Simon Gentry and Software Patents
Simon Gentry is a PR professional who works as a hired-gun outfit for corporate lobby groups. His last campaign which came to public attention was the "Campaign For Creativity" which apparently existed from 2003 to the end of 2005. His company shares the telephone numbers with the "Campaign for Creativity" and he i(or has been) the manager of the (C4C). As of May 2006, *www*.campaignforcreativity.org redirects to Campbellgentry, Gentry's company, while campaignforcreativity.org shows the web site of adovcacy online, a company which is specialized in hosting ad-hoc internet lobbying campaigns. Apparently it was used for the technical part of C4C's web site.
Before launching C4C (which seems to have been a pro-copyright site initially and was just slowly changed into a campaign site for software patents), Gentry managed a very well funded and effective campaign in favor of gene patents in the EU. Gentry .
News & Chronology
For complete News and Chronology on the Campaign for Creativity see [CampaignForCreativityEn], this list only contains news which talk about Simon Gentry:
2005-12 EU Politech-Institute: Article by Simon Gentry and MEP Malcom Harbour (select "!HARBOUR_Malcolm_&_!GENTRY_Simon_volume_3" from the list)
2004-07 UK Gentry writes letter to British Computer Society: "Developers could find it more difficult to create interoperable software, because companies will work hard to hide their code."
- 2004-04-00 Gentry goes public with Campaign for Creativity
- Mail: simon.gentry AT campaignforcreativity.org
- former position "Simon Gentry Association of British Insurers Head of European Affairs"
Lobbyist for the biopatent directive http://www.corporateeurope.org/observer1/patents.html
Gentry's Gene Patent Lobbying Campaign of 1999
Gentry lobbied for the pharmaceutical giant Smithkline Beecham (SB) on the EU Life Patent Directive issue:
- " The pharmaceutical giant Smithkline Beecham (SB) has been one of the most aggressive campaigners for the Directive, launching its own lobby
campaign even before EuropaBio existed. According to SB lobbyist Simon Gentry, the company allocated 30 million ECU from the start for a pro-Directive campaign. "
30 million ECU (Eur) for a pro-EU Life Patent Directive campaign from a single company, what should be the budget for the pro-SWPAT campaign?
The pro-directive campaign eventually succeded by carrying lots of handicapped persons in wheel-chairs into the European Parliament and making them clamor for gene patents "because otherwise the medicines that save us will not be developped".
It should be noted that thanks to Gentry's successful campaigning the EU now has a directive which goes to such extremes in allowing gene patenting that even some big genetics companies are unhappy about it and some governments have tried to attack it at the European Court of Justice or to delay its implementation.
Arguments used by Gentry on Software Patents
Simon Gentry uses standard arguments he might have borrowed from the gene patents debate. Unfortunately they do not apply to software very well. Simon Gentry usually paints opponents in an impolite way. While he accuses others his level/lack of judicial and economical expertise in the field becomes evident.
Developers do not understand patent law (but he does)
Gentry in !ZDnet Talkback on 2004-12-14:
- What a complete farce! A bunch of programmers sitting about tring to understand "technical contribution". They wouldn't know it if it slapped them in the face! They're too busy ripping off other people's work and peddling it as they as their own - whcih is of course is why they want to kill off the CII Directive, so they continue to do so.
The article was not about programmers sitting around but talks at the UKPO. Patents are not common use in the software industry.
Wants to reverse the burden of proof
Gentry in !ZDnet Talkback on 2004-12-14:
- The fact is that patents protect innovation. they do in IT as they do in every other innovation-based industry. Why is IT any different ? (sorry to puncture your balloon, Geeks, but you're just the same as everyone else). base your views on FACT. Provie evidence that the curent practivce of granting what you call "software patents" is doing harm (and don't give US examples, give European ones. ..... Ah, the sound of silence).
Gentry reverses the burden of proof. Application of patent law to a certain field has to be justified. The natural state is a free market and we regard patent law as an incentive system which has to be justified by positive effects. Positive effects are the condition. Patents do not promote innovation by magical means, they are a tool. So do not apply patent law where it fails.
- The fastest way to make software more secret is to abolish patents! Patents are published for all to see, without them companies would use secrecy to protect themselves. Patents also protect small companies from the big and ruthless. In fact they provide the only protection for the little guys."
This is the classicle patent textbook argument but has no relation to reality, at least not in software.
Critics of Council/EUC Directive proposal were anticapitalist Open Source friends with agenda to destroy IP
- It is too expensive for many smaller players and concerns over litigation discourage many from applying for patents. But we cannot begin reform while the whole concept of intellectual property is under attack. Those who oppose patents have a utopian vision of free software created by enthusiasts and donated to the public commonwealth; this is dangerous and naive. There is a link between strong patent systems and economic success.
Counter 'Big guy - small guy' argument
- Criticism of IT patents is often little more than thinly disguised distaste for the major software companies. The activists are threatening millions of jobs.
2004-10-30 WW Linux graphics drivers obstructed by patents -- companies are withholding badly needed information for fear that they could be infringing patents
- The Directive's impact goes far beyond what most people consider software: telephones, cars, domestic appliances, aircraft, etc. etc. are all within the terms of the directive. And these products are not developed by the romantics in the FFII.
FFII is not against patenting telephones and cars. The parliament's version permitts that. Gentry misinformes the public. Simon Gentry tries to inflame and polarise with ad hominem arguments.
Simon Gentry, head of European affairs at the Association of British Insurers, which represents investors with 31,000bn of assets, said: "If there are restrictions, there is a risk that the returns of pension funds won't be as great as they could be." (1)
Mails to his campaign members
Thu, 3 Feb 2005 00:46:20 -0000
From: Simon Gentry <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: European Committee votes to abollish IP for IT Dear Supporters The struggle for protection of intellectual property in Europe received a devastating blow tonight in Brussels. The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee voted overwhelmingly to ask for the Directive on the continued patentability of computer implemented inventions to be sent back to First Reading. This will open the way to a deluge of anti-IP amendments that will probably result in the final stripping away of IP protection for the IT sector. At the very least we can expect at least another year of deep legal instability. At worst - and this is what I expect - the Parliament has slipped beyond influence and will, in time, vote to strip Europe's innovative IT industry of any legal protection. We are therefore very close to allowing those who invest nothing in research, innovation and development to steal innovations without any threat of legal consequence. The European Parliament has proven its weakness and inability to resist the basest form of common populism. The assault on patents - based on a deliberate distortion of the facts - has, in effect, won. I am sorry if I sound a bit emotional. But is difficult for me not to be when I have had to listen this evening to supporters who have spent years creating an innovative product and who now clearly see that the moment they put it on the market the large players will sweep in and copy it - and make a fortune in the process. Europe seems determined to kill off it's wealth creators. On the other hand, as I said to an MEP this evening, so what if we don't have any innovation in Europe, our children can always sew shirts for the Chinese ; ) I am seriously considering winding up the Campaign for Creativity. Set against the apparently limitless resources - both human and financial - of the anti-patent lobby, the cause seems lost. It is difficult to continue to work so hard against a background of indifference from most and hostility from many. It would be useful to know what you think. Please let me know. Regards and very best wishes for the future. Simon Gentry Campaign for Creativity Barley Mow Centre 10 Barley Mow Passage London W4 4PH 00 44 (0)77 6027 4414