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Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 07:23 PM EST

Poland has tipped the scales by voting against the proposed text agreed to by the EU Council in May. A majority now opposes the current proposal. Those supporting the proposal now lack the votes to pass the proposal as written. NoSoftwarePatents.com has a translation of what the Polish government has posted on its website:

"The Council of Ministers (it means the _polish_ council of ministers, not EU) took position on the project of the directive of the European Parliament and Council about patentability of computer-implemented inventions.

"Because of numerous ambiguity and contradictions respecting the current directive project, Poland cannot support the text which was accepted in the vote of the Council on 18 may 2004.

"Simultenously Poland definetly is for unabigous regulations which would guarantee that computer-implemented inventions would be patentable. But beyond any doubt a computer program or portions thereof will not be patentable."

Heise has it in German. The Inquirer has it in English.

In a joint press release from FFII, NoSoftwarePatents.com, and Internet Society Poland, we learn that shining the light on FUD does help:

"The Polish government explained that it would 'definitely' support 'unambiguous regulations' but not a directive under which the functionality of computer programs could be patented.The EU Commission and various governments of other EU member countries claimed that the legislative proposal would not allow for the patentability of programs that run on an average personal computer. However, at a meeting hosted by the Polish government on the 5th of this month, everyone including representatives of the Polish Patent Office, SUN, Novell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, as well as various patent lawyers, confirmed that the present proposal of the EU Council does make all software potentially patentable."

Here is the joint press release.

*****************************

FFII, Internet Society Poland and NoSoftwarePatents.com

Joint Press Release

Poland Does Not Support Current Proposal for EU Software Patent Directive

Official statement on government website after cabinet meeting: "Poland cannot support the text which was agreed upon by the EU Council" - Political agreement of May 18th on a proposed directive can no longer be formally adopted as the common position of the EU Council

Warsaw, 17 November 2004. Subsequently to a cabinet meeting, the Polish government officially declared yesterday evening that "Poland cannot support the text that was agreed upon by the EU Council on May 18th, 2004" as a proposal for a "directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions". Consequently, the EU Council is unable to formally adopt that legislative proposal as its common position. Without the support of Poland, those countries that supported the proposal in May now fall short of a qualified majority by 16 votes. New voting weights took effect in the EU on the 1st of this month.

After extensive consultations with organizations of IT professionals and the Polish Patent Office, the Polish cabinet concluded that the proposal at hand does not achieve the stated goals of limiting patents on software and business methods in Europe. The Polish government explained that it would "definitely" support "unambiguous regulations" but not a directive under which the functionality of computer programs could be patented. The EU Commission and various governments of other EU member countries claimed that the legislative proposal would not allow for the patentability of programs that run on an average personal computer. However, at a meeting hosted by the Polish government on the 5th of this month, everyone including representatives of the Polish Patent Office, SUN, Novell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, as well as various patent lawyers, confirmed that the present proposal of the EU Council does make all software potentially patentable.

Last week, the permanent representative of the Netherlands to the European Union had declared that the Council, which is currently under a Dutch presidency, would aim to refer its common position on the software patent directive to the European Parliament in mid December. The EU Council will now have to renegotiate the legislative proposal instead of being able to formally ratify the invalidated political agreement of May 18th. The formal ratification had been delayed, officially due to a shortage of translation resources.

Jan Macek of FFII Poland said: "Countries such as Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark and Italy had called for changes similar to the amendments made by the European Parliament, but those were rejected by the then-Irish presidency. They now have a chance to propose their amendments again, with support from Poland. That will help bring the directive more in line with the European Parliament which took the position of clearly disallowing software and business method patents."

Wladyslaw Majewski, president of the Internet Society of Poland, emphasized the economic and societal implications of software patents: "The questionnable compromise that the EU Council reached in May was the biggest threat ever to our economic growth, and to our freedom of communication. The desire of the patent system and the patent departments of certain large corporations must never prevail over the interests of the economy and society at large."

The political agreement of the EU Council had been under heavy criticism ever since it was announced on May 18th. Politicians from all parts of the democratic spectrum, small and medium-sized enterprises, software developers and economists called on the EU Council to reconsider its position. Deutsche Bank Research and PriceWaterhouseCoopers had expressly warned of the negative consequences to European IT companies, to innovation, and to the ability of the EU to achieve the goals set out in its Lisbon Agenda. On July 1st, the Dutch parliament passed a resolution that its government change the position of the Netherlands from support to an abstention. On October 21st, all four groups in the German parliament spoke out against software patents and the legislative proposal in question, and introduced different motions to that effect.

References

The aforementioned statement by the Polish government is available on a government website:

http://www.kprm.gov.pl/441_12649.htm

An overview of the old and the new set of voting weights in the EU Council was published earlier by the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign:

http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=97 (press release)
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/docs/041101qm.pdf (overview and analysis)

About the Foundation for a Free Information Infastructure (FFII)

The FFII is the leading non-governmental organization that opposes the patentability of software. It has been mandated by tens of thousands of individuals, among them an estimated 3,000 CEOs of companies, to represent their interests in the political process on an EU software patent directive. For more information, please check out http://en.eu.ffii.org/
The website of the Polish representation of FFII: http://www.ffii.org.pl/

About Internet Society (ISOC) Poland

For information on ISOC Poland, please check out this Web page:
http://www.isoc.org.pl/

About NoSoftwarePatents.com

For information on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is independent from FFII, please check out this Web page:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/about/index.html


  


Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed | 163 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here Please
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 07:42 PM EST
.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: Off-Topic Posts Here please
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 07:43 PM EST
.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
Authored by: Leonscape on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 07:56 PM EST
This is great news, and well done to the people in Poland
that made this happen. You just made every EU programmers
life easier.

The threat has been hanging in the air to long. I doubt
we've seen the last of the patent attempts, but this round
goes to the good guys...

---
"If you give someone a program, you will frustrate them for a day; if you
teach them how to program, you will frustrate them for a lifetime."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents
Authored by: WojtekPod on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 07:57 PM EST
But beyond any doubt a computer program or portions thereof will not be patentable.

That's good to hear. No Polish company would benefit from the software patents, and many would lose.

There are 2 Polish Linux distributions I know of that would be hurt: PLD and Aurox. Plus, there are countless users of free (both as in beer and as in freedom) software that would be in a great trouble if SW patents would pass.

I have a relative working in a court and I know that Polish civil court are already flooded with other cases. Software patent infridgement cases would be a completely needless burden on the shoulders of Polish courts. And a complete waste of public money.

Because nowadays it's ridiculously easy to infringe somebody's software patents.


Just my .02 gr (Polish version of cents)
Wojciech Podgórni

[ Reply to This | # ]

I hope I got this right!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 08:30 PM EST
If I'm following this correctly, the EU has just shot down software patents and
it's back to the drawing board as to if/how they will deal with patents.

If I'm missing something, please enlighten.

Ray08-having login troubles.

[ Reply to This | # ]

And once again, the E.U. makes the classic mistake
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 08:33 PM EST
They forgot Poland

[ Reply to This | # ]

Somebody parse this text for me
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 08:39 PM EST
"Simultenously Poland definetly is for unabigous regulations which would guarantee that computer-implemented inventions would be patentable. But beyond any doubt a computer program or portions thereof will not be patentable."

They're saying that computer hardware should be patentable, but not software?

If so, and if this kind of thinking becomes prevalent in the EU, that would be fantastic, especially for the European software industry. While Sun and MS and the Government-granted-monopoly cartel Intellectual Ventures is developing into reduce the U.S. software market to a few dinosaurs free from outside competition, Europe will be free to allow small business to actually participate in the software market and innovate and progress technology and all that other neat stuff..

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
Authored by: Woad_Warrior on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 08:45 PM EST
Lucky Europe. :-) Now, if only we could get the U.S. legislatures out of the
corporate backpocket, and make changes here.
I know, wishfull thinking, but hey, a guy can dream. Can't he?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 09:09 PM EST
The real issue is that they want to be able to use patented "quarter in the
corner of round room" technology without paying royalties...

[ Reply to This | # ]

    I laugh
    Authored by: Latesigner on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:25 PM EST
    I also gloat.
    Now if someone can get that through certain thick (bought?) skulls on this side
    of the Atlantic.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: teknomage1 on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 10:26 PM EST
    Hey everybody, I managed to line up a meeting with some concerned gov't
    officials in the country of Singapore which is considering much more stringent
    IP laws including software patents and I was wondering if you nice folks have
    any advice for what I should include in my speech and what the best references
    to give them for further inquiry with the caveat that these are obviously
    extremely busy people.
    My major issue is probably an initial lack of credibility as I'm just an
    American college student and was only able to get this meeting through the help
    of family friends. As I get closer to my meeting I'll post my final outline of
    my speech here for scrutiny. Thanks in Advance.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 17 2004 @ 11:20 PM EST

    Fabulous news. I admire Poles for having the conviction to stand up against such
    obvious land grab. Thank you for having the guts to stop this software patent
    madness.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 12:00 AM EST
    The polish people have a rather large group of open source programmers, and very
    good ones at that.
    Good hackers to. Bravo
    So much for euro_trash.

    Patents stifle innovation


    Congrats PJ

    :)/:) The reason I like this blog is PJ makes me think before I post.
    Thank You

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 12:57 AM EST
    It's great that Poland is rejecting sw patents. But we have to ratchet up the
    pressure so that Poland's decision represents a decisive turning of the tide in
    our favor rather than just a temporary setback inflicted on the opposition. A
    strong, unified EU stance in active alliance with the Asian tigers on this issue
    will do wonders on the USPTO's bureaucratic attitude.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: blacklight on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 01:03 AM EST
    I believe that the strategy of the sw patent sponsors is to give the minimum
    number of concessions necessary to bring about a bare majority of support among
    the EU for sw patents. I liken the sw patents sponsors to a malevolent genie who
    will promise anything just to get out of the bottle knowing that once the bottle
    cap is opened, all bets are off.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Software patents and education
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 01:06 AM EST
    Something I have been wondering for quite a while on the software patent
    thingy...

    So most of the (new) algorithms and some of the old ones, in the US, are
    probably now patented. I wonder... how are we going to teach future generations
    of programmers?

    I imagine Dr Knuth trying to put out a Brand New & Improved edition of the
    marvelous 'The Art of Computer Programming', and being hit left, rigth, and
    center by "pay up or leave it out" letters (since almost anything new
    would be patented).

    Even if we disregard the other arguments, THIS scenario is more than enough to
    make me absolutely against software patents.

    p.s. perhaps this is already happening, and can explain the average low quality
    of current technical books.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    No cause for celebration yet.
    Authored by: eamacnaghten on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 01:58 AM EST
    As far as I understood it at the time Poland never supported Software Patents. At the Council of Ministers meeting in Ireland Poland never got an opportunity to express a view as the "Aye"s had sufficient "majority" to approve this thing before Poland got to express a view. The fact they have come out with a definate "No" now is welcome, and put's my supposedly more advanced government to shame (UK government still seems to be for US style software patents in legislation proposals while trying to reassure us ignoramius's that it is not important, Groklaw has touched on this before).

    It is worth noting though that a large number of Civil Servants and MEPs have been lobied by the likes of Microsoft and others into believing that unless this kind of Software Patents is implemented here (in Europe) then a large number of IT jobs and investment will dissappear from Europe and no new ones introduced. To educate people of the idiocy of this hypothesis is an uphill struggle. Politicians are not interested in this issue. It is not a vote winner or loser and they like to concentrate on issues that are, so for this all they do is ask their "experts" on the issue who seem not to be reachable by the general public (or who simply ignore them) and who have been converted into believing in Software Patents.

    The Pro Software Patent lobby are devious. If they do not succeed one way they will try another to achieve there ends. They continually work at getting access to the civil servants and politicians both at national and European levels to manipulate things their way. Resting on laurals by us over Poland would be silly.

    Once more, my friends, I urge any fellow Europeans to contact their MEP and National Parliament Representative, preferably by letter and certainly not annonymously, to draw attention to the issues of this. Raise software patents up to a level where they care! But remember, when contacting your representatives, be truthful, be polite, be constructive, do not attack anyone (or anything) or give wild accusations, and give emphasis to the cost of Software Patents. The best thing you can (truthfully) say is that you run a Software Business and your profitability and potential to employ people would be greatly adversely affected by Software Patents.

    Web Sig: Eddy Currents

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Help the NoSoftwarePatents.com
    Authored by: Anni on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 02:12 AM EST

    There is a collection of nice web-site banners and logos in this page to advertise the cause in your own web-site. I think I'm planting one on mine, if my university doesn't object.

    More about helping them can be found here.



    Anni

    ---
    Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds;
    Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Questions for Groklaw Representatives
    Authored by: Morosoph on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 08:34 AM EST
    Or rather for those at the UK meeting:

    Is the British government aware that the overwhelming weight of economic orthodoxy is that software patents are harmful?

    Also, is the British government aware that the marketplace is changing is the US right now, with pure patent companies buying up patents from dying companies, and a sudden rate of increase of patenting by large companies, notably Microsoft. Why then should the future look like the past?

    How can "Open Source thrives" be sufficient argument without reference to the costs and benefits of the two regimes?

    Software Patents may not have stopped growth in the US, but are likely to have slowed it. The fact that companies hold patent portfolios as a defensive measure tells you something: they expect someone who sues them to have transgressed their own somewhere along the line. Without a patent portfolio of their own, how can a small business deal with this asymetry? How do they expect to find funding?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Hard evidence?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 08:41 AM EST
    www.ez.nl/content.jsp?objectid=24583

    The above link gets you to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report. I was hoping to
    find hard evidence that software patents kill innovation. No such luck. Lots
    of acronyms though. If I were the average European politician, my eyes would
    glaze over.

    The question seems to be one of "whose ox is gored". If you have
    large entrenched software companies, you will like software patents. If you
    don't, you won't.

    I would really like some hard evidence about what patents and copyright do to
    the overall economy.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    • Hard evidence? - Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 06:05 PM EST
    And of course BBC misses the boat
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 08:55 AM EST

    Instead of reporting on this bbc reported on Ballmers BS to the asian Market.

    I know BBC uses vast quantities of OpenSouce materials so why dont some of those boys go and kick some sense (And information) into the editorial teams heads?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    It Ain't Over Yet
    Authored by: Prototrm on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 09:25 AM EST
    Does anyone really think this fight is over? The Bush Administration will do its
    best to threaten the EU into complience with US Patent laws. I'd like to think
    this is the beginning of the end for software patents, but life doesn't have
    Happy Endings [patent pending].

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Interesting reason to avoid using OSS...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 11:04 AM EST

    I saw the following snippet of an interview while reading another article:

    ``However, in an online interview, Dr Karl-Heinz Strassemeyer, a distinguished engineer from IBM Germany, explained why his team abandoned the idea of using Linux in a product. "We didn't want to do a distribution, because we didn't want a patent infringement being detected. If somebody would have taken us to court we might have had to stop shipping our product," he says.''

    (Quoted in http://www. guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,1353190,00.html, original interview is (apparently) here.)

    I 'm not sure if it was his intent, but it seemed to me as though he was saying that you should avoid using OSS if you want your patent violations to remain undetected. This bothers me a bit since this fellow is (cringe) from IBM.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Poland Rejects Proposed EU Software Patents - Majority Now Opposed
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 11:22 AM EST
    Great news!

    Someone should post submit it as a newsarticle on slashdot
    asap! (someone other than me, due to my poor english) :)

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    who voted already and how
    Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 18 2004 @ 12:38 PM EST
    Is it possible to know who voted already, how they voted, can they change?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Perhaps bad news
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 21 2004 @ 07:11 AM EST
    There seem to be several confusions here.

    First of all: The current situation is not desirable. The
    European Patent Office has no clear guideline on what to
    patent, so they make their own. These are actually in
    favor of software patents. The courts will have to decide
    - quite difficult, because there currently is no
    guideline. To make this clear: While some member states
    have rules that pretty clearly rule out software patents,
    the EU has no rule at all - neither yes or no, and the EPO
    is accepting software patents on the basis that they might
    one day be law. Currently, it's up to the courts to decide
    on a case-by-case basis.


    Regarding the current fight:
    One thing to keep in mind is that the European Parliament
    is in a power struggle with the council. Historically, the
    parliament only had the right to be heard, today, they
    have more power, and it will be extremely hard to get
    anything as big as this passed against the will of the EP.
    Also keep in mind that the EP seems to have picked
    software patents as their fighting ground to get more
    power form the Council - good thing, since they are
    opposed to software patents. So expect relentless fighting
    from their part. Especially to Americans goes the reminder
    that the patenting process in Europe is different from the
    American one and it is, in general, much harder to get a
    patent granted.

    To clarify: The European Parliament is opposed to the
    proposal, and the Council seems to be now, too. This means
    that the current proposal has no hope of passing - so it
    will probably not be voted upon. The current presidency
    (Netherlands) has three options.

    1. Try to alter the proposal to a point where it is
    palatable to the Council, get it passed by the Parliament,
    and then by the council. This way promises fastest
    results, but may be difficult to go as the Parliament has
    proven itself quite unruly on that issue.
    2. Restart from scratch. Has more chances of success than
    (1), but will at least take another two years.
    3. Declare the entire thing a failure.

    To summarize: The current situation - no rules at all - is
    favorable, in my opinion, to the proposal that now seems
    to be shot down. However, this is not a situation that
    should continue, and I hope for clear and sane rules in
    the near future (which, in EU terms, means "within the
    next two years", but then, I'm an optimist).

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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