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In 2012, a number of judges called attention to the problem of software patents and we saw consistently critical press coverage. Right now, we have so many ripe opportunities to expand our campaign, but not enough resources to pursue them all.

Some specific pieces of good news were comments from influential US Judge, Richard Posner, the US Supreme Court’s “Mayo” ruling, the decision by the US CAFC to review one of its own rulings which upheld a software patent, and a comment by the European Union’s highest court about software functionality monopolies.

This might be the build-up to a big ruling like what we hoped Bilski would bring, and changing software patent policy in the US would be a big help to campaigns worldwide.

But what’s also striking is that no one submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in these cases arguing for an interpretation that would confirm software patents as invalid and informing the court about the harm caused to the public’s freedom, as well as the mountain of studies showing that software patents are a net loss for innovation and the economy in the USA. That would have been particularly useful in the CLS Bank case. We’ll never get what we want if we don’t ask.

With just volunteer effort we’ve done some good work in the End Software Patents campaign in 2012. Ben Sturmfels of ESP Australia continues to work effectively on the legislative process which could exclude software from patentability in Australia. We’ve raised awareness of a consultation about software patents by the Brazilian patent office, and helped people get involved. The http://en.swpat.org wiki now has more than 600 articles so that all campaigns against software patents can benefit from the information we’ve gathered during years of campaigning. We’ve also published articles, given presentations, and assisted other campaigns.

But we could do more. There are opportunities to be grabbed. We could get back to participating in court cases, and the campaign could be restructured to get more people involved.

If you want to make a donation to help End Software Patents, FSF’s web site has a special page for donations to the campaign:

We campaign to get rid of software patents altogether. Your donations won’t be used on slow, costly processes to invalidate a tiny number of “stupid patents.” We want video formats to be free, we want software to be compatible, we want companies to compete by developing software not by buying patents, and we want everyone, including individuals and small businesses, to be allowed to write and distribute software, without having to follow rules imposed by patent holders.

Our goal, with your help: End Software Patents.

CiarĂ¡n O’Riordan
Executive Director,
End Software Patents