Summary of Jan 2023 call with Panos and Ciaran from the FSF

The following is a summary of the call with Ciarán O’Riordan and Panos Alevropoulos of the FSF on the 18th of January, 2023. Ciarán started the End Software Patents (ESP) project in the early 2000s. Panos is currently leading the ESP effort.

Ciarán started the conversation by talking about the upcoming EU Standard-Essential Patents regulation (upcoming talk by Ciaran) and asked about the current state of software patents in India. @Venkatesh_Hariharan (Venky) briefly discussed the history of the effort against software patents in India, starting with the effort in 2005 and the successful but short lived changes to the patent manual by the Patent Office in India. Venky mentioned how the issue of software patents is brought up everytime a new software trend catches on e.g. IoT was the last trend and AI being the current trend which is causing the Indian Government to reconsider software patents. Venky talked about the discussions we have had with people in the PMO office, with the Director-General of the Patent Office, various industry associations like iSPIRT, SaaSBoomi and other non-profits like the Indian chapter of the SFLC. See earlier forum posts 1, 2, 3 for some of the prior work that FOSS United has done.

Ciarán mentioned the need to prepare arguments from multiple angles when discussing the issue with elected representatives (e.g. politicians). He mentioned that ESP Wiki is a repository of arguments against software patents contributed by the community. He mentioned the need to have two separate websites when advertising the effort against software patents. One website is directed towards laymen, journalists and politicians. The second is directed towards the community, the ESP Wiki being an example of the latter. Panos mentioned how the ESP Wiki contains entries related to the effort in various countries. Ciarán then talked about the state of software patents in the US and how that impacts the regulation in the EU. Venky and Ciarán discussed the practice of placing bug bounties for the discovery of prior art that invalidates software patents. Panos mentioned how displaying the efforts across the world on a map might help aid a better understanding of the effort.

Venky mentioned how changing the patent regulations in India, and a few other developing countries like Brazil, can have a ripple effect across the entire world, especially given India’s status as the software hub of the world. Ciarán mentioned the lack of strong case law in most places except the US. Rahul K mentioned how the increased patent output of China is being used as a reason why countries like the US are considering allowing software patents. Venky mentioned how climbing the Global Innovation Index is being used as another reason why software patents are being considered in India.

@Gayathri_Poti mentioned the fact that a lot of companies will want to avoid litigation in India, given the many years/decades that the cases can drag on. Any legal proceeding might potentially start with an injunction that prevents a company from being able to use the software under dispute. Additionally, many lower-level judges don’t have a solid understanding of software patents.

Ciarán proposed an interesting idea of generating software patents using ChatGPT and prompting individuals to distinguish software patents generated by ChatGPT against actual software patents. He explained how there is a fundamental lack of understanding in regards to AI/ML and how such ideas/experiments might be used to illustrate the problem with software patents.

We plan on having a regular cadence of calls to exchange notes and brain storm ideas. We are also reaching out to #EndSoftwarePatents activists in South Africa, Nigeria, Argentina and other countries to share our learnings and create a global movement in this area.


  • Ciarán O’Riordan (FSF)
  • Panos Alevropoulos (FSF)
  • Venkatesh Hariharan (FOSS United)
  • Gayatri Poti (FOSS United)
  • Rahul Kulkarni (FOSS United)
  • Poruri Sai Rahul (FOSS United)