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<nettime> European Parliament Decision against Software Patentability
Felix Stalder on Thu, 25 Sep 2003 14:16:35 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> European Parliament Decision against Software Patentability


The discussion on software patents in the EU parliament in Strasbourg has
triggered one of the most substantive political manifestations of the Open
Source / Free Software communities in Europe to date. In Vienna, for
example, there was a demonstration in front of the patent office, with a
surprisingly large turnout, 300 people [1] (very few software artists,
though). In other cities the story was similar [2].

These, and many other, initiatives had some success and positive
last-minute admendments were introduced. Apparently, most members of
parliament were rather surprised by the level of public response, as they
thought this to be an uncontroversial technicality, which was how it was
presented to them by the industry.

Below is an evaluation of the new patent directive in Europe. As usual,
there is quite a bit of uncertainty as to how it is going to be
implemented.

Felix


[1] http://wiki.ael.be/index.php/InfoStandVienna
[2] http://wiki.ael.be/index.php/InfoStands


----------  Forwarded Message  ----------

Subject: [ffii] EP Decision against Software Patentability
Date: Thursday 25 September 2003 09:05
From: Hartmut Pilch <phm {AT} a2e.de>
To: news {AT} ffii.org

FFII News -- For Immediate Release -- Please Redistribute
+++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++ +++
            EU Parliament Votes for Real Limits on Patentability
                            Strasburg 2003/09/24
                           For immediate Release

   In its plenary vote on the 24th of September, the European Parliament
   approved the proposed directive on "patentability of
   computer-implemented inventions" with amendments that clearly restate
   the non-patentability of programming and business logic, and uphold
   freedom of publication and interoperation.

     * [9]Backgrounds
     * [10]Media Contacts
     * [11]About the FFII -- www.ffii.org
     * [12]About the Eurolinux Alliance -- www.eurolinux.org
     * [13]Permanent URL of this Press Release
     * [14]Annotated Links

Backgrounds

   The day before the vote, CEC Commissioner Bolkestein had
   [15]threatened that the Commission and the Council would withdraw the
   directive proposal and hand the questions back to the national patent
   administrators on the board of the European Patent Office (EPO),
   should the Parliament vote for the amendments which it supported
   today. "It remains to be seen, whether the European Commission is
   committed to "harmonisation and clarification" or only to patent owner
   interests", says Hartmut Pilch, president of FFII. "This is now our
   directive too. We must help the European Parliament defend it."

   "The directive text as amended by the European Parliament is
   unbelievably good! I couldn't believe it as I was posting it article
   by article to the Slashdot story. It just gets better and better, and
   it hangs together incredibly cohesively. I think we have done
   something amazing this week" exclaimed James Heald, a member of the
   FFII/Eurolinux software patent working group, as he put together the
   voted amendments into a [16]consolidated version.

   "With the new provisions of article 2, a computer-implemented
   invention is no longer a trojan horse, but a washing machine",
   explains Erik Josefsson from SSLUG and FFII, who has been advising
   Swedish MEPs on the directive in recent weeks. That the majorities for
   the voted amendments had support from very different political groups
   - this reflects the arduous political discussion that had led to two
   postponements before.

   However, when 78 amendments are voted in 40 minutes some glitches are
   bound to happen: "The recitals were not amended thouroughly. One of
   them still claims algorithms to be patentable when they solve a
   technical problem.", says Jonas Maebe, Belgian FFII representative
   currently working in the European Parliament. "But we have all the
   ingredients for a good directive. We've been able to do the rough
   sculpting work. Now the patching work can begin. The spirit of the
   European Patent Convention is 80% reaffirmed, and the Parliament is in
   a good position to remove the remaining inconsistencies in the second
   reading."

   The directive will have to withstand further consultation with the
   Council of Ministers that is more informal and hence less public than
   Parliamentary Procedures. In the past, the Council of Ministers has
   left patent policy decisions to its "patent policy working party",
   which consists of patent law experts who are also sitting on the
   administrative council of the European Patent Office (EPO). This group
   has been one of the most determined promoters of unlimited
   patentability, including program claims, in Europe.

   Says Laura Creighton, software entrepreneur and venture capitalist,
   who has supported the FFII/Eurolinux campaign with donations and
   travelled from Sweden to Brussels several times to attend conferences
   and meetings with MEPs:

     Now those people who claimed to be opposed to having a US style
     mess, but only liked the bill because it permitted such things,
     will have to expose themselves. I predict a good number of them
     will claim that we must not pass this one, because we need a bill
     that makes us more similar to the US and Japan for the sake of not
     angering our trading partners.

     Now is the time to ask European politicians to show courage, and
     world leadership and vote up the directive that the American
     citizens, government, SMEs and Alan Greenspan wish they had instead
     of the current mess. Ask them to harmonise with Europe. The members
     of the European Parliament deserve thanks for their efforts in
     understanding the social consequences of this admittedly difficult
     technical decision. This has not happened anywhere else in the
     world so far. We Europeans can be proud of this political
     achievement, and I hope our politicians share this pride.

Media Contacts

   mail:
          pr at ffii org

   phone:
          Hartmut Pilch +49-89-18979927

          Jonas Maebe +32-485-369645

          Erik Josefsson +46-707-696567

          Alex Macfie +44 7901 751753

          More Contacts to be supplied upon request

About the FFII -- www.ffii.org

   The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a
   non-profit association registered in Munich, which is dedicated to the
   spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of
   public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open
   standards. More than 300 members, 500 companies and 40,000 supporters
   have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy
   questions in the area of exclusion rights (intellectual property) in
   data processing.

About the Eurolinux Alliance -- www.eurolinux.org

   The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
   open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
   united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture
   based on copyright, open standards, open competition and open source
   software such as Linux. Corporate members or sponsors of EuroLinux
   develop or sell software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses
   for operating systems such as GNU/Linux, MacOS or MS Windows.

   [1][DE Deutsch] [2][translatable text] [3][howto help] [4][printable
   version] [5][Readers' Comments]

   [6]EP 03-06-26 [7]EP 03-06-20 [8]Linus 03-09-22 EP 03-09-24

Permanent URL of this Press Release

   http://swpat.ffii.org/news/03/plen0924/index.en.html

Annotated Links

   -> [17]Links to Documents related to the Plenary Vote
          Contains Results of the Vote

   -> [18]Europarl 2003/09 Software Patent Directive Amendments: Real vs
          Fake Limits
          Results of the Vote to be entered into this table

   -> [19]Bolkestein's Threats
   -> [20]McCarthy 03-02-19: Denying the EP its right to set the rules
          McCarthy uttered the same threats in February already. The FFII
          analysis of her paper pointed out that she couldn't have
          uttered them if there was not someone at the European
          Commission backing her. Now we know who her backer was.

          see [21]Frits Bolkestein and Software Patents

   -> [22]McCarthy Voting List
          This voting list is based on a compromise within PSE. It
          introduces several amendments which are contrary in spirit to
          McCarthy's [23]JURI draft report. Yet only 1/3 or the PSE
          members followed this voting lists. The rest created a voting
          list of its own, which is closer to the FFII recommendations.
          McCarthy was thus completely marginalised.

   -> [24]McCarthy Press Release
          The PSE-UK rapporteur, whose hardline pro-patent voting list
          was not followed by any political group in the Parliament,
          presents her defeat as a victory, all the while not forgetting
          to lash out against "misinformation campaign" let by an unnamed
          group, probably the "Free Software Alliance".

          see [25]Free Software Alliance

   -> [26]Plenary Debate 03/09/23
          Rough Transcript of the Speeches given in the Plenary Debate of
          2003/09/23.

   -> [27]Who voted how
          Tabular listing based on [28]MSWord original from the Europarl
          website.

   -> [29]Analysis of MEP voting
          Report for all MEPs from Belgium. If they completely followed
          the [30]FFII voting list, they get 100%. A similar analysis is
          under way for all MEPs. First results show that many EPP
          deputies followed Kauppi (against software patents) rather than
          Wuermeling (pro software patents).

   -> [31]FFII Neues Archiv
          may contain some current news

   -> [32]FFII News Archive
          may contain some current news

   -> [33]CEU/DKPTO 2002/09/23..: Software Patentability Directive
          Amendment Proposal
          In 2002 the patent administrators of the Council pushed for
          unlimited patentability, although according to the procedural
          rules of EU legislation it was not yet their turn. Like the
          European Commission's Directorate for the Internal Market, the
          Council's "Patent Policy Working Group" is an institution on
          which the patent department of big IT companies can count. It's
          members are always willing to act against written instructions
          of their own government, if the consensus of the patent lobby
          demands this.

References

  15.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/deba/index.en.html#bol
k 16.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/resu/index.en.html 17.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/index.en.html#links
 18. http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/index.en.html 19.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/deba/index.en.html#bol
k 20.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/amccarthy0302/index.en.html#alt
ern 21. http://swpat.ffii.org/players/bolkestein/index.en.html
  22. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/plen0924/amccvotlst0309.pdf
  23. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/juri0617/index.en.html
  24. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/plen0924/amccarthy-pr030924.pdf
  25. http://swpat.ffii.org/players/fsa/index.en.html
  26.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/deba/index.en.html 27.
 http://mond.at/swpat/voting.txt
  28.
 http://www.europarl.eu.int/direct/documents/fr/vote/Resultats/Mercredi/Appel
s%20nominaux%202003-09-24.doc 29.
 http://www.student.kun.nl/dieter.vanuytvanck/swpat/rapport.html 30.
 http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/plen0309/vote/index.en.html 31.
 http://lists.ffii.org/archive/mails/neues/index.html
  32. http://lists.ffii.org/archive/mails/news/index.html
  33. http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/eubsa-swpat0202/dkpto0209/index.en.html
  34. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/plen0626/index.en.html
  35. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/plen0620/index.en.html
  36. http://swpat.ffii.org/neues/03/linu0922/index.en.html
  37. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html
  38. http://swpat.ffii.org/group/index.en.html

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