- What is End Software Patents?
- What is End Software Patents Wiki?
- What is a patent?
- What is a software patent?
- Who do software patents harm?
- Who benefits from software patents?
- What are some examples of software patents?
- Why are software patents a problem? Why not abolish all patents?
- What has ESP done so far?
- What is the goal of the ESP campaign?
- How can I help?
- How do I keep contact with you?
1. What is End Software Patents?
End Software Patents (ESP) was founded in 2009 as a global campaign of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) that aims to abolish all software patents. We believe that software patents block competing software whilst curtailing the freedom of developers. It is claimed that patents promote the free market, but various economic studies have proven that software patents have contributed nothing but unnecessary expenses and tyrannical monopolies on common developer practices. In an increasingly digitized world, an unfair software patent can affect millions of people. You can read our introductory article to acquire a better understanding. If you believe our cause is just, please consider donating or contributing otherwise.
2. What is End Software Patents Wiki?
End Software Patents Wiki (ESP Wiki) is a wiki provided by ESP that hosts all the information needed to campaign against software patents. It is a vast database that anyone can edit without permission and contains detailed arguments, campaign material, numerous resources, and extensive legal information. You can access ESP Wiki here.
3. What is a patent?
A patent is a legal tool that gives its owner the right to prevent others from using an invention in any way for a limited period of years. The TRIPS Agreement provides that the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years. What constitutes patentable subject matter varies from country to country. Patents should never be confused with copyright, which is a different field of law.
4. What is a software patent?
A software patent is a patent that applies to software. The question of whether software can or should be patented has been a matter of debate since the 1960s. The problem is that, due to particularly aggressive lobbying, patent offices apply very loose criteria when judging applications, allowing an unjustifiably large number of software patents. Recognizing that interpretation in patent law is extremely difficult, we contend that there is no other solution: we propose an explicit legislative ban on software patents.
5. Who do software patents harm?
Software patents primarily harm developers, who are in constant danger of violating a software patent every time they write new code. So, in order to avoid litigation, programmers are often forced to use techniques that are inappropriate for their work, thus degrading the quality of their program. This also blocks the global development of standards that are used by millions, even billions of devices. Considering the vast amount of people using software every day of their life, users are directly affected by this issue.
6. Who benefits from software patents?
In practice, the only people who benefit from software patents are patent trolls and patent lawyers. Although the majority of software patents are registered by Big Tech, even these companies constantly infringe other people’s patents and get into legal disputes. Contrary to what patent advocates say, developers have long argued that software development hasn’t seen any significant acceleration since the enforcement of software patents.
7. What are some examples of software patents?
We recommend checking the relevant article on ESP Wiki.
8. Why are software patents a problem? Why not abolish all patents?
It is generally accepted that software is a special case in patent law, due to its algorithmic nature and its cheap production costs. Besides, the FSF is an organization whose main field of interest concerns user freedom. Since patents are a very wide and complicated subject, the FSF cannot make statements beyond the purpose for which it was founded. Should allies with wider views arise, the FSF will welcome them to the extent they support the goal of user freedom.
9. What has ESP done so far?
Since 2009, we have published numerous articles on software patents, submitted amicus briefs* to courts, published the Patent Absurdity documentary and variously affected policies around the world against software patents. Since its launch, the ESP Wiki numbers more than 650 articles on software patents.
10. What is the goal of the ESP campaign?
Despite achieving positive court rulings and policy changes, the goal of this campaign will not be accomplished until all software patents are eliminated around the globe.
11. How can I help?
There are many ways you can help!
12. How do I keep contact with you?
You can stay in touch with us in the following ways:
- Subscribe to our [esp] discussion list
- Sign up for announcements relating to the End Software Patents campaign
- Send us an email at
- Join our IRC channel at #endsoftwarepatents on Libera.Chat
* An amicus brief or amicus curiae is a legal document provided by a third party that assists a court by offering information or expertise on particular issues of the case.