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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an electronic civil liberties organisation in the USA.

EFF does not campaign to abolish software patents. Their patent work focusses on minor procedural reforms,[1] on invalidating one specific software patents every year or so, and on informing the public of the existence of very silly patents.


Minor procedural reforms


Invalidating a patent every year or two

The Patent Busting project, launched in 2004,[2] has lead to (as of April 2015) two patents being busted and three being greatly narrowed. (The Patent Busting webpage currently only lists two being narrowed, but there's also the podcasting patent they got narrowed in 2015) Three others are awaiting re-exam and two have expired with time.

Why is EFF not against software patents?

It's hard to see why the EFF ignores abolition. One could imagine that the EFF sees abolition as being too optimistic, so they aim for minor goals. But, after more than a decade of no success in with those minor goals, why then continue to ignore the abolition option, when even the US Supreme Court raises the idea of abolishing software patents?

Regarding Alice v. CLS Bank, 2013

Even when the US Supreme Court announced in December 2013 that it would make a decision on whether software is patentable or not (by taking the CLS Bank v. Alice), EFF showed no interest in getting software patents ruled ineligible and instead commented that:

the root of that problem, which has largely been missing from the public debate, is patent quality, specifically of software-related inventions. There can be no doubt: we have a problem with low-quality, abstract software patents in this country. We are incredibly glad to see the Supreme Court take on this important question and we look forward to weighing in.[3]

But the court wasn't taking on any questions of quality. The question posed to the court is: "Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions (...) are directed to patent-eligible subject matter within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 101".

Defend Innovation, 2012

The announcement of their "Defend Innovation" project almost said software patents should be abolished:

Want to Abolish Software Patents? Tell Us.
(...) Many engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs have suggested that reform is not enough and that software should not be patentable, period. We want to record these views (...)[4]

But they never advocate abolition or say that the EFF is for abolition, and the campaign consists of a petition which you have to sign if you want to add your comment, and the petition acknowledges that software patents should continue to exist in some form:

A patent covering software should be shorter: no more than five years
(...)Patent applicants should be required to provide an example of running software code

Amicus briefs


The EFF filed amicus briefs for both the 2008 in re Bilski case:

and the 2009 Bilski v. Kappos case in the Supreme Court:

Alice v. CLS Bank

See also: Alice v. CLS Bank amicus briefs

Patents challenged by the EFF

External links