[Discussioni] [Fwd: [Patents] NSWP: Open Letter to Danish Navision Employees]

Stefano Maffulli stef a zoomata.com
Mer 16 Feb 2005 10:57:35 CET

La lettera di Florian Mueller agli impiegati di Navision.

a presto

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Subject: [Patents] NSWP: Open Letter to Danish Navision Employees
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 13:50:36 -0500

> http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=367

15 February 2005

Dear Danish Employees of Navision:

This morning, all of us were shocked by reports in BÝrsen, The
Copenhagen Post and other media on Bill Gates' threat to kill
your jobs unless the EU were to legalize software patents. I
commented on that incident, and mentioned similar threats by
other large corporations, at this address:


Some believe that Microsoft's legal counsel, who is quoted in the
articles, purposely provided that information to the press at
this point in hopes of firming up the support of the Danish
government, and particularly the Social Democrats, for software
patents. It may additionally be an act of desperation given the
following recent developments in various parliaments:



I am very sorry for you that you would be treated like that. You
deserve better than this.

One of the articles "blamed" the delays in the legalization of
software patents in Europe on anti-software-patent campaigners
like myself. So I feel compelled to explain why we are absolutely
on your side, at the end of the day.


First of all, there is no business logic in what Bill Gates and
Marianne Wier are reported to have said. The profitability of
Navision is in no factual way related to the patentability or
non-patentability of software in Europe. It's very questionable
whether Navision would on the bottom line benefit from software
patents in any market. I can see how Microsoft clutches at
software patents as a weapon of mass destruction in order to
defend its monopolies in operating systems and office
productivity software, but I don't think Navision faces the same
issues with open-source competition.

Even if one assumed for a moment that Navision needs software
patents, then the ability of your company to take out patents
has, absolutely positively, nothing to do with where your jobs
are based. The patent system doesn't discriminate on the basis of
where a technology is developed. The only person who has to be a
resident of the territory in which the patent is registered is
the patent attorney who files the application.

If the EU allows software patents, then American companies will
obtain most of them (75% of today's European software patents
are, in fact, held by U.S. corporations). If the EU doesn't
legalize them, then an American developer will not receive
patents in the EU only because the USA has them, but a European
developer can still take out patents in the USA. So whether you
are based in Denmark, the USA or in the Antarctica, you won't get
a higher or smaller number of patents in total. Patents regulate
a market into which one sells, not a place of production.

So what Bill Gates has done is, quite simply, that he has used
your very jobs as a bargaining chip for a threat in order to
coerce a certain behavior of your politicians on a factually
unrelated issue. Since relocating your jobs doesn't improve
anything in terms of patentability for him, the threat is
probably vain. I presume that Microsoft paid too much for your
expertise to drop you like a bad habit. However, if I'm wrong and
Microsoft just bought you to eliminate a competitor, then your
jobs aren't safe anyway. Then the days of Navision are already
numbered, with or without software patents.

Someone who blackmails others on the basis of people's livelihood
reveals his true nature. I guess we all have the same opinion on
what it means to instill fear in people with a threat like that.
You may have known from the beginning who you're working for, and
now you do with greater certainty. None of us would want the
largest part of our industry, and consequently the technological
basis of our economy and information society, to be dependent
upon people with that attitude.


If it is true that your minister of technology Helge Sanders
indicated that Microsoft's investments in Denmark give them the
right to make certain demands and "to be honored", then that's
even more surprising, and gives cause for even greater concern,
than Microsoft's conduct. I hope that he was misquoted because
otherwise he would favor a blackmailable state over democracy. If
he truly said that, then he has managed to exceed the absurdity
of the reasoning for software patents that minister of economic
affairs Bendt Bendtsen previously used. I remember him saying in
the summer that the EU Council's proposal should be supported
because it legalizes the practice of the European Patent Office,
thereby implying that democratically elected lawmakers should
simply codify whatever some civil servants consider beneficial to
themselves and the system they control.

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