NEW YORK, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) and the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) today announced that they are co- sponsoring a conference to discuss the impact of software patents on software development, innovation and competition. The conference, entitled "Software Patents: A Time for Change?", will be hosted at Boston University on November 17. In addition to PUBPAT and SFLC, the conference is being co-organized by the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, Boston University Law School, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Research on Innovation. Speakers at the conference will include representatives from each of the organizers in addition to eBay, Red Hat, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the World Wide Web Consortium. CURRENT STATE OF PATENT LAW In the past few decades, the specialized patent court of appeals in the United States has removed virtually all limits to patentable subject matter and, as a result, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded hundreds of thousands of software patents. Initially, there was little empirical evidence to gauge what the effect of allowing patents to cover software would be. Since then, many have analyzed the effect of patents on the development of software. The conference being co-sponsored by PUBPAT and SFLC will provide an opportunity to consider this growing body of research and its implications for software patent policy. "Over time, it has become increasingly clear that software patents actually hinder -- rather than promote -- innovation," said Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of PUBPAT. "A reevaluation of the consequences of software patents here in America is long overdue," continued Mr. Ravicher, who will give opening remarks at the conference. "Software patents have a chilling effect on the collaborative development model of free and open source software," said Richard Fontana, SFLC Counsel, who will participate on a roundtable at the conference to consider options for patent reform. "Ironically, the social benefits that patents supposedly provide -- enriching public knowledge through disclosure, discouraging duplicative research, and facilitating new technological solutions -- are intrinsic to FOSS but are endangered by software patents." Mr. Ravicher and Mr. Fontana are both registered patent attorneys. For more information on the conference, which will be open to the public, see http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swconf/home.htm About the Software Freedom Law Center The Software Freedom Law Center -- chaired by Eben Moglen, one of the world's leading experts on copyright law as applied to software -- provides legal representation and other law-related services to protect and advance Free and Open Source Software. The Law Center is dedicated to assisting non- profit open source developers and projects. For criteria on eligibility and to apply for assistance, please contact the Law Center directly or visit the Web at http://www.softwarefreedom.org. About the Public Patent Foundation The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") is a not-for-profit legal services organization working to protect the public from the harms caused by the patent system, particularly the harms caused by undeserved patents and unsound patent policy. PUBPAT provides the general public and those specific persons or businesses otherwise deprived of access to the system governing patents, with representation, advocacy, and education. To be kept informed of PUBPAT News, subscribe to the PUBPAT News List by visiting http://www.pubpat.org.
SOURCE Software Freedom Law Center