Discard Software Patent Policy that Threatens Korean Software Ecosystem

by | Jun 23, 2014 | Intellectual Property, Press Release | 0 comments

Please read the Korean original here.

Discard Software Patent Policy that Threatens Korean Software Ecosystem 


On June 18, the Intellectual Property Office announced that it will enforce the policy with expansion of software patent protection, starting July 1. Through this policy, the patent examination guideline changes to allow ‘computer program’ as a patentable subject.


However, Intellectual Property Office’s change in examination guideline requires revision of law and will only hinder software development and innovation. Especially, it is extremely dangerous to revise examination guidelines without reflecting the views of software developers. Opennet and Smart Developers’ Association, domestic software developers’ group, formally propose an open debate and demand the Intellectual Property Office to reexamine the guideline revision to include the views of the developers.


Current guideline revision is what the Intellectual Property Office attempted to achieve through amending the patent law in 2011. The attempt was unsuccessful due to dissent and absence of interagency coordination. Then, Intellectual Property Office is changing its internal regulation to expand patent protection to software. The Intellectual Property Office itself had made it clear that including ‘program’ is as a patentable subject is not permitted before amending the patent law. Circumventing the matter of revision of law through revising administrative agency’s internal regulation is a violation of the principle of the legality of the authority. Moreover, the Intellectual Property Office did not put expected amount of effort in gathering opinions from the software developers. The Intellectual Property Office made an announcement that it will be gathering public opinions, but the announcement was only on its website. Not a single press release was issued. (Intellectual Property Office issues press release daily.) This led to only two opinions submitted to the Intellectual Property Office. (And these opinions are very difficult to locate in the website).


The Intellectual Property Office is publicizing this action as a means of promoting domestic software industry, but in fact, it can create great confusion in the software industry. Recent United States Supreme Court decision shows limiting patent protection on software is United States judiciary’s decision on patent policy, and World Intellectual Property Organization’s study shows excluding computer programs from patent protection is the international standard.


Those who advocate open source/free software also expressed their opposition toward Intellectual Property Office’s recent action. Richard Stallman, the founder of FSF, expressed his opinion.


” Computational idea patents put every program’s developer in danger of being sued for the code he has written. Sometimes the program’s users can be sued too.

The US shows where this leads. When Korean software developers export there, they enter a patent war that gets nastier every year. The Korean developers are attacked with US patents. The Korean developers also get US patents and attack Americans. No matter who “wins”, the whole software field loses.

If South Korea permits patent attacks against software, most of the patents will belong to foreign companies, but the victims will usually be Korean. Why import US-style patent warfare? It is wiser to keep Korean developers and users safe, at least at home, by keeping computational idea patents out of South Korea. ”


Opennet ∙ Smart Developers’ Association suggests the Intellectual Property Office an open debate about patent examination guidelines revision!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *