Linux Kernel maintainer 'barred' from patents meeting

TalkBack: Now that the UK PTO's public meeting on software patents has been made public, software patent campaigners are up in arms at the invitation policy
Written by Matt Loney, Contributor
Alan Cox, sometime maintainer of the Linux kernel and well-known open-source advocate, is among those effectively persona non grata at the UK Patent and Trademarks Office (PTO) public meeting on software patents next week.

The meeting on the proposed Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, due to be held on Tuesday 14th December at the Department of Trade and Industry, generated controversy after it emerged that up to a third of people who had written to their MPs on the issue had not been invited to the invitation-only meeting.

The UK PTO had told ZDNet UK that people who had written to their MPs would receive an invite. Among those who still don't have one -- and so find themselves effectively barred from the meeting -- are prominent anti-software patent campaigners such as Alan Cox.

In a Talkback to ZDNet UK's earlier story highlighting the issue, Cox wrote: "I too was mysteriously overlooked despite having written to my MP and received an answer. It seems the patent lobby are desperately keen to continue running their government powered propoganda [sic] without wanting to hear the truth."

Cox, who has previously been invited to speak on software patents at the EU, said the Patent Office apparently fears "every word I have to say about their plans". He went on to add: "Unfortunately with all the underhand game playing both in the EU council of ministers and in UK government and patent circles it isn't the slightest surprise."

Others who said they had written to their MPs but had no invite were similarly scathing: "This is not a debate, it is a presentation of government decided facts and proposals which you can query to get clarification," wrote Steve Bell, who works in IT. "There is no mention or a debate or any argumentative process so why the wonder that those who disagree have been left out.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is asking those who have written to their MPs about software patents but who have not received invitations to the meeting to fill in a form on the organisation's Web site to help grasp the scale of the problem.

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