Sunday, July 27, 2008

Patent Office Meeting in Mumbai on 7th August: Please attend if you can

This is a call for FOSS developers in Mumbai who are interested in the software patents issue. The Patent office has called for a stakeholders meeting on the Draft Patent Manual.

On behalf of Red Hat, I have submitted our comments on the manual.

In 2005, I was involved in the Patent Amendment Act 2005 and on behalf of Red Hat, we had made representations to policy makers on why software patents are bad for the Indian software industry. At that time, Lawrence Liang and Prashanth Iyengar of the Alternative Law Forum had done a fantastic job of putting together a position paper on this issue virtually overnight. Happily, our lobbying was successful and software was kept out of the Amendment. What makes me hopping mad is that the Draft Manual seeks to bring in through the backdoor, something that was explicitly rejected by the Indian parliament. To say the very least, this is a very dubious practice.

Interestingly, Infosys and TCS are in favor of software patents. Those who followed the OOXML fight on this blog would know that both these organizations had voted in favor of Microsoft's OOXML proposal. If there are articulate FOSS developers in the Mumbai LUG, I would request them to be present at the 7th August 2008 meeting and explain to the group why software patents are against the interest of the developer community.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

At mumbai :

Patent Office
Boudhik Sampada Bhawan,
S.M.Road, Near Antop Hill Post Office,
Antop Hill, MumbaiI - 400 037.
Phone : 24137701, 24141026, 24150381, 24148165, 24171457
FAX : 24130387
EMAIL: mumbai-patent@nic.in

Do we need to do some prior registration or anyone can attend it ?

Anonymous said...

Google map link

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Antop+Hill+post+office+mumbai&ie=UTF8&ll=19.032262,72.864761&spn=0.01996,0.033903&z=14

Venky said...

Anyone can attend. I attended the one in delhi and may attend the one in Mumbai.

Anonymous said...

So what to do going there ? Do I have a say or just watch the show ? Can I submit a letter or something. Can you be more specific on how can a person help in a more constructive way. Just going there is not going to help.

Anonymous said...

4.11 section deals with software. I read the draft - it makes no sense to a developer. Its some legal geek speak. Please explain how to oppose it in a proper way.

Venky said...

This document from the Alternative Law Forum explains why software patents are harmful for the Indian industry.

http://www.sarai.net/research/knowledge-culture/critical-public-legal-resources/whysoftwarepatentsareharmful.pdf

Anonymous said...

We want to know how to approach this at the stakeholders meeting. We are zero on such political matters. Mumbai ILUG is willing to come, but what are we suppose to do there ? Do we behave like politicians in lok sabha - shouting, morcha, etc ?

Can you guide us what all things can we actually do that can have a impact at the meeting ?

We want to go prepared.

Venky said...

If you are a FOSS developer who has had to deal with software patents, it makes sense to attend. Else, skip it, unless you want to just attend and see for yourselves how polciy issues are discussed.

The discussions are fairly civil. The Delhi meeting was moderated by the good folks from the Ministry of Commerce and when the software patents issue became heated, they took it offline and said that a separate one will be organized around this issue.

To have an impact in these meetings, familiarity with the subject is essential. There is no substitute for this.

This paper is the best way of familiarising yourselves with the subject.

http://www.sarai.net/research/knowledge-culture/critical-public-legal-resources/whysoftwarepatentsareharmful.pdf

Anonymous said...

Whom to email the opposition - for those who were not able to be present at the meeting ?

Anonymous said...

1. Microsoft was present at the meeting though they didnt say much. Maybe they already did their job ($$$) behind the curtains. They seem very confident that s/w patents are going to be accepted.
2. Infosys was present and was in favor of s/w patents.
3. CII same as infosys
4. Symentec was also present and was in favor of s/w patents.
3. Redhat got shot down, their argument of inflation was buffed off.

There will be more meetings specifically for this issue. They want concrete and strong arguments. Be really well prepared for it.

Looks like they are going to pass it, unless there is a real strong opposition to it (morcha??).

Send your opposition via email. They will consider it. They are hell bent on finalizing the draft very soon...so there is not much time left.

Speculation...they have got a lot of $$ directly or indirectly (a.k.a. OOXML) from MS/Infosys to pass the s/w patents.