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Last update: $Date: 2002/09/19 23:47:41 $ UTC
Copyright (C) 2002, Russell McOrmond <http://www.flora.ca/>
Permission is granted to republish or include this document in your own materials, in whole or in part, as long as some form of acknowledgment is made. If the new work is a derivative work, please ensure that it is marked as such so that it will not be confused with my own writing.
Note: I considered using the Free Documentation License, but in this case I wanted people to use any ideas presented here in their own submissions. The importance is to ensure that specific ideas are presented, and not specifically that these materials retain all their freedoms.
I believe that being open is critical for future innovation. Open Source software, and even more-so Free Software, questions some of the assumptions policy makers have made about the types of incentives required for innovation.
Governments must become more aware of Open Source software, methods and business models in two ways.
First, Governments should become users and contributors to the pool of Open Source software. Canada should adopt some of the suggestions made by the European Union IDA (Interchanged of Data between Administrations) suggestions around Pooling Open Source Software.
Second, and most critical, Governments need to take Open Source software, methods and business models into consideration with any analysis of public policy. Many people from the Open Source community provided feedback to the 2001 Copyright reform process, and the ideas offered in this input should be applied to more than just Copyright policy.
Some aspects of the current legislative agenda is a threat to Open Source software, methods, and businesses. This is especially true in jurisdictions like the USA that is adopting laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and offering protection to software and business model patents. This agenda is being pushed forward by old-economy businesses wishing to protect their existing business models. Governments must become aware of the threats to innovation that these old ways of doing business represent.
Is has been widely demonstrated by many large companies that there is a willingness to illegally withhold critical business information from shareholders. It should not be surprising that the various risks from closed source and/or proprietary software, secretive (cloak-and-dagger trade secret heavy) design methods, and unaccountable and/or non-transparent business models, are also not being adequately disclosed by these industries.
I am a self-employed, small-businessman who offers consulting and software services, focused on electronic communications, to both public and private sector clients. My clients are primarily in the non-profit, NGO and voluntary sectors. While employed by other companies previously, I opened my own business in the summer of 1995. I did business under my own name of "Russell McOrmond" until January of 2000 when I registered for the Ontario business name of "FLORA Community Consulting". In December of 2000 I registered the Canadian FLORA.ca Internet domain name.
I am also very active in the volunteer sector, most often bringing my skills in electronic publishing to community groups. I was involved early with the National Capital Freenet (was previously AA302), and in 1995 created FLORA.org Community Web which is an important part of the Community Networking movement within Canada.
I have recently turned much of my volunteer attention to helping governments understand the considerable benefits of Open Source and Free Software. In recent months this has included:
As an introduction to this topic, I am offering some quick commentary on the Innovation Strategy survey at http://www.icnet.ic.gc.ca/base/is/survey.htm
The first challenge will be to have government question some of the assumptions included in this introduction. Implied was that that venture capital, intellectual property, and other top-heavy industrial-era ways of thinking of a market will apply to a future knowledge economy.
Survey question : Creating New Knowledge and Bringing It to Market More Quickly
Canadian firms are adopting innovations, new technologies and business practices that embody the latest thinking from around the world. These firms see innovation as the way to grow profit margins and increase productivity. Research gives companies - and countries - huge advantages because it allows them to be the first to develop new products and to get into new markets. However, comparisons with other countries suggest a greater part of Canada's private sector needs to develop its capacity to create new ideas and bring them to market to remain competitive. Research alone is not enough. We need not only to develop the knowledge, but also to bring it to market quickly. Canadian companies are not getting the payoff from research and development (R&D) that they should. After all, our goal is not to become a hotbed of ideas that others then take and develop; it is to become a rich source of products and services that the world wants to buy. That means making more private venture capital available so that our best ideas get developed right here, by Canadian companies.
What do you see as the top three challenges facing Canada in terms of creating knowledge and bringing it to market more quickly?
We too often focus on the most risky aspects of innovation, and how to fund this development. The tools used to create incentives for funding, such as copyright and patents, have been expanded to the point where these policies have created risk themselves.
As a software developer, the recent addition of the eligibility of software patents in various countries has created a very dangerous legal minefield. Ideas which do not pass the most basic tests of usefulness, novelty and unobviousness become patents and the small business does not have the legal or financial ability to fight these patents which should never have been given government protection.
We need to ensure that as we create incentives to develop the most risky innovations that we do not create a legal climate which discourages less risky and more incremental advancement.
There are considerable advantages to governments offering a preference for less risky, incremental innovation:
We need to start to focus on small businesses which is where the real innovation will come from, and not the large companies which tend to move slowly and are very tied to old ways of thinking.
Survey question : Developing Skills for the New EconomyWhile the road system was the basic infrastructure for the Industrial era, education and building the information commons will be the foundations of economies in the future. More resources should be put into public education which encourages people to pursue lifelong learning, and not merely short-term "job training".
To succeed in the global, knowledge-based economy, a country must be capable of producing, attracting and retaining a critical mass of well-educated and appropriately trained people. Canada has one of the most highly educated labour forces in the world. Over the years, our supply of highly qualified people has been sufficient to sustain economic growth and has been instrumental in attracting foreign investment. However, the demand for high-level skills will continue to increase and international competition for highly skilled workers will intensify. Canada can address its skills challenge by substantially increasing the number of highly qualified people from three sources: new graduates from Canadian universities and colleges; highly qualified immigrants coming to Canada as permanent residents or temporary foreign workers; and people already in the labour force who retrain or upgrade their skills to compete in the knowledge economy.
What do you see as the top three challenges facing Canada in terms of developing skills for the new economy?
I have done many presentations to government over the years to suggest that in software that things like operating systems, software development tools, and productivity tools (IE: Office suites) should be considered part of the basic infrastructure and licensed under a public license.
Survey question : Setting the Right Business and Regulatory EnvironmentWe must first reevaluate current public policy, especially in areas where there are conflicts. Included later in this document is an analysis of the Competition Bureau's Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines (IPEG). It is my belief that Competition policy and fair procurement policy must supersede Intellectual Property policy.
Canada's innovation environment is made up of legislation, regulations, codes and standards that protect the public interest and encourage and reward innovation. Getting the business and regulatory environment right is essential if Canada wants to become more innovative in all sectors and all regions of the country. This means having a competitive tax system, the right incentives for large and small businesses, and strong economic policies to encourage Canadian entrepreneurs, while protecting the interests of Canadians. Although many aspects of Canada's innovation environment are among the world's best, we cannot afford to rest on our accomplishments to date. Government has a strong role in making excellence the Canadian "brand" worldwide, ensuring that we are known worldwide as a nation of innovation and opportunity.
What do you see as the top three challenges facing Canada in terms of setting the right business and regulatory environment?
Far from creating certainty which is often given as the general purpose of laws, many laws intended to create incentives for Innovation such as copyright and patents are full of uncertainty. One can read through the entire of the Canadian Patent act and still have no clear idea of what a patent is, or whether someone will be able to (ab)use patent law to revoke their ability to make use of ideas they independently developed.
Governments should invest in the knowledge commons, rather than having publicly researched and paid for knowledge to be given away to private interests. As a start, the Canadian government should be trying to take a lead on the use of, and contribution to, Open Source software. Currently Canada is invisible in the long list of countries moving toward the use of and the contributions toward Open Source and Free Software.
We currently have immigration policy which has favored these workers becoming employees of old-style businesses, rather than independent entrepreneurs.
Our educational institutions have gradually shifted from long-term-thinking "public education" to short-term-thinking "job training". This trend must be reversed.
Survey question : Strengthening Communities Across CanadaBarriers to doing business and facilitating the ability to ignore geo-political borders must be considered. In a Knowledge economy one really has two types of co-workers: those who work in the same city, and those who do not. If my office is in Ottawa, working with someone in Delhi, India should be no different than working with someone in Toronto, Ontario.
A paradox of the global, knowledge-based economy is that sources of competitive advantage tend to be localized. Communities and regions across Canada use their knowledge resources to create economic value, and only there do the elements of the national innovation system come together. In the past, Canada's economy was primarily dependent on natural resources and manufacturing, giving an advantage to communities close to natural resources or to major markets. In the global knowledge-based economy, key assets are less geographically dependent. Knowledge and expertise can be developed and exploited anywhere. Our communities should become magnets for investment and growth by creating a critical mass of entrepreneurship and innovative capabilities. Innovation thrives in industrial clusters - internationally competitive growth centres. A common feature of clusters is the presence of institutions devoted to R&D - universities, technical institutes, research hospitals, government laboratories or private sector facilities. Successful clusters have a strong and vibrant entrepreneurial base of networked and interdependent firms, which ultimately accelerates the pace of innovation, attracts investment, stimulates job creation and generates wealth. Canada's rural and remote communities are key to Canada's innovation success. While Canada is one of the most connected countries in the world, providing broadband access to our communities will be important to our economic growth.
What do you see as the top three challenges facing Canada in terms of strengthening communities across Canada?
Legal uncertainties between countries is an often mentioned barrier to doing business. Canada should work with other countries to break down protectionist barriers, such as the excessive expansion of Intellectual Property rights that has been driven by the United States within WIPO.
Removal of barriers should not be attempted by creating a "lowest common denominator" environment by adopting inappropriate laws in Canada as has been done in the USA. Domestic laws should first create certainty within their own country, and then expand to other countries.
Examples of inappropriate laws are the existing "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" (DMCA) or the proposed "Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act" (CBDTPA). The constitutionality of these two acts are being questioned within the United States. Even the expansion of the term of copyright by the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act", which extended by 20 years both existing copyrights and future copyrights in the USA, is being taken to U.S. courts under Eldred v. Ashcroft.
When current governments offer incentives and financial help to industry, it is done in a very "trickle down" fashion. Knowledge is developed at taxpayer expense which is then offered to private industry to commercialize. It is assumed that the secondary effects of this commercialization, from job creation to investment in that industry, will outweigh the losses from this public knowledge becoming privatized.
I believe that governments are looking at this question incorrectly. I believe that we should change this to a "trickle up" environment. Publicly developed knowledge should stay public, and be offered to all businesses equally to commercialize. Commercialization does not require that the knowledge itself become proprietary, and there are considerable benefits to more distributed models of innovation if the knowledge is kept non-proprietary.
In essence, rather than offering incentives only to the larger companies and relying on a "trickle down" effect for others to receive benefits, government should redirect these resources to helping develop a knowledge commons that would benefit all innovators equally. These benefits would still reach the larger companies whose businesses would properly rely on their ability to innovate, and not exclusive private-public "partnerships".
When investigating Free Software, policy analysts will discover that one of the side effects of this movement is to move the software industry from being considered "Software Manufacturing" (the selling of software "products") to being entirely a services based industry. Businesses make money by adding value to existing public software, or using the public software to add value to some other product or service. They do not make their money by creating monopolies and excluding others from having the ability to competitively offer solutions.
The focus of government support for software has been based on an assumption that software was manufactured, similar to other products. To counter this assumption, I wish to quote the first paragraphs from The Cathedral & the Bazaar, Chapter 5 The Magic Cauldron.
The Manufacturing Delusion
We need to begin by noticing that computer programs like all other kinds of tools or capital goods, have two distinct kinds of economic value. They have use value and sale value.
The use value of a program is its economic value as a tool. a productivity multiplier. The sale value of a program is its value as a salable commodity. (In professional economist-speak, sale value is value as a final good, and use value is value as an intermediate good.)
When most people try to reason about software-production economics, they tend to assume a "factory model" which is founded on the following fundamental premises:
Most developer time is paid for by sale value.
The sale value of software is proportional to its development cost (i.e., the cost of the resources required to functionally replicate it) and to its use value.
In other words, people have a strong tendency to assume that software has the value characteristics of a typical manufactured good. But both of these assumptions are demonstrably false.
First, code written for sale is only the tip of the programming iceberg. In the pre-microcomputer era it used to be a commonplace that 90% of all the code in the world was written in-house at banks and insurance companies. This is probably no longer the case--other industries are much more software-intensive now, and the finance industry's share of the total must have accordingly dropped--but we'll see shortly that there is empirical evidence that approximately 95% of code is still written in-house.
It can easily be demonstrated that not only does the 95% of the software industry benefit from the remaining 5% being Open Source software, but that the secondary effects to other non-softare businesses of having the 5% be Open Source is considerable.
Given the benefits, it should be obvious that the Canadian Government should favor Open Source for software procurement and investment. Once the benefits are understood for software, the same thinking can be applied to non-software knowledge which is currently pushed into a manufacturing mold that often does not fit.
If one Country (IE: Canada) offers public knowledge while another country (IE: United States) does not, this would put the USA at a unfair competitive advantage as they would have access to all of Canada's public knowledge without having to offer anything in return.
Solving this problem sparked the creation of a number of public licenses to restore fair competition. The most well known public license is the GNU General Public License (See: http://www.fsf.org/copyleft/gpl.html).
The GNU GPL is a copyright license that adds responsibilities to the users of software under the GPL to contribute any derivatives of the GPL work back to the public.
To quote from the license:
When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.
To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights. These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it.
For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their rights.
Those who wish to have their derivative works be proprietary will need to start from scratch without the help of this publicly licensed knowledge. The competitive advantage of the publicly licensed knowledge is only offered to those who will increase the value of that public knowledge by contributing to its growth.
...casts some light, I think, on the real history of intellectual property policy over the last twenty-five years, a history that could be summed up as the failure to consider the input side of the input-output table. Intellectual property policy has consistently under-valued the public domain, over-emphasized the threats and under-emphasized the opportunities presented by new technologies, ignored the extent to which information and information goods are actually bundled with other more excludable phenomena, exaggerated the role that incentives have in producing innovation while minimizing their negative effects, and so on.As a small business person providing services to clients, the type of incentives I need are different than those offered by recent changes to intellectual property policy. I do not require or desire a monopoly on my ideas, as the ability to provide solutions - for a fee - to my clients is all the incentive I need. On the other hand, the legal minefield created by ever-expanding and controversial intellectual property law is a considerable threat to my business, and thus any innovation I may offer.
Ideas which are part of public communication method would not be eligible for patent or copyright protection. In the field of computing this would include user interfaces, application programmer interfaces (APIs), communications protocols and file formats. Whether the communication is encrypted or not should not change its eligibility for protection, and circumvention of an encryption format in order to reverse-engineer the communications method/format should be explicitly protected.
The content of a message being communicated by these methods, an implementation of the method, or a specific document that documents an implementation may be protected subject to the right of a third party to reverse-engineer and publicly document the communications method/format itself.
The justification for these suggestions are included in the 1991 European directive on software which not only does not offer copyright on interfaces, it specifically protects reverse engineering (decompilation) for the purpose of creating compatible products.
Whereas the Community is fully committed to the promotion of international standardization;
Whereas the function of a computer program is to communicate and work together with other components of a computer system and with users and, for this purpose, a logical and, where appropriate, physical interconnection and interaction is required to permit all elements of software and hardware to work with other software and hardware and with users in all the ways in which they are intended to function;
Whereas the parts of the program which provide for such interconnection and interaction between elements of software and hardware are generally known as 'interfaces`;
Whereas this functional interconnection and interaction is generally known as 'interoperability`; whereas such interoperability can be defined as the ability to exchange information and mutually to use the information which has been exchanged;
Whereas, for the avoidance of doubt, it has to be made clear that only the expression of a computer program is protected and that ideas and principles which underlie any element of a program, including those which underlie its interfaces, are not protected by copyright under this Directive;
I will not repeat the entire submission here, but will offer the conclusions.
The most critical problem with patent policy is that the fundamental tests are being ignored. We are also witnessing the addition of new patent types such as software and business model patents where the creation of the monopoly does not serve the public.
There are patents registered with the US patent office which obviously should never have been accepted, with the most often referenced being patent number 5,443,036 , "Method of exercising a cat". As recently as March 26, 2002 we see patent number 6,360,693 , "Animal toy", which appears to cover a wooden stick or tree branch used for an animal to play with.
To suggest that the patent system has become a joke is to forget that this extremely flawed system receives the full force of national and international legal protection. Invalid patents are a considerable threat to any business, especially small businesses who cannot afford the legal fees to fight invalid patents.
One needs to look no further than the Amazon.com "1-click" patent (See: http://www.noamazon.com/) to see the pains that even a large corporation like Barnes & Noble must go through in order to protect itself against an invalid patent. This battle has included considerable public outcry, with people like myself and other organizations requesting all citizens boycott Amazon (See: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/amazon.html )
Another example is the controversy around the JPEG patent claims made by Forgent Networks Inc. The JPEG working group has released a document on their website called "Concerning recent patent claims" which includes:
As a response to this, the JPEG committee will be collecting, through its new web site (to be launched shortly) a substantial repository of prior art and it invites submissions, particularly where the content may be applied to claims of intellectual property. A note will be placed on the web site shortly explaining the process for such submissions.
It has always been a strong goal of the JPEG committee that its standards should be implementable in their baseline form without payment of royalty and license fees, and the committee would like to record their disappointment that some organisations appear to be working in conflict with this goal. Considerable time has been spent in committee in attempting to either arrange licensing on these terms, or in avoiding existing intellectual property, and many hundreds of organisations and academic communities have supported us in our work.
Because of the huge risk to my business that Patents represent, I am a subscriber to the bustpatents.com PATNEWS Email newsletter. I find it inconceivable that patents (especially software or business models patents) could ever help my business, and have always searched for resources to keep me informed on the threats.
There are a number of things that the Canadian Government can do as part of its Innovation Strategy to help reduce the considerable risk the patent system represents to the innovative small business.
Many parts of the current Patent Act make reference to treaties, many of which are with the United States. Continuing this status-quo is a considerable risk to Canadian innovation.
Subsection 27.(8) of the Patent Act indicates, "No patent shall be granted for any mere scientific principle or abstract theorem.". No other examples of things that are not patentable are offered. Items which are and are not inventions should be more clearly spelled out, possibly with anything not explicitly listed as an invention being understood to not be an invention.
Other jurisdictions such as the European Union list "mathematical methods, intellectual methods, ways of doing business, ways of presenting information and programs for computers" as not being inventions.
The organizations that are applying for patents have more resources and potential rewards to fight for valid patents than the general public and/or small businesses have to fight invalid patents that were approved. It should be obvious that it should be those wishing the protections of patents to pay the costs of examination of complex or controversial patents, not those trying to invalidate the patent, and definitely not taxpayers.
55.1 In an action for infringement of a patent granted for a process for obtaining a new product, any product that is the same as the new product shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been produced by the patented process.
The full public pool of Open Source and Free Software, whether via CVS repository, compressed source distribution, or any other public publishing method, should be considered a "printed publication" for the purpose of prior art.
There are a number of reasons offered for this, including arguments contained in past patent laws. Some of these are included on the site http://www.noepatents.org/, including a discussion of applicable law.
European Patent Law is defined by the European Patent Convention (EPC, also called Munich Convention, 20 member states) of 1973.
Instead of a defining formula, the EPC gives in art 52(2) a list of negative examples: items which are not inventions. These include mathematical methods, intellectual methods, ways of doing business, ways of presenting information and programs for computers.
With the speed of innovation in software, especially as demonstrated by the Open Source and Free Software movements, there is evidence that suggests that there would be considerably more innovation without patents as a barrier. Where no demonstrated need for a monopoly as an incentive for innovation can be demonstrated, no monopoly should be granted.
This does not clarify the situation of software patent licensing for Open Source or Free Software. The often used phrase 'reasonable and non-discriminatory' glosses over entire classes of licenses that are discriminatory against Free Software. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#RAND
On September 21, 2000 , the Competition Bureau released its Intellectual Property Enforcement Guidelines. Unlike the 2001 Copyright consultation process, the Open Source community was not made aware of the consultation process and thus did not have a chance to send in any input.
The document is oriented toward those who already have strong support for Intellectual Property and who need explanation of the applicability of Competition policy when Competition and Intellectual Property policy come in conflict. The introduction tries to gloss over some of the huge differences in the purposes of these laws, and the need for balance between the creation of monopolies that IP laws enforce and the protection from the undue influence and other harm of monopolies that Competition law deals with.
It is critical that the Competition Bureau become involved in the Innovation Strategy, as described under part 6 of IPEG. This is a clear case where competition policy advocacy is needed, as the discussion of an Innovation Strategy can not help but deal with the critical interfaces between Intellectual Property and Competition policy.
An important question that the Competition Bureau needs to ask itself is: Is Open Source and Free Software adequately understood as a relevant market?
As an example, I tried to bring a complaint to the Competition Bureau in relation to some vague legal issues with the DVD-CSS technology that is claimed to be owned by the DVD Copy Control Association (DVD CCA). I offered some details in a submission to Industry Canada that was a reply to the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association (CMPDA) submission.
In this case, the IP claimed by the DVD-CCA is excluded from use by any Open Source DVD playing software by virtue of the fact that DVD-CSS is claimed as a trade secret. This trade secret is embedded in any DVD-CCA licensed player.
This "secret" can be determined through simple reverse engineering the data on a DVD-CSS encoded CD, so is in many ways an "open secret". A public domain piece of software named DeCSS, which makes public this "secret", has been converted to many forms of protected free speech such as mathematical descriptions, dramatic readings, and even songs as part of a square-dance. Many of these can be viewed from the DeCSS Gallary hosted by Dr. David S. Touretzky, Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University.
Without purchasing a DVD-CCA licensed CD player, it is claimed in the USA that one cannot legally purchase and view a DVD-CCS encoded DVD movie. This ties the purchase of a DVD movie (one market) to the purchase of a specific subset of DVD players (a second market) is referenced under 'tied selling' which is part of section 77 of the Competition Act.
There is also an issue with the region encoding of DVD movies, which many believe to also be an issue with the Competition Act under barriers to trade.
When I received a reply from the Competition Bureau to my complaint, I was essentially told that that simple answer was that IP policy superseded competition policy. I did not know about IPEG at the time, but my reading of this document essentially mirrors what this investigator told me.
The person who called me also indicated that they did a "relevant market" analysis and found that there was no price issues with DVD players. He suggested that licensed DVD players would need to be expensive for there to be a competition issue. He also suggested that since most movies are released in DVD Region 1 (North America), that there was also no barrier to trade.
This answer seemed to ignore the whole question of the insurmountable barriers to market entry to the DVD player market that exists for Open Source DVD players. The price of the existing proprietary players is not the only issue that should be investigated, but the entire inclusion of the Open Source/Free Software software services market needs to be included in all policy analysis.
As part of IPEG, part 7 offers a few hypothetical examples were used to demonstrate the application of competition law. The example that demonstrates the most critical problem with IPEG is "Example 8: Refusal to License a Standard".
In this example there is both a file format and a user interface, both of which should not be offered any IP rights. This is a critical example to Open Source advocates as the very existence of office suites such as OpenOffice.org, and the adoption of other Open Source desktop software rely on these interfaces not being eligible for IP protection.
CALCULATOR approached ABACUS and requested a licence to copy the words and layout of its menu command hierarchy (for the purpose of this example assume that permission was required since ABACUS had valid IP rights in these works). With permission, CALCULATOR could have relaunched its product with an emulation mode and a key reader, which would have given CALCULATOR the ability to read ABACUS files and ensured compatibility between the two products.Why must we assume that permission was required, or that claimed IP rights are valid? These are cases involving the look-and-feel of the user interface for software, or a file format that should be able to be able to be legally reverse-engineered. These are cases that should never be brought to the competition bureau as the invalidity of these claimed IP rights should be made clear within the copyright and patent acts.
If we substituted the word "CALCULATOR" for OpenOffice.org (specifically the spreadsheet component, called "calc") and "ABACUS" for Microsoft (specifically the component called "excel"), the example would almost become a real-life example. OpenOffice.org is an international community based project and not a company that can run into financial difficulties, but otherwise the issues are similar.
OpenOffice.org can read and write Microsoft Office files, and the look-and-feel (user interface, menu layout, etc) of OpenOffice.org is very similar to that of Microsoft Office. These two facts have been critical in the widespread adoption of this Open Source alternative to Microsoft Office, even though the project is fairly new and just becoming known.
It should be obvious that if ever asked, Microsoft would never license these interfaces to either the OpenOffice.org community project, or to Sun Microsystems which originated OpenOffice.org when it released the StarOffice product to Open Source. Microsoft has been very public with its hostility toward the Open Source and Free Software movements, which represent the greatest threat to its existing monopoly.
One of the simplest ways for domestic governments to deal with illegal monopolies such as Microsoft (which has been tried and convicted in the USA) is to modernize IP and Competition policy to ensure that Competition policy takes precedence. To reiterate, one of the ways to do this is to simply not offer IP protection in areas that would create considerable competitive problems, such as computing interfaces.
Includes a quote: "I don't think you can have science without open source," said Kent, who is credited with helping to produce the first assembly of the human genome
Also see Google Search: http://www.google.ca/search?q=patent+Method+of+exercising+a+cat