The Israeli patent registrar have reverted previous ruling regarding patents on software and published a draft for the procedures to accept such patents. The procedures are open to public comments for the next 30 days.
Two years ago the patent registrar have started to consider revising the the issue and got many position papers (e.g. Hamakor’s papter). At the end he decided not to accept patents on software. De facto, at least one such patent (US patent 7,596,609) was accepted to be valid in Israel after that ruling. Now that the rulings is reverted, I guess will see many more software patents granted here. I wonder about the implications on the local software market… hopefully it won’t stagnate due to patent wars such as the ones we see every now and then in the US.
Following a call for submissions from the Israeli Patent Authority, the Israeli Free Software Society, Hamakor, submitted a memorandum calling for the annulment of the Software Patents. A Memorandum drafted by Adv. Jonathan J. Klinger, Hamakor’s chief legal counsel, presented a tough and strict approach claiming that software patents harm innovation and incur high legal costs on software developers.
“protecting software through patents shall provide protection on ideas, which are usually expressible in more than one manner, and shall be the beginning to a race to the bottom where every person shall register as many patents possible and incur high costs on each player in the software field”, said Klinger, and added that “the chilling effect created by the fear of using software protected by patents, be it free software or proprietary software, and incur costs on the system solely in order to purchase insurance from the theoretical patent infringement. In such case, any independent development of software without legal assistance from the first day of development shall be problematic, and deter developers from developing free software or promote innovation”.
Until recently, the Israeli patent authority rejected Software Patents and provided protection only regarding hardware (in re Eli Tamir). However, the recent call for submissions had raised the fear that software patents shall be used to deter innovation.
Currently, Israeli venture capital funds and technology evangelists often see patents as the core asset when protecting software companies from competition, which creates a race to the bottom that requires startups and innovative companies to register patents in order to raise funds. Hamakor presents, in its memorandum, a new approach focusing on people and not patents, as the core asset of the Israeli Innovation.