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German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chirac To Do the Same
Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 12:51 PM EDT

Heise has the news: A German politician told demonstrators that Germany will vote against the software patent directive of the Council of the European Union. This is a turn-around, and according to Mathias, who brought this story to my attention, it is the direct result of grassroots lobbying efforts. Germany must never adopt the US system, Elmar Hucko, Ministerial Director in the Federal Department of Justice, said, to cheers from demonstrators. Others at the demonstration pointed out the danger such patents pose to FOSS software.

Here is the computer translation of that part of what Hucko said:

"'We want American conditions in no case in Europe', avowed Hucko with a view of the patenting in the USA. A patent must for a fair 'reward for a seriously meant invention' remain and may not not as strategy to the 'Niederknueppeln of the competition' be abused."

Here is the German, so you can improve the translation:

"'Wir wollen auf keinen Fall amerikanische Verhältnisse in Europa', erklärte Hucko mit einem Blick auf das Patentwesen in den USA. Ein Patent müsse weiter eine 'Belohnung für eine ernst gemeinte Erfindung' bleiben und dürfe nicht als Strategie zum 'Niederknüppeln der Konkurrenz' missbraucht werden."

Groklaw's Scriptwriter offers a human translation:

"'Under no circumstances do we want American procedures in Europe,' Hucko vowed with regard to the US patent process. A patent must be 'a fair reward for a bona fide invention and not abused as a strategy to bludgeon competitors.'"

In France a letter was sent to the President from leaders in the IT industry there, asking him to vote against patents too, when it comes to the vote on May 17 and 18. They call business methods patents on software corporate racketeering and say they don't want to copy US methods:

"The 26 professionals warned the president in an open letter that if adopted, this text 'would destroy many value-added jobs in France, would force Europe into a subservient position in matters of software technologies, and would encourage anti-competitive practices'.

"Jean-Paul Smets, director of the consulting firm Nexedi, and one of the signatories, told Reuters: 'We request that France defend what the president has always said [he would], that is innovation...'"

Here is the French for that section:

"S'il est adopté, ce texte 'détruirait de nombreux emplois à valeur ajoutée en France, renforcerait la vassalisation de l'Europe en matière de technologies logicielles et favoriserait les pratiques anti-concurrentielles', ont averti 26 professionnels dans une lettre ouverte au président de la République.

"'Nous demandons que la France défende ce que le président a toujours dit, c'est-à-dire l'innovation . . .'"

The head of Mandrakesoft called such patents as are proposed corporate racketeering, and he mentioned the Sony-JPEG and the SCO-Linux-IBM cases as examples of misusing the legal structure in the US for anti-competitive purposes:

"[They] fear that there will ensue an avalanche of lawsuits, similar to what is happening at present against several large American software companies.

"Those lawsuits are most often initiated by businesses that have nothing to do with research and development.

"'Corporate Racketeering'

"Jacques Le Marois, president of Mandrakesoft, one of the popular versions of the Linux operating system, declared: 'In the USA, more and more enterprises are developing portfolios of software patents which they later use to muscle other companies. Clearly Europe is facing the risk of that happening here'."

Here is the French for that part:

"Dans cette hypothèse, les éditeurs craignent une avalanche de procès sur le modèle de ceux qui frappent actuellement plusieurs grandes entreprises informatiques américaines.

"Ces procès sont le plus souvent initiés par des sociétés n'ayant aucun lien avec la recherche et développement.


"'Aux Etats-Unis, de plus en plus de sociétés ont développé des portefeuilles de brevets logiciels qui leur servent ensuite à racketter les industriels. C'est clairement ce qui risque de se passer en Europe', a déclaré Jacques Le Marois, président de Mandrakesoft, éditeur d'une des versions les populaires du système d'exploitation Linux."

Nobody is arguing that software doesn't need protection, said Jean-Paul Figer, Director of R & D for Cap Gemini, but copyright protection is "quite sufficient":

"'Copyright is better suited to protect intellectual works. This proposed project is as if we patented mathematical formulas and people were forbidden to use them under the pretext that they are discoveries', he added."

Here is the French for that part:

"'Personne ne conteste qu'il faille protéger le logiciel, mais la protection actuelle par le copyright est largement suffisante', a expliqué Jean-Paul Figer, directeur de l'innovation chez Cap Gemini.

"'Le copyright est beaucoup mieux adapté à la protection des oeuvres de l'esprit. Ce projet, c'est comme si on brevetait les formules mathématiques et qu'on empêchait les gens de les utiliser sous prétexte que c'est une découverte', a-t-il ajouté."

The Heise report mentions that there have been demonstrations against the patents proposal in Munich, Lisbon and Vienna. Others are planned in Linz, Copenhagen and Madrid.

Mandrakesoft put out a statement, in which it calls a spade a spade:

"Flash: EU Software Patent Legislation: a real threat for Linux and Open Source

"Mandrakesoft would like to alert all users and the software community at large about a recent clandestine attack by proprietary interest through covert adoption of EU Software Patent Legislation.

"In direct contravention of the recent vote by the European Parliament to curtail Software Patents, the Irish Presidency of the European Union has surreptitiously reinstated unlimited software patent language into the text of a statement to be adopted by the European Council of Ministers on Monday May, 17th, without further debate!

"The new text, if adopted, will extend Software Patents to every piece of software, including computer programs, data structures, and process descriptions. This will directly harm most software firms and all Open Source projects unable to pay patent licensing tribute, and amounts to an appropriation of the public domain by proprietary interests. A direct beneficiary will be a new class of pure patent companies without any real business or contribution to employment, which will use the threat of litigation to extort payments.

"Of note is that a sponsor of the Irish Presidency is Microsoft, currently building a large patent portfolio. If the Software Patent text is adopted, Microsoft may use this patent portfolio against Linux and other Open Source projects.

"Mandrakesoft would like to forewarn and mobilize its users and the software community about the very real threat of such a law. Please contact the media, your political representatives, and your government, and urge them to vote against unlimited Software Patents and to revert to the previous European Parliament position.

"For further information please see the following links:

"Mandrakesoft Online Team."


German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chirac To Do the Same | 141 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:00 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

URLs and other links here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:01 PM EDT

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Computer Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:02 PM EDT
I much agree with the German response. The US patent system is terribly flawed
and I congratulate any country on not adopting the ways of the US. I, being a
US citizen, am embarrassed to see how low some US companies will go (Sco, MS,
etc.) to make money.

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:07 PM EDT
I'm an Irish man abroad, and I feel ashamed that the Irish Government took the
line they did.

Good for the Germans, at least some of my European bretheren have their heads
and hearts in the right place.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'd like to hear from some Irish people
Authored by: Jude on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:11 PM EDT
I wouldn't expect the Irish to sell their own freedom so cheaply, so I have to
wonder if the actions of the Irish Presidency really reflect the will of the
Irish people. I'd like to hear some first-hand options from people who live in

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dutch protest in Den Haag on Friday
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:16 PM EDT
Tomorrow there will be a protest in Den Haag (The Netherlands). Please sign up.

(For people from Amsterdam, we leave at 8:30 from Centraal Station, perron 11a/b.)

See also the Dutch article Nederlands protest tegen softwarepatenten.

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:17 PM EDT
For those close to The Hague, a demonstration is planned there on friday (14 may):

(kun dankoj al mihxil)

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: drreagan on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:20 PM EDT
Has anyone got any idea how the UK MEPs are planning to vote?

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: Sander on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:25 PM EDT

Far as I know Germany always had a no vote for software patent, together with Belgium and another 2 countries. But if one country (France?) jumps to our side then software patents are off (for now)

Nice way to demonstrate how stupid software patents are, checkout 20 Patent webshop

C++ programming languages, we own those, have licensed them out multiple times, obviously. We have a lot of royalties coming to us from C++. -- Darl McBride

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's about staying competitive...
Authored by: OmniGeek on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:36 PM EDT
FOSS will continue to be the leading edge in the world, you can depend on it.
Many countries that see FOSS as a way to foster a domestic software
infrastructure independent of American domination (mainly Microsoft) will pursue
it, US and EU software patents or no.

The result will be that those countries that subscribe to a restrictive software
patent regime (and consequently restrict FOSS as infringing the big boys'
patents) will be strangling their own competitiveness in the long term for the
sole benefit of a few rich corporate players.

This message, if effectively conveyed to one's government representatives,
should cause the more clueful among them to question the sanity of the whole
software patent concept.

My strength is as the strength of ten men, for I am wired to the eyeballs on

[ Reply to This | # ]

Way OT: Separated at birth?
Authored by: jbb on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 02:47 PM EDT
Does the picture on the cover of the Dahmer Video remind you of anyone? The resemblence is uncanny.

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 03:21 PM EDT
"'Wir wollen auf keinen Fall amerikanische Verhältnisse in Europa',
erklärte Hucko mit einem Blick auf das Patentwesen in den USA. Ein Patent müsse
weiter eine 'Belohnung für eine ernst gemeinte Erfindung' bleiben und dürfe
nicht als Strategie zum 'Niederknüppeln der Konkurrenz' missbraucht

With regard to the American patent laws, Hucko explained that "Under no
circumstances do we want american conditions in Europe. A patent ought to stay a
'reward for a honest invention' and should not be misused as a strategy to
'forcefully suppress the competition'"

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chirac To Do the Same
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 03:28 PM EDT
I propose to patent the process of applying for a patent. This type of recursive
patent would then allow me to sue any and all patent holders for using my idea
for their own gain. No one would date patent anything again. Muahahaha!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Feedback for politicians - a sample letter
Authored by: TobiasBXL on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 04:01 PM EDT
Hi everybody,

I have already posted this here on a lower level and I have been asked by email
to publish it again as a direct reply so that more people can enjoy this.

I have attended a political debate with four young EP candidates in Brussels on
Tuesday. When it came to questions from the audience I raised the issue of
software patents and with the exception of the Green candidate from France all
of them were in favour of patents. Those in favour were: Han Ten Broeke from the
Dutch Liberals and former cell phone company "Base" manager,
Christopher Fjellner for the Swedish conservatives and Jo Wood for the British
Labour party.

I had the opportunity to engage two of them in discussion after the event and
they have agreed that I send them additional information. Whether their interest
is genuine or not I can't say but at least they offered it. All of them are
utterly misinformed or not informed at all about the matter. I think I did a
good job of stopping them cold. They seem to be in favour of something they
don't even understand.

This is why I have compiled a quick summary of the excellent material the FFII
offers on its website along with the official EU documents from the Commission,
the EP and the Council. I mailed it to Jo Wood, Han Ten Broeke and Christopher
Fjellner today.

Feel free to use this email as a template to write your own emails to
politicians and possibly candiates for the upcoming elections. I feel we still
have a chance to stop this madness if we act massively. The weapon the lobbies
are using against us is misinformation and use of traditional political slogans.
Or put as we know it: FUD. Let's do something about it.

So here is my sample letter. Feel free to use it. Please remove my name and any
reference to my name from it when you change the content/meaning.

Dear candidates,

I have compiled a quick summary of what I think are the most useful
documents on the web to illustrate the madness of software patents. Most
of these documents have been compiled from different sources and are
hosted by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)
which is a strong opponent of software patents. The FFII describes
itself as:

"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 400 members, 1000 companies and 60000 supporters
have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions
in the area of exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data

Jo Wood expressed her belief during the debate that software patents are
subject to methods that prevent abuse. I advise her and everybody else
to take a look at what has already been patented "against the letter and
spirit of the existing laws" as the FFII puts it:

A very good example of common patent practise showing a typical webshop
and the patents it would already violate:
The shop being shown in the illustration already is in violation of 20
registered European patents. None of these patents protects an
"invention" in the sense you and I would use the term that would
the protection by a legal monopoly.

The webshop is just one area where patents might be used to hinder
competition to enter new markets. There already exist more than 30.000
patents on software granted by the European Patent Office. The FFII has
compiled a database of the most ridiculous and dangerous patents:
and a specific example for quick entry:

These patents pursue no other goal than to be used as weapons against
legitimate competition. Speaking about software patents, people often
compare them to a mine field for developers since they never know what
patent they might trigger next by using common software elements to
develop new products.

A look across the ocean is defining. The British Telecom claimed it has
a patent on hyperlinks, a method used to link one web document to
another, basically defining the working of the world wide web (WWW).
Have a look at the U.S. patent and judge for yourself if you had been
able to spot that this patent might be applicable on hyperlinks as used
within the WWW:
I cannot believe you want to create the same situation for Europe while
there is massive and numerous experience with the usability of patents
in the U.S. that should utterly deter us.

Concerning the questions as for who is benefiting from legislating those
more than 30.000 patents already registered in Europe, let's take a look
at *who* registered them:
The page shows that more than 50% of those 30.000 patents have been
registered by U.S. based companies and another rough 25% by Japanese
based companies. Only 25% of already registered patents have been
registered by European companies. See for a pie

Do you really want to legislate those patents and hand foreign companies
such a strong weapon against our own economy? Who do you want to
represent? The Unites States? Or Europe? The nature of software patents
is defined by a *very* broad application of a single patent. If you look
at the description contained inside a patent you'll immediately
recognise that the use of a patent can be interpreted very broadly. This
is the intend in order to be able to attack as many implemented
applications as possible. Patents cover more than they should in most

Now, if you please take a look at the amended directive as being agreed
upon by the parliament:
and compare it with the original proposal by commissioner Frits
and the current working paper of the council:

A consolidated version of the amended directive "on the patentability of
computer-implemented inventions" for which the European Parliament voted
on 2003-09-24, published by the FFII in a more readable format with
cross references:

A short summary on the key points of the parliament's vote and the
amended version:

An in-depth analysis of the working paper of the council and its

The FFII has compiled a short comparison between the council's version
and the amended version by parliament in a neat table:

If you need information about the voting behaviour of the EP on the
amended version, you'll probably find this page helpful:

Today, news dropped that a German government official has announced that
the German government will vote against the working paper in the
council. The news has been spread by a German news service provided by I am sure this development
will propel the debate into national domains as national parliaments
have kept disturbingly quiet on the issue.

I am very thankful for your attention. If you have further questions or
remarks don't hesitate to contact me. I urge you to consider using the
FFII as a platform to discuss this issue and foster political debate on
this very important matter. The FFII offers a mailing list service that
will keep you informed on the latest developments and positions on the

yours sincerely,
Tobias Weisserth

I hope you'll find this useful and pass it on to your local politicians.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Is the problem really software patents?
Authored by: DaveAtFraud on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 04:30 PM EDT
I contend that the problem is not software patents per se but rather the scope of what the U.S. patent office is allowing to be patented. Patents for physical items are generally very narrow. Thus, there are innumerable choices for things like shavers, hair dryers, pens, radios, etc.; the specific implementation of each being unique (and patented) but they perform the same function as their competitors. Somehow software patents have been allowed on functionality regardless of implementation. Had this interpretation existed back when, Dan Bricklin could have patented the very concept of a spreadsheet. This would be the equivalent of Jules Verne being granted a patent on the science fiction novel. This is just wrong. It was never the intention of patents to stop everyone else from creating something that performed the same function; they just couldn't duplicate what the inventor had created but had to come up with a different way of doing it (e.g., the current, "How many blades can we stick in a razor?").

On the other hand, I tend to agree with Jean-Paul Figer of Cap Gemini that copyright is sufficient for protecting software IP since a narrowly scoped patent such as I describe above is almost indistinguishable from a copyright. I've been developing software for 24 years and I can think of only a handfull of things that are unique enough to justify patenting. Of course, when you understand how things work, the less they look like amazing discoveries and the more they look like a simple progression from the past.

Quietly implementing RFC 1925 wherever I go.

[ Reply to This | # ]

German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
Authored by: JustFree on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 04:54 PM EDT
This is something that is very good for the software industry. There are reports that the DMCA is being reviewed because it is to restrictive to consumers.

I would not like to develop software, to be told later that I am infringing on someone patents and must pay royalties for this. Spending my free time to develop a program, without any financial help and being told that I must pay someone money that I do not have is just plain wrong.

If I had copied their program verbatim that I am guilty of plagiarism, and this is what the copyright act protect against.

Hearing augments that software patents help innovation, is just like putting the carriage before the horse and wondering why nothing is happening.

We don't need more M$ and SCO Groups.

as in free speech get it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Kinda OT: Does Windash infringe this patent?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 05:00 PM EDT
A W ired article describes a patent, newly issued, claiming the process of flooding a universe with bogosity, to conceal the real stuff. The article describes its usage in p2p networks, flooding the network with bogus music-looking files, thus obscuring the existence of 'real' music files. This patent brings up two thoughts:
  • This is a standard practice in the field of secure communications. For ages, the US Navy's secure radio transmitters have transmitted bogosity whenever there was no real traffic. The purpose has been to obscure real traffic--if the transmitter goes dark between messages, it's much easier to identify a message, giving a head start on decyphering it. (US Navy isn't the only user of this technique; they just happen to tbe the ones that came to mind.)
  • Of course, M$ has used this technique for ages. They distribute bogus operating-system-like programs, to obscure the existence of real operating systems.

    And what, pray tell, is 'Windash'? M$ argues that 'Lindows', 'Lindash', and 'Windows' are equivalent names fort its aforementioned bogus OS-like program. 'Windash' just completes the equivalence set.

    --Bill P

    [ Reply to This | # ]

  • German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chirac To Do the Same
    Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 05:19 PM EDT
    (1) Assuming that either Germany or France votes against it, does it mean that
    the Irish President's motion in favor of software patents is dead as currently

    (2) Assuming that the Irish President sees the writing on the wall and offers to
    negotiate a compromise, what are the chances of either Germany or France
    standing firm against blandishments or threats? I believe that either Microsoft
    or the US Department of Commerce got to the Irish powers-that-be, which explains
    the single-mindedness of the Irish President's drive: some promises must have
    been made and some threats must have been conveyed. I don't think that in this
    instance, the Irish President is looking out for the long term interests of
    either EU or her own country.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chirac To Do the Same
    Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 05:25 PM EDT
    A successful EU stand against US style software patents will make it more likely
    that APEC will also make a stand against US style software patents. As an
    American, I find it annoying that my government does not give two hoots about my
    opinion, and that I am reduced to hoping that our trade partners bring
    significant pressure on the US government over this subject.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    About the french letter
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 06:20 PM EDT

    Although the open letter is a good idea, I don't think Chirac will budge on this issue. First, everyone who signed it heads an Open Source or related company (you can get the complete list on the AFUL website). It would have been great if some companies like Cap Gemini, who appear to think patents are bad (at least, I so infer from the article) had signed it too. As it is, it won't have much impact.

    Another problem is political connections. Make no mistake : Chirac was re-elected mainly because the utter failure of the previous leftist Prime Minister threatened to let far right politician Le Pen gain more power, not because he did well on his last term. And, although he sometimes oppose Bush, he's no less corrupt : old affairs about rigged contracts from when he was mayor of Paris still haunt him. One of the staunchest proponents of software patents, Janelly Fourtou is connected to Nicole Fontaine, the current Industry Minister, and to Chirac himself through her husband, Jean-René Fourtou, who is now CEO of Vivendi Universal after being put by Chirac a decade ago at the helm of the former giant Rhône-Poulenc, now part of Aventis. Guess who Chirac will lend his ear to ?

    Hence, I don't expect anything from this initiative. Its proponents are well meaning, but they don't stand a chance IMHO. The only hope is if Germany can veto the Irish proposal. But can they ? I must say I'm not a specialist about European law, but I sure hope this is part of the decisions that can be vetoed. The EUCD is already creating enough problems, no need to add software patents to that hostile climate...

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Things doesn't look very good in Spain
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 06:27 PM EDT
    Today, the spanish leading anti-sw-patent association -ProInnova- took the spanish 25000 signatures of the 328000 that EuroLinux managed to get in opposition to software patents to the Spanish Ministry of Industry.

    Proinnova only managed to take around 20 people to this act. It seems that Proinnova intention had been to make a demostration against software patents of the act.

    Jesus Gonzalez Barahona, representative of ProInnova, gave the signatures and had a one hour meeting with a minister's representative to discuss the issue.

    After the meeting, Mr Gonzalez summarized Ministry of Industry position in the following terms:

    "They are in favour of a 'political decision', and have guaranteed that next Monday Spain is going to act 'according to our electoral programme' which sounds promising. But when we asked if we had understood properly and, therefore, spanish representative was going to vote 'no' to patents in the European Council of Ministers, they replied that that was an interpretation of us."
    Therefore, don't expect much from spanish representative.

    Original article (in spanish) at:

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    UK Demonstrations?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 06:48 PM EDT
    For the last vote there were demonstrations planned. I can't seem to find any
    details this time around.

    Is any thing planned in the UK prior to the vote? I'd like to attend/voice my

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Two pictures and some notes from forum with Gregory Blepp in Munich
    Authored by: bonzai on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 09:20 PM EDT
    As reported here on Groklaw, Gregory Blepp would participate in a panel discussion in Munich on May 12th. On the site of FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) you can see some pictures of a demonstration in Munich on May 12 against software patents but also 2 pictures and some notes (only in German) from that panel discussion.

    I wasn't there but from the notes (usually only keywords or short phrases; hardly any quotes) I got the feeling that Blepp didn't make any special statements. Unlike the discus sion forum on April 1st in Freiburg where Blepp insisted he was only representing dmmv, in this panel discussion he was both representing both dmmv/VSI and SCO. So this time the members of the public could also asked questions about the SCO vs. Linux/FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) case. But the major issue of the discussion was software patents and related developments in Europe which of course also have to do with FOSS.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Translation of the letter to the French President
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, May 13 2004 @ 10:40 PM EDT
    Translation of the letter addressed to the President of the French Republic

    Mr. President of the Republic,

    We manage French independant software companies.

    We wish to inform you about our very sharp concern regarding the position of
    the French government representative at the last COREPER meeting on software
    patentability. If the text proposed by the Irish presidency on software patent
    were adopted, an extension of patent to all the sectors of the software and
    immaterial services could not be avoided. Such an extension would destroy many
    jobs with added value in France, would reinforce the vassalisation of Europe in
    the domain of software technologies and would support the anti-competing

    During the 2002 presidential campaign, you affirmed that the European draft
    Directive on the software patentability is not acceptable (...) because it
    increases the risk of the vassalisation of Europe in the domain of software
    technologies .

    However the representative of the French government took position, on May 5,
    2004 at the COREPER, in favor of the draft Directive presented by Ireland, which
    takes back the already unbalanced European Commission directive project, and
    reinforces some imbalances. The project of the Irish presidency, sponsored by
    the company Microsoft, expects that claims on software will be accepted in
    patents, something that the draft prepared by the European Commission did not
    even provide. The project presented by Ireland, a country which exonerates the
    American software editors in Europe of corporate taxes on patents incomes, does
    not retain any of the amendments voted by the European Parliament, although
    these amendments aimed at preserving the software sector from the anti-competing
    drifts in the American way.

    As you affirmed with accuracy in 2002, the software patentability cannot be
    adapted at the European level (...) because a software is a complex object which
    gathers thousands of elementary ideas, and it is very difficult to be sure that
    each of them has not been already used, (...) because we must avoid for Europe a
    system of patent in the American fashion, (...) in which the small companies,
    laking financial means, cannot defend themselves against the big ones. You
    concluded that the system suggested by the Commission involves thus strong risks
    of innovation brakes.

    As software publishers and also as heads of French and European companies,
    we entirely approve the point of view you expressed in 2002. We do not
    understand that the representative of the French government supported a text the
    effect of which on the limitation of innovation is not only certain but also
    devastator in terms of employment. Our companies, which create jobs and research
    centers in France, would see their economic equilibrium seriously threatened in
    case of adoption of the text that the French government representative supported
    on May 5, 2004.

    We would be very grateful to you if you agree to ask the French government
    to adopt, May 17 and 18 at the meeting of the Council of European Ministers, a
    position consistent with the one you have always defended.

    Please accept, Mr. President, the homage of our deep respect,

    Jacques Marois (President Mandrakesoft)
    Jean-Paul Smets (Directing Nexedi)
    Stéfane Fermigier (Directing Nuxeo)
    Olivier Guilbert (Chairman IdealX)
    David Sapiro (Directing Systems Pile)
    Rodolphe Quiédeville (President Lolix SA)
    Jean-Marc Boursot (Directing Ankeo)
    Herve Eychenne (Directing KDX Engineering)
    Frederic De Zorzi (Directing PimenTech)
    Thomas Bibard (Directing Neblion)
    Bruno Berthelet, Didier Moiselet and Stéphane Plichon (Hasgard Directors)
    Pascal Desroche (Directing Arkam)
    Herve Eychenne (Directing technique KDX Engineering)
    Gilles Polart-Donat (Directing Alixen)
    Michel Verdier (Directing Thalix)
    Nicolas Chauvat (Chairman Logilab)
    Julien Ducros (Joint manager Lost Oasis)
    Pierre-Yves Dillard (Directing Easter-eggs - Network Free-Company)
    Yannick Thébault (Directing Néréide)
    Arnaud Duhamel, Vincent Vignolle (Associated Directors Solinux)
    Antoine, Nicolas and Sebastien Ducoulombier (joint managers of the Durable
    Developments, Network Free-company)
    Laurent Marie (Director Alcove)
    Alexandre Zapolsky (Chairman Linagora - SSLL)
    Marc Verprat (Directing Eikonex)
    Fabrice Wall (Directing Tux-Logic)
    Cédric Pineau (Directing Code Imp)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 14 2004 @ 03:14 AM EDT
    If you are Dutch, you can easily send a protesting email to the minister of
    economic affairs (economische zaken) here:

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Software Industry, Ireland and EU
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, May 14 2004 @ 05:52 AM EDT
    Are these software makers innocent in the Irish President motivations?

    htt p:// (it works better with IE!)


    Ireland and Software in the EU;

    http://www.idaireland .com/industry/software_why.asp

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It's not over till the fat bird sings
    Authored by: rmortimer on Monday, May 17 2004 @ 06:24 PM EDT
    After the Irish do their hatchet job the bill should co back to the European
    parliament (second time).

    It then goes back to the executive then back again to the parliament (third and
    final time).

    If no agreement is found then it goes to the reconciliation and the council of

    The council of ministers is an EU institution where national politicos can make
    legislation with reduced scrutiny and stitch up their own citizens while blaming
    it on Europe (rather like the US state government vs. national government game
    but we are new to it).

    There is a long fight still to go.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    A timely example of patent misuse from Apple
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 18 2004 @ 05:44 AM EDT
    "why don't you all f-f-fade away"

    Eweek reports Apple Inc filed a patent relating to translucent window in November 2003 (see,1759,1594289,00.asp).

    The patent filing can be found here. 'Inventors' are given as Thomas Bondura and Kim Silverman.

    Translucency of windows has been around on the desktop for several years. Dynamically changing with time or user activity is a well understood notion. This seems an excellent example of attempted 'land-grab' by patenting techniques obvious to those working in the field. I expect much prior art exists on developers hard drives but probably not in academic journals etc. If someone would write this patent up in plain english, makes a good example why Europe (and USA) should take care.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    German Politician Says Germany Will Vote Against Software Patents; IT Leaders in France Ask Chir
    Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, May 18 2004 @ 05:00 PM EDT
    Of course as we now know, the entire thing was passed and Germany voted with "Yes". I feel disgusted. Yes, there were some ammendments and changes. But the justice department still lied to me, a citizen. I haven't been too vocal about the issue now, except for one (email) letter to the German DOJ; expect me to raise a whole lot of noise about this.

    I guess democracy really means "hate your politicans and shout at them as loud as you can if you don't have coffers full of cash".

    - Nils

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Software Patents - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, May 19 2004 @ 01:14 PM EDT
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