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Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:26 AM EST

This just in. Poland refused to go along with the software patent rubber stamp:

"The Software Patent Directive has been withdrawn from the Agenda of the Agricultural Council. Poland's minister Marcinski requested it firmly at the beginning of the meeting. The Commissioner expressed regret, but the A-item has been deleted and will not be decided this year."

For some insight into the process, and some suggestions for going forward, you might enjoy reading Simon Phipps' commentary.

Here is the press release from NoSoftwarePatents:

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

BIG SURPRISE IN BRUSSELS:
EU COUNCIL TAKES SOFTWARE PATENT DIRECTIVE OFF ITS AGENDA
DURING TODAY'S MEETING, ACCOMODATING A REQUEST BY POLAND

Undersecretary Wlodzimierz Marcinski asks for additional time to prepare a "constructive declaration" -- Software patent debate is wide open-- Software patent critics: "The Polish government deserves greatest admiration for its courage!"

Brussels (21 December 2004). In a totally unexpected turn of events, the EU Council took its proposal for a software patent directive off its agenda during today's meeting. Actually the item had been slated for debateless approval as a so-called "A" item. Polish undersecretary Wlodzimierz Marcinski asked for additional time in order to be able to write up a "constructive declaration". The meeting chairman accomodated the request since no country raised objections. The EU Commission expressed its regrets but also accepted this decision.

After the political positions of several countries had changed, the proposal had no more qualified majority, but the Council wanted to decide on the basis of a majority that existed on May 18th. Florian Mueller, campaign manager of NoSoftwarePatents.com, commented: "The Polish government deserves greatest admiration for its courage! At times it looked like the enemies of democracy would prevail in the EU Council and force a decision that lacked a legitimate majority. Now Europe has the opportunity to have a constructive debate on the severe shortcomings of the current Council text, under the new Luxembourgish EU presidency next year. Even at Christmas time, Europe has nothing to give away -- and particularly we can't give our domestic software markets away to a few large U.S. corporations that prefer a litigious environment over a competitive market!"

Council Lost Qualified Majority, Wanted to Formalize Decision Regardless

On December 7th, Belgian minister of economic affairs Marc Verwilghen had told the Belgian parliament that the "the qualified majority [for software patents] no longer exists". The Dutch parliament had passed a resolution on July 1st, asking its government to abstain, but the Dutch government decided to ignore the will of its parliament. The Polish government reiterated on November 16th that it "cannot support the current proposal" but was pressured by the Dutch EU presidency and other countries to support the decision. At times it looked like Poland would give in to that pressure.

Austrian conservative MEP Othmar Karas, vice president of the largest group in the European Parliament (EPP-ED), had warned: "It would be downright anti-democratic to adopt a proposal that has no more qualified majority on the day of the official decision."

Several countries, including France, Hungary, Poland, Latvia and the Netherlands, want to add statements to the Council's decision by which they would distance themselves from the very position they voted for.

In a previous statement on www.NoSoftwarePatents.com, Linus Torvalds and other European software developers had already denounced the Council's current proposal as "deceptive, dangerous, and democratically illegitimate".

Last-Minute Political and Diplomatic Activity

In a flurry of last-minute activity, a small demonstration had taken place outside of a German government building in Berlin. The mayor of Munich yesterday contacted the German federal government and asked to reopen the negotiations in the EU Council on the software patent directive. The city of Munich had temporarily suspended its Linux migration project in the summer over patent-related concerns. On November 18th, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had warned Asian governments that they would face patent litigation if using the Linux operating system instead of Microsoft's Windows product.

About the NoSoftwarePatents.com Campaign

The NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign was launched on October 20th in initially 12 languages and is supported by three IT companies (1&1, Red Hat, and MySQL AB). More information on the campaign is available on the campaign Web site.


  


Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year | 146 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Agricultural Council?
Authored by: rmorrish on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:33 AM EST
I think other countries should let their Ag Councils decide these matters.
Anyone who's been on the receiving end of a Monsanto patent is probably well
equipped to see how patents should not be applied to software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: raynfala on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:33 AM EST
Goes here...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Thank you Poland !
Authored by: archivist on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:38 AM EST
Welcome to the EEC and its bad habits.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:38 AM EST
I was of the opinion that there were a lot of countries opposed to this but that
they wouldn't have the necessary clout to stop it from being rammed through .
Well I guess one lone voice can be heard!


"Well let them eat Windows!"- Marie Antoinette, Queen of
France(retired)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: eggplant37 on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:39 AM EST
This makes me sorry for every bad joke I've ever told about the Polish people.

Good job.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: fmckee on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:46 AM EST
Thanks for the update!!! I was looking for one this morning. I am pleased (for
now) with the outcome.

The methods some in the U.K. used to try and push this through, at best, would
have been challenged later. All the while, the issue would make great FUD for
anti-FOSS interests. Not to mention it is far easier to block bad laws from
becoming so, than it is to reverse them later.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: Brian S. on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 10:48 AM EST
This is great news. The Council knows it's got a problem. There is no way for this to be backdoored or bulldozed through into legislation. Just keep up the pressure on the MEPs and watch for devious Council moves, or have they got the message.

The Council keep saying it's this patent legislation or "nothing". I can't see why that should be so. 90% is probably non-contentious. Surely, that part can be read as taken, while software patents and one or two other contentious areas are revisited to ensure they comply with the wishes of EU citizens and businesses.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pole have always been courageous.
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 11:20 AM EST
I have always admired the Pole for their courage and honor, since I first
learned about Count Pulaski.

This is the latest proof.

I'm sure the Germans and French will give them a hard time over this.

---
Rsteinmetz

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lets hope that French and German Linux usage helps
Authored by: TiddlyPom on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 11:29 AM EST
With the Linux rollout in France (also here) and Germany, lets hope that there is realisation in the EU that software patents would significantly reduce choice.

I guess what we really need is a Linux advert in the UK (and other parts of the EU) similar to the Mozilla advert in the New York Times. A useful addition would be a free Live-CD of some kind to get Joe Public to realise that there is actually an alternative to having Windows on a PC and that open source software is a good thing (whereas software patents are not).

---
"There is no spoon?"
"Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Well done, Poland! One battle so far....
Authored by: tiger99 on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 11:32 AM EST
And well done PJ! As usual, Groklaw was one of the first, possibly the first, to publish the news. That is what I call journalism!

Now there should be a little breathing space to get this matter very firmly on the agenda, via the proper channels, in time for subsequent battles which will likely become ever more vicious. I suggest a major letter and email campaign to your democratically elected representatives in both your National and European parliaments, if you are an EC citizen of course. US citizens will have a good case to make once the battle has been won in Europe.

I would imagine that a number of competent organisers will be setting up campaign websites, in addition to those which already exist. Good luck to them all.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Well, they did it again.. bravo Poland !
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 11:37 AM EST
from : http://kwiki.ffii.org/Cons041221En

“Fortunately, everyone forgot Poland. Today, Poland saved European democracy (
http://k.lenz.name/LB/archives/000969.html ) and did a tremendous service to
the European IT-sector. Thanks to them, the will of the Dutch and German
national parliaments can be respected in a future vote. The losers today are not
the proponents of software patents. Today, everyone won, except for those who
did everything in their power to push through this outdated agreement.”

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland...
Authored by: Latesigner on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 11:39 AM EST
kept the EU from following the USA's bad example.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yesterday, I was tempted to say...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:00 PM EST
"So long, and thanks for all the fish" (message from the programmers
to the fisheries council as software development moves elsewhere to find a sane
legal climate).

Today, instead, I say, "Bravo, Poland!".

This moment brought to you by the same people who brought you Lech Walesa...

MSS

[ Reply to This | # ]

letter of thanks to the polish minister
Authored by: chrism on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:07 PM EST
I would love to sign my name to a letter of thanks to Poland and her minister if
someone could start a web-based system to collect signatures.

Good show Poland!

Chris Marshall

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:09 PM EST
I have one thing to say:

Dziekuja Polska

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conspiracy!
Authored by: nb on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:17 PM EST
It is very clear now that there was a conspiracy in Brussels that tried to push
this pro-patents directive through by means of totally illegitmate methods. Is
there any chance of this kind of conspiracy getting investigated by the police,
and the guilty people being punished?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Conspiracy! - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:41 PM EST
  • Conspiracy! - Authored by: John Hasler on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 01:28 PM EST
  • And... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 02:11 PM EST
  • No. - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 03:59 PM EST
Government vs. Parliament?
Authored by: rao on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 12:54 PM EST
...but the Dutch government decide to ignore the will of its parliament.

There have been other threads trying to explain the structure of the EU. I have read several of them and I still don't understand. Without getting into another long explanation of the whole thing, can anybody explain the distinction made in the quote above between the government and the parliament? Is this implying that the parliament is not part of the government?

[ Reply to This | # ]

One thing has me scratching my head...
Authored by: Jude on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 01:48 PM EST
Supposedly, it was large companies threatening to oursource jobs that persuaded
the European Council to assume a pro-patent stance. This suggests that the EC
thinks it's bad for their countries to lose jobs to overseas competition.

Yet amazingly, whenever I talk to my congresscritter's staff here in the U.S.,
they tell me that sending jobs overseas is just *wonderful* for the well-being
of the U.S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A tipping point, perhaps?
Authored by: psherma1 on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 02:08 PM EST
...with continued adoption of Open Source and time to review what's been going
on politically, there is reason to be quite optimistic that patents on software
may never get pushed through in Europe.
This may be the FOSS "shot heard around the world" -- for I do not
believe current US software patent laws will stand for long as they are, if they
are in isolation. By putting their foot down the Poles may have done something
very big.

Polish joke of the day...
How many countries' dissent does it take to stop the EU legislation?

The jokes is on us analytical types, it seems.

Weselych Swiat
(Merry Christmas)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Real heroes
Authored by: Azriel on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 03:53 PM EST
Must say that for a first time in quite a while, I am very proud to be Polish.

Real thanks should go to the crew responsible for 7thguard portal
(http://7thguard.net) and Polish branch of FFII (http://ffii.org.pl). These are
the real heroes. If not for their persistent efforts, Wlodzimierz Marcinski
would never have considered sitting at the Agriculture meeting to begin with. As
I heard he had arrived in place five minutes before the crucial meeting !

The EU patent lobby has pulled virtually every dirty trick in the book, to get
this passed in the current form or not at all. From outright lies to avoiding
the vote so that Dutch and Germans don't have to take their parliaments' will
into account, heavy pressure on our own diplomats in Brussels, misleading
information about the Council procedures painting the 'political agreement' as
set in stone....

There are however few things which are especially important for us EUropeans
right now, because the delay is not a definitive win:
- to thank everyone already involved in opposing the current version of the
Directive,
- to keep up the pressure on the members of our respective governments
(especially Polish, German, Dutch),
- to lobby as many MEPs, as we can to support motion of 65 MEPs to push the
legislation back to first phase (1st reading in the Parliament),
- long-term, to get open source into as many firms and institutions as possible
so that the subject matter directly influences people's perception of their own
welfare

Grzegorz Marcin Koczyk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bravo Poland!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 04:13 PM EST
I just decided to spend my next long-weekend break visiting Poland ...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: NemesisNL on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 04:54 PM EST
A sigh of relieve. Rescued by my european brothers from Poland. So for the time
being a life of shame has been avoided. No thanks to my countrymen who tried to
push this through knowing full well our parliament was against it. This would
not just have been undemocratic for the EU but also specifically for the
Netherlands where a government is ignoring the democratic proces.

Sometimes being Dutch is nothing to be proud of. Luckely most of the time it is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: blacklight on Tuesday, December 21 2004 @ 05:44 PM EST
Poland did us a huge favor by stepping int to the breach. Now, we have to do our
part: making sure that Poland is safe from retaliation from the same forces that
were devious and unethical enough to make an end run around the EU's democratic
process - If they are devious and unethical, they may also be quite vindictive
and treacherous. I for one will keep a close eye on what my own US government is
going to do next.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: moosie on Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 01:05 AM EST
Don't care where it came from or who, but "The Polish government deserves
greatest admiration for its courage!"

Yay Poland for having the determination to do what's right! We all thank you!

- Moosie.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How about this for an idea?
Authored by: AndyC on Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 03:29 AM EST
See here for an idea on international patents.

And here for a link to say thank you to Poland.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Poland Comes Through! - Software Patents Off the Agenda This Year
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 10:26 AM EST
While this is good news, it is by no means the end. Poland is one of the poorer
and newer members of the EU. As such they get a raw deal in comparison with
some of the more mature members.

It may be that Poland will be offered some concessions elsewhere that will
"pursuade" them that software patents are OK.

Having said that, the cat is among the pidgins: Software Patents are officially
"controversial" at a political level. This will help other countries
water-down the proposals, and if the directive does get passed (eventually it
probably will) the courts will take this into account.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The last government like this...
Authored by: burlap on Wednesday, December 22 2004 @ 03:57 PM EST
When you take a look at the political situation in Poland (being Polish living
in Poland I have this doubtful privilege to be up to date) it is impossible to
imagine the success of Polish external politics (consider also Ukraine and
Polish efforts there).

As Polish parliament is one of the most ignorant and pathetic parliaments in the
EU (and I am sure not many parliaments in the world can match its stupidity),
ruling left-wing majority is falling apart, drowned in corruption scandals,
right-wing and center float more and more towards populism (elections coming
next year), we have one of the best governments since 1989 (the end of communist
regime). It consists of more professionals than politicians (kind of
"technocratic" government). The problem is that it will stay at most
until autumn 2005...

[ Reply to This | # ]

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