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JURI Votes: It's Restart
Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 04:23 PM EST

It's true. JURI has voted to restart the procedure regarding software patents. From scratch. I heard it first from an email, and now Heise has it up online. Here is the FFII press release. Jan Wildeboer tells me that by invoking Rule 55 of the Rules of Parliament, JURI is now asking for a completely new directive. He says the proposed directive on so-called "computer-implemented inventions" was under heavy fire from the beginning of the intense meeting. By throwing away almost all amendments of the Parliament, the Council tried to push through a "compromise" that was not ultimately accepted, making a restart the only viable way left. So, says Jan, the proposed directive is /dev/null.

"A fresh start will open the doors for constructive definitions of scope and exclusions from patentability", says Hartmut Pilch, founder and president of FFII, "We will now see rational arguments in this discussion and we are ready to bring in our experience and knowledge".

Here's an enjoyable computer translation of the Heise story:

The co-ordinators of the responsible legal committee of the European Union parliament approximately set today around the planned guideline over the patenting bar of "computer-implemented inventions" the switches to evening in the procedure seriously to restart. "we decided practically unanimously with only two abstentions that our president explained at the commission a Rekonsultation requested", to SPE Koordinatorin Maria Berger after the approximately three-hour session opposite heise on-line. As soon as parliament president Josep Borrell Fontelles follows that urge of the legal committee, the commission is requested to deal with itself again with the guideline. Concretely the commission is to send their original guideline suggestion either still once to the European Union parliament or submit a new.

I say hear, hear. The Commission is requested to deal with itself again. Of course, that's the hard part.

Here it is in German, so some of you can help us out with a translation that doesn't make us laugh. Not that I don't feel like laughing. I surely do:

Die Koordinatoren des federführenden Rechtsausschusses des EU-Parlaments haben heute Abend im Verfahren rund um die geplante Richtlinie über die Patentierbarkeit "computerimplementierter Erfindungen" die Weichen nachdrücklich auf Neustart gestellt. "Wir haben praktisch einstimmig mit nur zwei Enthaltungen beschlossen, dass unser Präsident bei der Kommission eine Rekonsultation beantragt", erklärte SPE-Koordinatorin Maria Berger nach der rund dreistündigen Sitzung gegenüber heise online. Sobald Parlamentspräsident Josep Borrell Fontelles dem Drängen des Rechtsausschusses nachkommt, ist die Kommission aufgefordert, sich erneut mit der Richtlinie zu befassen. Konkret soll die Kommission ihren ursprünglichen Richtlinienvorschlag entweder noch einmal an das EU-Parlament übersenden oder einen neuen vorlegen.


Here is a reader's translation:

The co-ordinators of the responsible committee of legal affairs of the EU parliament pointed the way for a restart of the proceedings concerning the directive of "computer-implemented inventions" this evening. "We decided more or less unanimously, with only two abstentions, that our president [i.e. President of the EP] will move for a new conferral", SPE-coordinator Maria Berger told heise online after the conference which had lasted three hours. As soon as President Joseb Borell complies with the urging of the committee, the Commission is exhorted to deal with the directive again. Specifically, the Commission is expected to send the draft to the EP once again or to present a new one.

Here is the FFII press release in full:


European Parliament JURI Committee votes for restart with massive majority

Brussels, 2 February 2005 - The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) has decided with a large majority to ask the Commission for a renewed referral of the software patents directive. With only two or three votes against and one abstention, the resolution had overwhelming support from the committee, and all-party backing.

The decision is a powerful statement from MEPs that the current Council text, and the logjam of concern it has caused, is simply not a sustainable way forward. It is now up to the Commission to submit a new, or the same, proposal to the Parliament. Parliament will then hold a new first reading, this time under the guidance of Michel Rocard MEP as rapporteur.

The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Charles McCreevy, had in the morning assured the JURI Committee that the Council would finally adopt its beleaguered Common Position text. He announced that "the Luxembourg Presidency has now received written assurances concerning the re-instatement of this issue as an A point at a forthcoming Council". Given that A points are to be adopted without discussion, this left no possibilities for renewed negotiations in the Council. Consequently, the Parliament apparently decided that a restart was the best solution.

Michel Rocard MEP gave a very strong speech at the meeting with the Commissioner. Apart from noting several "inelegancies" by the Commission, such as not taking into account any of the Parliament's substantive amendments in its recommendation to the Council, he also took issue with the Dutch and German governments ignoring their respective parliaments, the Irish Presidency's sponsorship by Microsoft and the attempted ratifications of the political (dis)agreement at several fishery Council meetings.

He mentioned that at a meeting with the Polish government, the industry players confirmed that the Council text allowed pure software patents, and wondered how the Commission could continue claiming the reverse. He was also curious about how the Commission's perfectly tautological definition of the concept "technical" could help in any way to distinguish between what is patentable and what is not. Despite his own abstention when voting on the restart later that day, the fact that almost everyone else supported it is probably his personal achievement.

The Commissioner made clear that "any agreement will need to strike a fair balance between different interests", and that "a constructive dialogue between the Council and Parliament will be vital for an agreement". He does have the option to deny a new first reading. But given the strength of feeling in the Parliament and the concerns of so many member states in the Council, the Parliament request looks like the best way to achieve a clean way forward for this Directive that everyone has been looking for.


Jonas Maebe, board member of FFII:

The Commissioner can jumpstart the constructive dialogue by submitting a new and more balanced proposal to the European Parliament this time. By taking into account the countless new facts that have surfaced since the start of this procedure in 2002, the Commission has a great opportunity to give the Lisbon strategy the incentives it needs to succeed.

Dieter Van Uytvanck, president FFII Belgium:

We owe this victory for democracy to the members of the European parliament. Today they have shown once again that they really care about the concerns of the European citizens. And of course we would like to thank those as well. I'm sure that without their impressive support for an innovative climate that is freed of software patents, this step would not have been possible.


JURI Votes: It's Restart | 188 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: IRJustman on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 04:46 PM EST
So PJ can find 'em.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: IRJustman on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 04:47 PM EST
Off-topic linkage here. You know the drill, make 'em clickable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The beginning of the end?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 04:56 PM EST
So, now the thing starts over. But this time, the EU-parliament with its new members is even more anti-SW-patents. So I don't think they are going to push for anything less than what they did in their amendments to the last proposal from the Comission (subsequently ignored in their 'compromise proposal' which was now rejected).

The people on the pro-sw-patent side said back then, (although I can't seem to find the exact quote) that having no patents at all were better than the amended version. Given that the Commission's current proposal failed, it's quite clear they can't have that. So maybe it will be 'no patents' indeed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 04:59 PM EST
One step towards sanity. They should abolish all patents, but hey, there must be
a turning-point first. Honour to Poland for their courage!

[ Reply to This | # ]

This may have importance far beyond SW patents
Authored by: eskild on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:04 PM EST
The EU political culture has allways been split threeways - Parliament, Council,
and Commision.

The SW patent case has till now shown that EU parliament used to be a very
junior partner in this, but it may be that the balance are slowly tipping in
favour of the EU Parliament.

We definitely see a EU parliament that are ready to use those powers it have
allready got


[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: El_Heffe on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:04 PM EST
Unfortunately, software patents will eventually become a reality in the EU. It
may take a while, but it *WILL* happen.

The pro-patent people are not going to simply give up and go away. They will
continue to resort to tactics that are even sneakier and more underhanded, until
they are finally successful, no matter how long it takes.

The only thing that will put an end to this issue is the passage of a law
specifically prohibiting software patents.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Franki on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:06 PM EST

I'm not in the EU, but if they can see the problems with it, perhaps there is
hope for all of us.



Is M$ behind Linux attacks?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ballmer is bawling like a baby!
Authored by: clark_kent on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:24 PM EST
Wah! The Monster of Microsoft is in Pain!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:40 PM EST
Thanks to the EU Parliament, Europe will now get another chance to save itself
from the fatal mistake of adopting software patents.

If they stick it out and pass the amended law as it should be, then all European
businesses will benefit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It Ain't Over...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:53 PM EST
...'til it's over.

Now I might be a "Wear my Tin-Foil Hat with Pride" old Cynic [actually, I am], but even the most unaware among our readership must understand what is happening here.

There are important lessons to be learned by every civilised democracy in the world, based on what is happening in Europe today. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them...

One of the most interesting things about the introduction of laws in Europe is the mechanism used to introduce them. Think of it like a choker collar. The kind that only tightens. It works like this...

Certain wealthy companies [those that wish to see software patents introduced] will take every possible legal step [and, we are free to speculate, perhaps others] to convince the EU that software patents are a Good Thing (TM). If they fail in this step, then the wealthy companies simply try again. However, once they succeed in this, there is virtually no chance of ever repealing the law. Why? Because European Law "out-ranks" the laws of member states and therefore cannot be easily set aside. It's a one-way road.The collar only tightens. The amount of effort required to set aside a European law would be orders of magnitude greater than that required to enact it.

What is interesting about this is the way that such tactics are carefully witheld from the populations concerned. For example, in the UK a few years ago, the government decided to introduce a sales tax [we call this Value Added Tax in the UK] on domestic heating fuels [gas, electricity and fuel oil]. This was explained to us as a "budgetary decision" by our London government. In reality, this was done as part of a "European directive" to harmonise taxes across all members states. The alleged reason for this was to produce a more level "playing field" to allow all states in the Union to compete more faily. In reality it was used by some states to introduce new taxes. Note that taxes were only added, never taken away.

Thus it is with this entire sordid affair with software patents. The citizens of the EU countries, having the facts explained to them, would not willingly or voluntarily place their own necks in a noose so that the European software industry would be patented out of existence by wealthy US companies that already hold such a vast arsenal of software patents. It would be economic suicide for the software industry.

The software industry backers know this, which is why the recent attempt to re-submit software patents saw the legislation slipped onto the tail end of a bill that related to farming, or fisheries or some such. But once ratified, we'd be cooked.

The odd thing is that countries in the heart of Europe like Germany, who are propelled by a deep national phobia of Europe-wide war, are pushing so hard to integrate the rest of Europe into a "one big family" super-state that they haven't bothered to stop and see the big picture. Their fear and paranoia are being twisted by a cynical few to trap and exploit the citizens of Europe. Wealthy multinationals seem to be among the most cynical of all.

I'm sure that to many who live outside Europe [and some Europeans] this might seem a little like flame-bait or extremest nonsense. It's not meant to be.

If the democracy we live in makes laws that we cannot repeal, then we don't live in a democracy.

If the democracy we live in makes laws that are written by unelected beaurocrats in Brussels [and which only once drafted are reviewed and voted on by elected representatives], then we don't live in a democracy.

If the democracy we live in is one in which the will of the people can be conveniently ignored when it doesn't match the views of a few in the middle, then we don't live in a democracy.

With only the slightest apology for the frothing nature of this post, I'd urge all groksters to pay very close attention to what's happening in Europe over things like software patents. You can bet that the outcome is being watched very closely from every country in the world. If this can be "pushed" through in a 'democracy' like the EU, you can bet it will be tried elsewhere.

Coming soon to a democracy near you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Any loopholes left?
Authored by: NewAccount on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:55 PM EST
The unfolding of this procedure so far has teached me that for almost all steps
in the good direction, the commission and council have some countermoves. So,
are there any loopholes left for them now?
The article states that JURI voted to have the president of the parliament to
request a restart at the commission. But what if:
1) the president refuses to request a restart? (Can he actuall y refuse?)
2) the current prososal is rubber stamped and announced in parliament before the
president can officially request a restart?
3) the commission ignores the request? (Can they?)

Sorry if I sound a bit sceptical, actually I think this vote is a very positive
result and like to thank everbody who made it possible

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:56 PM EST

This is brilliant; just hope that they return to the first reading

OK. We have not yet started to fight. I ask all Europeans to start lobbying, with polite and educational letters to your MEPs

To affect the future Council, is a function of your national government; make sure that your elected government understand that this is a vote loser.

And I just love the quotes

From Arlene McCarthy, a U.K. Labour Euro-Parliamentarian, who is from my country, and sponsored this act

"Everyone wanted this looked at again," she said.

And from Sir William Gates, of Microsoft

Gates is reported to have replied that it was a European affair

So perhaps he just likes buying free lunches for Europeans

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's Restart
Authored by: icebarron on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 05:59 PM EST
My highest regards to our Euro-contemporaries that stood their ground against
big money/big business. There is proof now that most citizens of the world are
fed up with being spoon fed laws that ultimately cause them harm. I have the
highest respect and admiration for all those individuals that had a part in
putting this to the skids before it got the so called rubber stamp into law....

Yes I am an american, but I am also a citizen of the world. It is starting to
become a little more liveable with each passing day....

Peace to one and all


[ Reply to This | # ]

Translation Items
Authored by: major.tom on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 06:01 PM EST
German isn't my first language, but the way I read it, the "deal with
themselves" is one of those reflexive verbs that isn't reflexive in
English. It's equivalent to saying they'll deal with it themselves.

Also, "Koordinatorin" is just the feminine form of
"Koordinator" (Co-ordinator).


[ Reply to This | # ]

Is this as good as it sounds?
Authored by: dcarrera on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 06:04 PM EST
My understanding is that now we won't have to deal with software patents for at
least another 4 years.

Could someone confirm or deny this?

If so, all I can say is... YYYYEEEEAAAAAAHHH !!!


Daniel Carrera. volunteer.

Make a difference. Join Join OOoAuthors today.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My try at a translation
Authored by: omr on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 06:15 PM EST
Die Koordinatoren des federführenden Rechtsausschusses des EU-Parlaments haben heute Abend im Verfahren rund um die geplante Richtlinie über die Patentierbarkeit "computerimplementierter Erfindungen" die Weichen nachdrücklich auf Neustart gestellt.

Tonight the co-ordinators of the responsible legal committee of the European Union parliament have definitely set the future course for the procedure concerning the planned directive on the patentability of "computer-implemented inventions" to restart.

"Wir haben praktisch einstimmig mit nur zwei Enthaltungen beschlossen, dass unser Präsident bei der Kommission eine Rekonsultation beantragt", erklärte SPE-Koordinatorin Maria Berger nach der rund dreistündigen Sitzung gegenüber heise online.

"We have practically unanimously - with just two abstentions - decided that our president should request a reconsultation at the commission" told Maria Berger, the coordinator of the SPE (Socialist Group in the European Parliament) to heise online after the meeting that kasted for three hours.

Sobald Parlamentspräsident Josep Borrell Fontelles dem Drängen des Rechtsausschusses nachkommt, ist die Kommission aufgefordert, sich erneut mit der Richtlinie zu befassen.

As soon as Josep Borrell Fontelles, the president of the parliament satisfies the request of the legal committee, the commission is called upon to deal with the directive anew.

Konkret soll die Kommission ihren ursprünglichen Richtlinienvorschlag entweder noch einmal an das EU-Parlament übersenden oder einen neuen vorlegen.

Specifically the commission shall either transmit their original direcite to the EU-parliament or submit a new one.

P.S.: Mrs Berger is delegate from my home country Austria and I have mailed her two days ago asking her to support a renewed referral of the matter to the parliament - I hope this helped just a little.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: eamacnaghten on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 06:30 PM EST
I do not believe this would have happened without the lobbying by the FFII, Groklaw and others. It shows that when co-ordinated polite and constructive the Open Source community can make a significant difference.

Web Sig:Eddy Currents

[ Reply to This | # ]

Are they named?
Authored by: meshuggeneh on Wednesday, February 02 2005 @ 06:50 PM EST
Who abstained in the vote, what countries do they represent, and what offices do
they hold?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pro patent FUD sites.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 02:58 AM EST

I replied earlier to a comment on this topic that had the site in the message body
( nasty lobbying FUD ).

But believe it or not they linked to a site that is even more disturbing. ( hold
on to your meals ).

This one on several occasions fails to even make a subnote about the FOSS
community ( how handy ! )

Do we have to find out who is behind these sick jokes ?
Or can we guess a general direction?.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 03:07 AM EST
Check out who Michel Rocard is:

Apparently a really big cheese. Very cool that he seems to be on the side of

Can somebody arrange flowers for the politicians responsible for this? I'll
contribute 100 Euros personally.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 06:57 AM EST
Michel Rocard's speech ( 050202En) is a gem, and a good summary of the story!

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think, groklaw should closely follow the issue
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 07:43 AM EST
I think now we have the chance to actively influence the issues. I think, we
should create a dedicated topic here on groklaw to follow the subject.

I think, it would be nice to have all legal texts, documents in one place to
serve as central archive and resource of all the lobbying activities.

More than that, since the lobbying activities have to be performed in the 25 EU
countries, it would be nice to have groklaw as the center of this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 08:23 AM EST
Also see an article in Techworld where Linus Torvalds is quoted speaking against
software patents. Not a surprise, but the IBM / Sun partial patent release has
focused attention on the issue.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Heise translations
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 12:02 PM EST
It seems that many people make efforts at translations,
but Heise actually does publish the major articles in

The specific article:

[ Reply to This | # ]

International (patent) agreement
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 01:44 PM EST
I read somewhere the other reason this horrible thing is pushed so much is
because Europe signed an international agreement which actually forces Europe to
bring it's patent laws to the same level of insanity as the US.

Could somebody please confirm/ deny this ?

Ernest ter Kuile

[ Reply to This | # ]

Software Patents back to Square One
Authored by: Darkelve on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 02:25 PM EST
European citizens use their 'get out of jail for free' card.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Private Eye again
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 02:52 PM EST
"The EU council is so desperate to push through
controversial computer patent legislation, against the
wishes of the European parliament that it twice recently
tried sneakily to attach it to the agenda of the
agricultural commitee. Happily the move was blocked by
the Poles..." Eye readers with recall how Ireland's Bertie
Ahern[...]was sponsored by none other than Microsoft,
tried to push through legislation[...]

latest issue, Pg7.

Continuing to get it out to a wider audience

[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes - News report confirming this
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 02:53 PM EST

Here is the news release to confirm this


MEPs ask for a fresh proposal on patents for computer-implemented inventions

Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee voted on Wednesday to ask the Commission to present a fresh proposal on the patenting of computer-implemented inventions (CII). The decision, taken by 19 votes in favour, 1 against and 1 abstention, means that Parliament President Josep BORRELL will now formally present this request to the Commission, under rule 55 of the EP's rules of procedure.

Parliament's first-reading position on the controversial proposed directive in September 2003 adopted a number of amendments designed to ensure that patents would not be issued for pure software, thus seeking to address concerns expressed by the open source community. It also sought a strict definition of "invention" as a contribution to the state of the art in a technical field. To deserve a patent, a technical contribution should be new, non-obvious and susceptible to industrial application. However, most of Parliament's amendments were rejected by the Council, which has since been unable to reach agreement on the proposal.

Before the vote, the rapporteur Michel ROCARD (PES, FR), pressed Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCREEVY to say how he would proceed in light of the current deadlock but the Commissioner refused to be drawn, simply saying, "I am leaving all my options open in this matter."

Procedural questions

Although a large majority of the committee called for a fresh proposal under Rule 55, some MEPs, notably Klaus-Heiner LEHNE (EPP-ED, DE), stressed that the Commission is still at liberty to decide what to do. That observation was made in reply to Mr Rocard's impassioned plea against a new referral, which he feared would result in a long delay in the adoption of legislation which is necessary - even if unacceptable in its current form. While some Members clearly thought that the proposal has no future, others argued that a compromise solution can be found, as long as the Council and Commission are willing to work on a fresh draft, incorporating the Parliament's first-reading amendments.

02.02.2005 Committee on Legal Affairs In the chair: Giuseppe GARGANI (EPP-ED, IT)

[ Reply to This | # ]

From major polish newspaper: "There will be software patents?"
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 03:23 PM EST

I just read it in biggest polish newsparper ("Gazeta Wyborcza"), here is the link.

Is it just stupid reporter, or do they know better?

It says (sorry for very bad (mine) translation):

"Tak jak przewidywaliśmy, polski rząd wycofał się z blokowania kontrowersyjnej dyrektywy Unii Europejskiej"

"As we expected, polish government retracted its controversial position to block EU's directive"

"Potwierdził to Lucien Michels ... Ujawnił, że sprawa zostanie wkrótce podjęta przez ministrów państw Unii. I to w tzw. punkcie A obrad, co oznacza, że projekt zostanie po prostu przyjęty bez dyskusji. - Być może zajmie się tym już Rada Ministrów Finansów 17 lutego - oświadczył "Gazecie" Michels."

"It was confirmed by Lucien Michels ... He said, that the matter will be soon undertaken by Ministers of European Union. And probably as so called A item, which means that the project will be accepted without discussion. - Maybe it will be undertaken by Finance Council of Ministers on 17th of February - Michels told "Gazeta". "


[ Reply to This | # ]

JURI Votes: It's Restart
Authored by: Bas Burger on Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 05:46 PM EST
The problem with patents is that they are seen as a form of innovation tax by
the various governments and patent bureaus.
They see it as their natural right to collect, but the nasty thing is that they
get addicted after some time and thus refusing all reform that will damage their
percepted profits.
They really don't care if lot's of others suffer from their rules, it's the
rules remember, the rules are above all else for most civil servants.

The following might be a harsh statement, I do not mean to hurt people with
this, but I still have to say this because it is relevant to show what the
oponents are like in this battle.
Most people that were killed during WWII in Nazi germany where not killed by
sadistic soldiers, but by cool, non feeling civil servants.
Again sorry If this hurts people.

People that set rules above people are ruthless and lethal.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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