Letter to the EE-Times, published 8th March 2002:
In virtual reality, patents are hampering tech development.
Regarding *U.S. patent debate on IP rights vs. competition* (Feb. 11, page 6) and current FTC hearring on this issue, I would like to add the following: I am a virtual reality photographer working in Sweden and Poland, determined to provide affordable but high quality images to my customers of interiors and environments of hotels, restaurants, tourism facilities, arenas cultural heritage spaces and others. At the beginning, I had problems finding suitable software. This situation was the result of extensive patent activity by one large company that attempted to obtain full coverage of these new Internet technologies. Due to aggresive lawsuit activities, the company’s competitiors disappeared. Even worse, the company did not work enough on technology development. The company’s chief goal was to make technology easy for the mass-market user, but instead the situation resembled the introduction of photography in the 18th century: Only the most skilled individuals can afford it because it is impossible to totaly patent this still-immature technology. (*Here I originally meant rather that an open technology development is in this case faster and more effective than its progress in a single company*). A lot of individual, artistic and technical skills are still required. It is amazing that the free-software developers- some of them from Europe, where these patent applications have been rejected-now provide better and much more modern software tools. One author was threatened by the company with lawsuits if he did not stop distributing his software. But if he stopped, no technical progress would take place. This restriction hampering small Web developers from patenting technology could lead to missing the Internet video opportunity. (*Here I originally wrote something different: that tracking other VR-panorama software developpers the company missed 360-streaming video opportunity in favour of Behere*) I respect the intelectual property of others but an open-market approach would better stimulate (this market).
Jacek Gancarson, Web developer, VR-photographer
1998-2002 we activelly worked in favour of improvement of European patent law, taking into account objectives of the development of global network technologies.
We joined an online demonstration against proposed EU software patent directive.
The directive, in it’s first shape, would allow an extensive patenting of classic business methods on the Internet. It will hamper development of our innovative technology.
Above kind of patents infringe retroactively our own technical solutions and business methods and we will need the financial compensation from EU in case we will be forced to pay licences for use of our methods online.
We have never got a single feedback from EU and that is why we are taking hereby this action in protest.
The directive was voted in European Parliament 24th September 2003. As the original objective of the directive seemed to be harmonisation with current US practice, the new amendmends added by the parliament also take into account development of European software and economy as such. In particular the market competition will be encouraged by withdrawal of legal protection of business methods.
Some amendments invoked critics from European Commission so further adjustments of the directive are expected.
Look at Greens/ALE Party’s Conference on Software Directive,
We strongly protest against patenting of common access network, which should be the object of standardisation and not patenting!
For further information about online demonstration please see http://swpat.ffii.org