles innovation is not in the interest of the EU or USA.

Can this worry about innovation in the USA and EU be used as a way of stopping the march of US pressure for software patents to be enforceable world-wide? Can this be used as a way of removing all the software patent aspects of ACTA? I certainly hope so. Sadly I fear the large organizations will cajole and bully governments into doing what is good for the large organizations. Innovation in EU and USA will be squashed unless it happens within the large organizations. If this transpires then it will likely gift economic power lock, stock and barrel to the Asian economies. Won't it be amusing for the EU and USA governments when the world economies are such that China and India outsource software development to the UK because it is cheaper than using their own people?

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