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Fake representatives of free software

The free software community is quite unified in it's lobbying against software patents, however, some dishonest companies try to distort this position.

This page documents companies whose main business is not free software, but who claim to represent free software interests, while lobbying for software patents. You can help set the record straight helping to document free software projects harmed by software patents.


In 2009, for the Bilski v. Kappos case, IBM submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the USA claiming that software patents: "fueled the explosive growth of open source software development"

Their brief can be read here:

From the footnote on page 38 of the PDF (the page is numbered 25 in the document):

Given the reality that software source code is human readable, and object code can be reverse engineered, it is difficult for software developers to resort to secrecy. Thus, without patent protection, the incentives to innovate in the field of software are significantly reduced. Patent protection has promoted the free sharing of source code on a patentee’s terms—which has fueled the explosive growth of open source software development.

From the body of text on page 42 of the PDF:

In addition, disclosure of software inventions promotes collaboration among software developers (such as open source development)"

Press coverage

Government opinions

After conducting a study and calling for comments, the UK government concluded in 2001:

The Government does not, however, accept the view – asserted by some respondents – that Open Source software is threatened by the existing extent of patentability. This seems to fly in the face of the facts, notably that during the last decade Open Source software has flourished.[1]

This indicates that either representatives of free software (aka open-source software) didn't represent their case very well, and/or other interests fed misinformation to the UK government.

Related info

The brief by IEEE-USA and Professor Lee Hollaar, although not claiming to represent free software, contained misleading statements saying that free software developers simply didn't have any innovation of their own and they just wanted to close other software.[2]

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