Patenting and Patent Lobbying Activities at SAP

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Only in 1999 did SAP start with its own patenting activities. This was in reaction to litigation threats in the USA, based on trivial software patents, which SAP could avoid only by paying 1,5 million USD to the patentees. SAP woke up, installed a patent department and started joining the lobbying efforts in favor of software patentability in Europe. These efforts are very unpopular within SAP and among SAP partners, but they have gained support from new top managers such as Henning Kagermann. In the final weeks before the Parliament's 2nd reading, SAP ran fullpage advertisements in Brussels newspapers calling for support of the Council's Common Position which, as SAP said, secured patentability of its achievements. These advertisements were useful for arguing that the Common Position, in spite of all the hypocrisy surrounding it, indeed legalises pure software and business method patents.

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recent Patents or patent applications:

Companies like Siemens and SAP counter that they must protect the inventions that are their lifeblood and on which they spend billions of euros each year.

SAP's chief executive, Henning Kagermann, has been an outspoken advocate of European software patents, arguing that the current position puts Europe at a disadvantage to the United States, where software can be patented.

And Siemens, which is Germany's biggest patent holder with 45,000 patents and spends more than ¬5bn ($6.2bn) a year on research and development, agrees.

"We have about 30,000 software programmers, and of course we have a big interest in protecting what they develop," a Siemens R&D spokesman said.

SAP's anti-open-source agenda?

This staement could backfire at him internally a bit, because the CRM/ERP market is expected to grow and Linux is the fastest growing platform SAP is running on, from a recent interview:

Translation of the Linux part:

Computerweek Germany: Companies are interested in Linux as Platform for business/mission-critical applications. Which value has Linux for SAP?

Kagermann: Linux is very important for us. The share of installations which run it is still low today but the growth rate is 60 to 70 per cent. Especially we see this in Asia. In addition, there a Linux ambitions in the public sector to not become addicted to one Supplyer.

If SAP (as a whole) an anti-open-source agenda, then SAP would not have made their mySAP suite generally available for use on Linux as reliable OS in mission-critical environments back in 1999. And it would not countinue to grow this customer base.

Besides the 70% growth of their Linux installs, SAP still has relatively few patents, compared to MS and now MS also has got access to the 45.000 patents of SIEMENS which gives MS 55.000 patents with at least 3 more every week.


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