Software patents harm SMEs
The main problems are:
- SMEs can't afford to do patent searches to avoid patent risk.
- SMEs can't afford to defend themselves against patent litigation, even if they're sure the patent is invalid. They can't even get insurance against the risk of unintentional patent infringement (insurance companies know when a risk is too big to take on).
- SMEs are blocked from entering certain markets
There are other problems. Sometimes these other problems are very real, but sometimes they're used by pro-software-patent campaigns in strange ways to distract politicians away from the main problems. Focussing on these should be don with caution:
- SMEs can't afford to get patents. (See: Cost of getting patents and maintaining them)
- The cost of enforcing their own patents might exceed the size of revenue they would be trying to protect.
- The patent grant process is too slow. SMEs have to get to profitability quickly to survive.
How important are SMEs?
- According to European Business Summit, they provide 99% of European jobs! (This sounds too high - other sources say 75%)
- Rethinking the European ICT agenda "...most small enterprises are strongly opposed."
- Innovation in Germany, Windows of opportunity "...SMEs are crucial providers of pathbreaking innovations, but would be most adversely affected by patentability...."
- 2008 Berkeley Patent Survey
- Small Serial Innovators: The Small Firm Contribution To Technical Change
(See other studies on economics and innovation)
Related pages on ESP Wiki
- Some SMEs like software patents myth - when pro-swpat corporations pretend to speak for SMEs
- passive threats - a common way that SMEs are "targeted"
- Who owns software patents? - it's not the SMEs
- Inequality between small and large patent holders
- Costs of patenting
- Why companies apply for software patents
- Solidarity among campaigns against software patents
- How Patents Are Harming Small Companies Too, 1 June 2009, Techdirt
- Interview mentioning that 3% of patent applicants own 50% of the patents granted by the EPO, SUEPO, good quotes
- Economic Majority testemonials, mostly from SMEs, FFII's Economic Majority, regarding the EU software patents directive
- Patent Trolls Prey on SMEs, by Rita S. Heimes
- Bombshell Study: Heavily Litigated NPE Patents Overwhelmingly Lose at Trial, 22 Sep 2010, 271 Patent Blog - of course, individuals and SMEs can't afford to go to court
- French original: Small publishers worry about being choked by patents (English translations[?]: Google, bing translator)
- "SMEs Engines for Recovery?". http://eureporter.co.uk/story/smes-engines-recovery. "providing an appropriate balance for a discussion of a sector that provides 99% of all of Europe’s jobs."