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Reactions in Denmark to EU Council Vote
Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 08:42 AM EST

I bet you're curious about how folks are reacting in Denmark to yesterday's performance by their representative. Well, happily, Groklaw has readers everywhere, and so we can tell you all about it. The reaction, as you might expect, is mixed. Those who supported the idea of software patents view it as a great victory, and those who oppose are asking their parliamentary lawyers to review if things were properly handled. The Danish Minister has been called to a meeting to explain himself. Here are some sources in Danish on how politicians there are reacting:

http://www.comon.dk/index.php/news/show/id=21401
http://www.comon.dk/index.php/news/show/id=21400">
http://www.computerworld.dk/default.asp?Mode=2&ArticleID=27362
http://www.computerworld.dk/default.asp?Mode=2&ArticleID=27359

Don't read Danish? Here is a translation by Groklaw's elhaard of the first on the list, a snip of it, with some explanatory notes by him:

Lone Dybkjær (R [Radikale, a center party]) will ask the Parliament lawyers to examine whether the EU Council's Luxembourgian President acted correctly when it denied Denmark's demand for a new debate about the patent directive this Monday. The directive was passed as an A item without debate during the meeting even though Minister of Commerce, Bendt Bendtsen, was mandated by the Danish Parliament's Europe Council to work towards getting the directive transferred to a B item.

"It is a pity that we could not get the case taken off as an A item and put on as a B item. I will ask the [Danish] Parliament lawyers to assess whether Luxembourg has followed the correct procedure", says Lone Dybkjær to Ingeniøren|net [the net edition of the Danish Engineer Associations newspaper]. . . .

"The way the Luxembourgian precidency has handled the case must also be a part of the EU Parliament's assessment. At that point one will have to say that we are in accordance with the EU Parliament's legal committee which said that a restart was needed", says Lone Dybkjær.

Among the Danish politicians, there are mixed reactions on the passing of the directive. The Conservative [ie. same party as Bendt Bendtsen] MEP Gitte Seeberg believes that this is a victory for the European software industry.

"It has been a good day for software developers. The European software patent has moved closer, and we should all be glad about that, even though the opposition in the Danish parliament to the very end tried to obstruct the process in the whole of Europe", says Gitte Seeberg.

The article ends with a quotation from one politician who asks the real questions: how hard did the Danish representative, who was known to favor software patents but was compelled to oppose by the votes he represented, fight? Did he just "forget" to ask for the A item to be removed? The second article indicates he is being asked exactly such questions.

First, our translator's explanation about the second article:

"This is about Bendt Bendtsen being called in joint council. That means that one or more members of the Danish parliament has asked the minister a question that he absolutely must answer fully and truly. It is a semi-serious matter. They are telling him: 'You probably did something wrong and you better have a very good excuse. And we certainly would like to hear it.' If the minister can come up with an excuse, there is usually no further action, but if the matter is serious enough and he has no excuse, it might escalate -- and that could be serious for him."

Here is a bit of the article:

"The message from a majority in the Danish Parliament's Europe Committee was clear as crystal. Bendt Bendtsen was asked to have the item removed so that it could be transferred as a B item, where the case can be discussed. The wish for having a debate about the compromise that was reached in May 2004 is in accordance with the EU Parliament and is legal committe, which wants a renewed discussion of the proposed directive, that have met criticism from many EU countries", says SF's EU spokesperson, Anne Grete Holmsgaard.

According to Bendt Bendtsen, the Commision's Luxembougian presidency denied the Danish demand for treating the directive as a B item.

"Of course, I cannot know what has taken place before the meeting, which by the way was open to the public. But one of two things must have happened: Either the presidency has set aside the rule that a country can have an item removed from the agenda; or Denmark has simply not been active enough", says Anne Grete Holmsgaard.

The third article is Mr. Bendtsen explaining himself, as our translator summarizes:

"The third article cites Bendt Bendtsen saying that he fought as hard as possible, but that he simply wasn't backed enough by the other countries - that only Portugal supported Denmark. Apparently he does not understand the opposition against the directive, and according to him, neither do his Finnish and Danish collegues. According to him, they say that a rejection of the directive will not only be bad for big enterprises like Nokia, but also for small and medium sized enterprises."

In short, he didn't want to do what he was tasked to do. The next article is a rehash of the others, he says, but the fifth adds this:

"It says that several factions of the EU parliament are directly hostile towards the directive, and that the atmosphere is not improved by the way it was treated in the Council."

So, now you know the story from Denmark thanks to elhaard, and I know you join me in saying Thank You to him.


  


Reactions in Denmark to EU Council Vote | 239 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: elhaard on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 09:26 AM EST

It seems the link to the fifth article (in Danish) was left out...

Jørgen Elgaard Larsen

---
This comment is licensed under a Creative Commons License (Attribution 2.0). Share & enjoy!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections
Authored by: FrankH on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 09:52 AM EST
Put them here so that PJ can find them easily please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Corrections - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST
  • Corrections - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 01:34 PM EST
  • Junk after second link - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 03:11 PM EST
"A good day for software developers"
Authored by: sf on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 09:54 AM EST
The press release by Gitte Seeberg is truly a gem, it's among the worst things I've ever read. And the most scary thing is that this woman is a MEP. Here is a rough translation of her article where she interviews herself:

It has been a good day for software developers. European software patents has come a lot closer, says Gitte Seeberg.

"We should all be happy over the decision in the EU Council, even if the opposition in Folketinget [the Danish Parliament] until the last moment tried to sabotage the process in whole Europe", says Gitte Seeberg.

The conservative member of the European Parliament comments on the decision in the Council of Ministers today, where a majority decision was taken about a common position on software patents.

"Software patents is an absolutely necessary protection of particularly small and medium-sized businesses, who otherwise risk to see their good ideas and products copied by the big with much larger resources for development and marketing. Such maverick conditions cannot serve the European software business well", says Gitte Seeberg. [Yes, I guess that's why all patent supporters are multi-national mega-corporations]

She turns against the Danish social democrats and left wing, who has tried to stop the whole process.

"If the leftists had managed to stop this process, we wouldn't have been able to secure the software patent directive for several years. This would have been a hard blow for the European software industry and the many jobs in this sector", says Gitte Seeberg.

She hopes, that the directive from the Council will be positively received in the European Parliament, which is co-legislator in this area.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Scrutiny patentable?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 09:54 AM EST
I'm very glad Groklaw looks at this issue with the same scrutiny it reserves for

SCO matters. Maybe you could patent this approach?

Just kidding, as an European I'm very glad you take this to heart. Three kisses

and lots of positive feelings!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Committee asks the Minister to explain
Authored by: Kristoffer on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:02 AM EST
According to this document from the Danish Parliament's committee on European Matters, Minister Bendtsen has been asked the following:

"Will the Minister please explain what he (or official servants) did prior to and during the Council Meeting on March 7 to ensure that the software patent issue (KOM (2002) 0092) was removed from the agenda as an A-item in preparation of enlisting it as a B-item.

We will see if he is going to be dressed down at the upcoming meeting,

./ Kristoffer
Denmark

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: MathFox on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:03 AM EST
At 16:30 Dutch time there will be a debate in (NL) parliament with the minister
about his "vote" in the council and the statement he made there. Some
MP's are unhappy with what happened there.

---
When people start to comment on the form of the message, it is a sign that they
have problems to accept the truth of the message.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Polish reaction in International Herald Tribune.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:12 AM EST

EU software patent law gains initial approval

"Backing out of a political agreement has never happened in the European Union," said Wlodzimierz Marcinski, the Polish under secretary of state for science and information technology. "We had no choice. We had to follow procedures."

The Polish government, he said, prefers the version of the proposed law agreed upon in 2003 by the European Parliament to the more pro-patent text it signed on Monday....... Poland and the other 24 members of the European Union will have a second chance to give their opinion about the proposed law. Marcinski said his government would not make the same mistake twice.

"We will only support a directive that clearly says that computer programs are not patentable," he said......... International Herald Tribune

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent-based LawSuits...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:18 AM EST
How long will MicroSoft have to wait until this law can't
be repealed before it starts issuing lawsuits based on it?

After all, when S/W patents are big-ticket items that only
the big boys can file for...

Sounds like an IP Caste System to me, folks.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reaction in the UK
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:20 AM EST
The Daily Telegraph (the most widely read broadsheet ~1 million copys/day)
finally carried a story on this. None to happy either. They managed to ferret
out a pro patent Conservative MEP to rant similar nonsense to this Danish one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Yes, Prime Minister
Authored by: amcguinn on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:21 AM EST
Quote from the TV comedy: (series 1, ep. 6)
"It's well known that in the British Foreign Office an instruction from the Prime Minister becomes a request from the Foreign Secretary, a recommendation from the Minister of State and, finally, a suggestion to the [UN] ambassador. If it ever gets that far."
(The EU isn't the only supra-national body, after all)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in UK...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:29 AM EST
I emailed all 9 of my elected MEPs here in London with my thoughts and feelings
on the matter as soon as I heard this happen yesterday....

I have just had one reply I thought I'd share with you all which sickens me....

Thank you for your email concerning the recent Council decision. The Council's
Common Position will now return to the European Parliament for a Second Reading.
MEPs will still have much to say on this matter and will play a full part in the
joint negotiations on the details of the final document.

The Labour MEPs' position is reflected in the amendments we tabled and voted for
in the Parliament's report on the Commission proposal on the patentability of
computer-implemented inventions. There has already been a good deal of
discussion on this issue in the committee and in the broader Parliament, we are
not convinced by the case for attempting to re-start the process.

The approach of the Labour MEPs, led by Arlene McCarthy MEP on the Legal Affairs
Committee, remains:



· No US-style patenting of software.



· Software as such, must not be patented. No patenting of business
methods or "general ideas"



· Opensource software must be allowed to flourish and the Commission must
ensure that this Directive does not have any adverse effect on opensource
software and small software developers.



· Patents and the threat of litigation must not be used as an
anti-competitive weapon to squeeze out small companies.



During the Second Reading, Parliament will continue its negotiations with the
Member States and European Commission on our amendments and we believe we can
achieve a result which will limit and restrict the patentability of
computer-implemented inventions. We must seek a solution for all stakeholders
and the industry as a whole.



The European Patent Office has already issued 40,000 software patents. Without
an EU directive we could end up drifting towards the extension of patentability
to business methods, algorithms or mathematical methods, as is the case in the
US.



We are voting to limit patents, not voting to introduce software patents .





Yours sincerely



Robert Evans MEP

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:30 AM EST
"It has been a good day for software developers. The European software patent has moved closer, and we should all be glad about that, even though the opposition in the Danish parliament to the very end tried to obstruct the process in the whole of Europe", says Gitte Seeberg."

A good day for software developers? It is just the opposite, developers will not be able to create anything new without paying Microsoft and others. Microsoft will control developers and eventually every aspect of your life. It is mind-bugling that Europeans do this to themselves. They consciously make a law which will mandate patent tax to Microsoft. I really do not know how to describe it, the word stupid comes to mind thought.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: DBLR on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:32 AM EST
Please place your off topic story here.

Charles

---

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is
a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
Benjamin Franklin.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:33 AM EST
On the one hand, I'm told that the proposed law will prevent European patent offices from issuing 'business process' patents (which would be a good thing). On the other hand, I'm told that the proposed law would allow European patent offices to issue patents for algorithms (which would be a restriction of free speech, and a bad thing) or even for sequences of 0's and 1's (in case they embodied the algorithm, which would be rather like a law defining 'Pi' as 3.2)

Where does the truth lie ? What's actually being proposed ?

Surely patents can only possibly be issued for 'novel' items; in which case it's up to the free programmers to cover the EU with prior art before these things get legitimised.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 10:35 AM EST
This is too sad true ...

"But it turns out that the European Parliament, the part of the European
government that is actually elected by the people, has very little power in
comparison to the unelected bureaucrats in the European Commission."

See more here http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1773854,00.asp

[ Reply to This | # ]

The case against patents?
Authored by: jseigh on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 11:12 AM EST
Has anyone come up with a well reasoned good case against patents? I mean other than the irrational patents are evil, property is theft which does little to convince anyone not already of like opinion.

As someone who, IMNSHO, is actually doing innovation I see very few of what I consider serious issues with patents being addressed. Usually I put stuff into public domain to protect my right to use it since I don't have the time or money to do patents. I recently ran into an issue where attempting to put something into the public domain may actually have the opposite effect of enabling someone else, if they wanted to, to patent and lay claim to a rather huge area of computing. Namely on the issue that the patent office doesn't know the difference between non-obvious and the application of a new technique to conventional problems. The "in conjuction with" problem. I can't give more details at this point.

Looking at the issue outside the area of computing, at drug patents for instance. Usually the case against drug patents is that it makes drugs too expensive. The argument for drug patents is the profits are needed to finance drug research. Both arguments sound reasonable, but since drug companies contribute more to lawmakers than consumers, the drug companies arguments win. You really need to attack the premise that market driven drug research maximizes the public benefit. It doesn't. It maximizes drug company profits in the most efficient way possible from a market view point. If you want a case in point, take the apparent flu vaccine shortage earlier this year. Whay did we have a shortage? Not enough profit in making flu vaccine.

To tie back into software patents, you're going to have to make a better case as to why the public should care, using issues that the public does care about -- besides getting stuff for free, which is probably not a good argument to draw out to its natural conclusion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: kryten_nl on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 11:30 AM EST
I'm listening live to a debate in the Dutch "Tweede Kamer" (UK eq
House of Commons).

The minister of Economic Affairs (L.J. Brinkhorst) just said the Danish minister
never asked (insisted) the item to be changed to a B-item, hence there was no
way for him to support such a motion.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A Victory for Software Developers?
Authored by: rweiler on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 11:31 AM EST
Do the politicians actually even talk to any honest to god software developers,
or do they think they just need to talk to Bill Gates and he represents all
software developers? The idea that this is a win for software developers in
general is absolutely ludicrous. For shareholders in monopoly software
companies? You bet! But for everybody else? Absolutely not. I guess Bush II was
serious afterall when he talked about exporting American Style Democracy (tm),
democracy of, by, and for the rich, and the rich alone.

---
Sometimes the measured use of force is the only thing that keeps the world from
being ruled by force. -- G. W. Bush

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Commission Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 11:55 AM EST
"[...] Apperently [sic] he does not understand the opposition against the directive, and according to him, neither do his Finnish and Danish [sic, should be Swedish?] collegues [sic]. According to him, they say that a rejection of the directive will not only be bad for big enterprises like Nokia, but also for small and medium sized enterprises."

This looks like an admission on his part that he let the Finnish and (Swedish?) delegates affect his decision. How could this be if he had a clear mandate and obligation to act otherwise?

[ Reply to This | # ]

WIPO effect?
Authored by: KontinMonet on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 01:22 PM EST
I've read somewhere that if this EPO directive comes into effect, that as most (if not all the EU) are signatories to WIPO that US patents (almost) automatically become relevant in Europe. If this is true, thiswould be a complete disaster for European s/w companies.

Anyone here know the details?

[ Reply to This | # ]

HAS MCCREEVY GIVEN IN - Reuters
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 01:29 PM EST

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - The European Commission will not propose a new law on the patenting of computer-related inventions if the European Parliament rejects the current controversial proposal, a top official said on Tuesday................ Reuters

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Another UK response
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 01:52 PM EST
This was one of the replies from a UK MEP I wrote to about this:

>I refer to your recent email to Chris Huhne MEP. I am his
>senior advisor and he has asked me to reply on his behalf.
>
>I am sorry this is a very long reply, but I hope you will
>get through it all. The length is necessary for a full
>understanding because I am afraid that most of the reporting
>about what this legislation covers is very wrong, as indeed is some of the
>commentary about the procedure. To be thorough I will cover all of these
>matters in this reply and I apologise if some of it repeats what you
>already know.
>
>It is not quite clear why there is such a belief that it is intended
>to lead Europe down the US path because that battle, (such
>as it was) was won a long time ago and the proposed legislation both
>makes it clear that Europe does not intend to do the same as
>the US and provides a defence against further attempts to
>force it that way. The Liberal Democrats have always opposed
>any extension to the current practice, but as you will see
>from this reply, that is not actually what is at issue.
>
>A full background and explanation is given below and I also
>attach a copy of the latest version of the proposal (the Common Position)
>and a PDF of an explanatory leaflet produced by the UK Patent Office.
>The Common Position does not change what has been
>established practice in the UK and Europe in recent years,
>which is and will continue to be more restricted than US
>practice. There never was an intention to allow what many
>have understood by the phrase 'software patents' and the
>Common Position now reflects this much better. The most
>important part of the Common Position is the Articles on
>pages 8 and 9 and in particular Articles 2, 4 and 4a which
>are all short and relatively simple.
>
>The most recent events in the procedure of the proposed
>directive is that the Legal Affairs Committee
>asked that the directive be returned to them for
>another first reading rather than it coming back at this
>stage for second reading as would be usual. Liberal Democrats supported
>that request which was made so as to enable more consideration and
>understanding to be reached. The Commission President refused that
>request, fearing it might set too much of a precedent and because they
>wanted to make progress on the legislation. Also, on 7 March 2005, the
>Council finally approved the Common Position so the matter is now on its
>way back to the European Parliament for second reading.
>
>The process once there is a draft Common Position
>(agreed through negotiation and with expert advice) is that
>the draft Common Position has to be passed formally
>by one of the Council meetings (any Council can do this, and this is what
>has now just been done) and then it goes back to the Parliament for a
>second reading where it can be amended again, accepted or refused and it
>will then go back to the Council.
>
>This to and fro is rather like between the UK Commons and
>Lords and is the normal process with nothing getting through
>until both agree. It is likely that after this next Parliament/Council
>round the directive will end up in the 'conciliation' procedure,
>where Parliament and Council representatives meet together to see if a
>decision can be reached, rather than always considering things separately.
>
>
>In fact it makes no difference to the software industry whether the
>directive is passed or evetually falls, because in the absence of the
>directive the status quo will be maintained and the Common Position and
>the status quo are essentially the same. (In fact the directive is
>probably more restricting than the status quo by virtue of the Articles
>mentioned above).
>
>The risk if it is dropped altogether is that Europe gets forced in the
>future, via the World Trade Organisation, to accept something that is more
>like the US practice, which the current directive would stave off. Now
>to the detail...
>
>FULL EXPLANATION INCLUDING BACKGROUND
>
>Background. Patents are granted for inventions that are new,
>not obvious (have inventive merit) and are capable of
>industrial application. These may be products or processes
>(methods). Historically legislation has specifically
>excluded from patentability some fields such as mathematical
>methods, business methods and computer programs which at the
>time of their exclusion were considered entirely 'mental
>operations' and therefore not capable of industrial
>application.
>
>The problem in recent years faced by Patent Offices and
>courts has been how to interpret 'computer programs'.
>This has become highly relevant, not just because of the
>increasing use of computer programs but rather more because
>of the nature of things that are done nowadays by computer
>programs.
>
>In particular there are now substantial areas of technology
>where software has replaced conventional analog or digital
>circuits. Examples range from control of mechanical systems
>such as an internal combustion engine to control of packet
>switching in network routers, which underlies communications
>technology.
>
>To be effective a patent must cover the concept as well as
>the detail of the invention, so although a computer program
>listing might be given as an example of how to perform part
>or all of an invention, the patent claims (the bit that
>defines, legally, what is covered) would not be so specific
>and usually relate to the method steps that are implemented
>in the software. (This is why relying on copyright
>protection in the listing is not sufficient.) So the
>question arose of whether the exclusion of 'computer
>programs' covered only listings or extended to claims to a
>method that is entirely put into operation through a
>program, i.e. is 'software or computer- implemented'.
>
>The European Patent Office adopted the practice that a
>'computer-implemented invention' was more than just a
>'computer program' and was patentable when there was
>also a technical effect because this fulfilled the
>fundamental requirement that a patent be 'capable of
>industrial application'. This interpretation was also
>followed by courts in the UK and Germany and is what we have
>had in Europe for some years. There has been pressure from
>the US for wider coverage as they have. This has been
>resisted (not least by parts of the profession and patent
>offices in Europe) but does seem to have given rise to
>lasting fear.
>
>More recently, some European countries expressed the opinion
>that their courts might take a different view on 'computer
>implemented inventions' and deem patents that were to a
>method implemented by a program (as were being granted by
>the European Patent Office) invalid. At this stage
>clarification became desirable for a variety of reasons. One
>of these was that if the practice of the European Patent
>Office were not upheld in all courts, then the same logic
>that caused the EPO to regard these computer-implemented
>inventions as patentable (by virtue of being methods capable
>of industrial application and belonging to a field of
>technology) could also be used to find against the EU in
>respect of its TRIPS obligations (Trade Related Intellectual
>Property Agreements which are part of the WTO agreements)
>under which patent protection for all areas of technology
>must be provided. The comments that were made about what courts might
>decide was only a theoretical breach, in that it had not actually
>happened, but coupled with the uncertainty that the pronouncements had
>made the Commission considered it would be best to confirm a uniform
>interpretation.
>
>The Proposals. The objective is to define the practice that
>the EPO has established as applicable in all countries. This
>would mean no change to the practice that the software
>industry has experienced in recent years in Europe and no
>following of wider US practice.
>
>Unfortunately the Commission draft was not perfect in
>achieving the objective, and many continued to fear that a
>US type of patent coverage was intended as some discussion
>of that did take place at an earlier stage, but was
>rejected.
>
>Amendments passed by the Parliament at first reading, some of which were
>proposed by the software industry, unintentionally made
>matters worse. For example the amendments included several
>that attempted to redefine 'industrial application' and
>'technical effect' which are definitions that have been
>in use for decades with a substantial body of law behind
>them on a worldwide basis. The new definitions may have
>solved a problem (that was not necessarily there) for the
>software industry but they also had an impact on other areas
>of electronics, potentially excluding from patentability a
>range of electronic inventions, such as those implemented
>through processing of signal values, for which patentability
>had previously never been in doubt. This would have been a
>disaster for the European electronics and communications
>industries, including many SMEs, and would have left the EU
>in an actual rather than just a theoretical breach of its
>TRIPS obligations.
>
>The draft 'Common Position' from the Council, did not
>include all the wording of the amendments, but has included enough to make
>it absolutely clear that for patentability a computer implemented
>invention must have a technical effect (i.e. beyond the ordinary
>interactions of a computer and program) and the inventive merit
>must relate to that technical effect.
>
>Detail from the Common Position. The Council Common
>Position specifically includes the amendment passed by the
>Parliament and supported by the Liberal Democrats that "In
>order to be patentable, a computer-implemented invention
>must be susceptible of industrial application and new and
>involve an inventive step. In order to involve an inventive
>step, a computer-implemented invention must make a technical
>contribution".
>
>Other important parts of the Council Common Position are:
>
>In the Directive:
>
> - A computer program as such cannot constitute a patentable
>invention
>
> - Inventions involving computer programs, whether
>expressed as source code, as object code or in any other
>form, which implement business, mathematical or other
>methods and do not produce any technical effects beyond the
>normal physical interactions between a program and the
>computer, network or other programmable apparatus in which
>it is run shall not be patentable.
> (Note: this limitation seems to exclude operating systems,
>as they are a normal interaction, and so one of the perceived
>problems of interoperability is solved)
>
> - A claim to a computer program, either on its own or on a
>carrier, shall not be allowed unless that program would,
>when loaded and executed in a computer, programmed computer
>network or other programmable apparatus, put into force a
>product or process claimed in the same patent application.
>
>And in the accompanying explanation:
>
> - An algorithm is inherently non-technical and therefore
>cannot constitute a technical invention. Nonetheless, a
>method involving the use of an algorithm might be patentable
>provided that the method is used to solve a technical
>problem. However, any patent granted for such a method
>would not monopolise the algorithm itself or its use in
>contexts not foreseen in the patent.
>
>-The mere implementation of an otherwise unpatentable method
>on an apparatus such as a computer is not in itself
>sufficient to warrant a finding that a technical
>contribution is present. Accordingly, a computer-implemented
>business method, data processing method or other method in
>which the only contribution to the state of the art is
>non-technical cannot constitute a patentable invention.
>
>We do not yet know what amendments may be proposed when the
>legislation returns to the Parliament, but on balance it is
>probably better to accept something broadly in line with the Common
>Position than to amend extensively. Total rejection would be better
>than poor amendments again. The disadvantage of rejection is that the
>matter would eventually come back again and could end up
>worse if it is done under WTO pressure rather than now under
>our own volition.
>
>Inventive merit.
>In addition to what the directive actually covers, many websites on the
>subject have mixed in comments about particular patents (often US ones
>rather than European ones). US and Europe must not be mixed
>up, we have different laws. Unfortunately even in Europe
>mistakes are sometimes made about granting patents for
>something that turns out to be trivial (often these mistakes
>are made at an early stage of new practice and before
>oppositions and challenges in courts provide better
>limitations). There are remedies for this, the problem is by no means
>unique to this area of technology, and it should not be used to confuse
>the actual issues. In general the European Patent Office aims to keep the
level
>of inventive merit high, and would more certainly be more careful if the
>directive is passed given both the new conditions and the review
>provisions in the directive.
>
>Inter-operability
>One matter that some consider is not resolved is that of
>inter-operability. Article 4a2, that excludes patents that are just the
>normal interaction of a computer and program, may well go some way to
>assisting in this by seeming to exclude patentability for operating
>systems (a normal interaction?). However, the problem actually arises not
>from patents but from copyright. There is a similar design copyright
>problem concerning 'must-fit designs', e.g. allowing spare parts for cars
>to be made by anyone, and at present the correct wording to enable that
>is still being sought. As the computer inter-operability problem is mainly
>the result of copyright (and will be more so if the directive is passed) I
>have recently proposed via the UK Patent Office that perhaps the spare
>parts and inter-operability point could be considered together.
>
>I am sorry this is so long, but I do hope that you have
>found it informative. Please do contact me again if you
>require any further information.
>
>Yours sincerely
>
>Sharon Bowles
>Senior Advisor to Chris Huhne MEP

[ Reply to This | # ]

The only way to do this...
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 04:42 PM EST
Is a full public referendum for every member country of
the EU - let the people decide - vox populi.

Some may have criticised me for being very "negative" in
previous comments - but you will see that I was right on
the money. The EU commission doesn't care about the
people, the wishes of the people, or the vote of the EU
Parliament. It has long since sold out to the large mega
corporations (typically American).

Watch as this decision is ratified by a vote in the EU
Parliament (where I expect it to win in a majority
landslide), you will see Microsoft start to act. They
will launch IP infringement cases against various open
source projects on both sides of the Atlantic. Samba,
ndiswrapper, smb4k, linneighorhood, swat, various parts of
the Linux kernel itself will come under heavy attack.
Microsoft has the money to attack on both sides of the
atlantic and have legal cases against all of these
projects running in tandem.

The US DOJ will do as usual - nothing. Microsoft will
argue that these legal actions are necessary to protect
its IP, and that they are not being anti competitive by
launching said legal action.

I firmly believe that SCO was a deliberate ploy by
Microsoft and Sun to see how the open source community
would react, as well as how deep IBM and Novell are
prepared to go to protect freedoms. Think of SCO as a
trojan horse.

The vast majority of the populace only know Windows, only
care about Windows and don't understand, and do not want
understand the problems with extended copyrights or
patents on software. OSS is fighting a uphill battle and
will lose. You cannot win a battle when you are not the
majority. If you don't believe me, go to a mall. Ask a
thousand people "Do you know what Linux is?". Go on. See
how many people out of those 1000 do. I'd say if you're
lucky maybe 85 people. And if you analyse those people,
you will see that they're all highly technical people,
employed within the IT industry - not of the "ordinary"
populace.

People have been using Microsoft Windows for far too long,
it's just deemed to be a natural part of computers these
days. It's ubiquitous. Microsoft will bully as many open
source projects into closing as it can, with that a
decline in Linux and open source usage will occur. Sure,
Linux will survive, but only a a hobby system, with no
business, economic or social threat to Microsoft and other
dominant software corporations - which is exactly what
they want.

There is no easy way to avoid this. Sure, open source
developers can move to open source friendly countries, but
then the mighty financial arm of the corrupt US government
will simply employ economic sanction tactics against said
countries. Maybe even invade them!

Look at what the US is doing to Iran at the moment, trying
to dictate what the Iranians can do in their own country!
Talk about a dictatorship! If Iran doesn't behave
themselves they'll be invaded just like Iraq was.
Illegally I might add. You pro war Americans can argue
all you like, deep down you know that you are in the
wrong. That the invasion was illegal. Americans would be
more highly liked by the rest of the world if their
government and business didn't insist on shoving itself
down our [every other non US country] throats. Before you
call me anti American (and I openly admit that I am),
think about it. Think about all the things the US has
done to piss every other country off. Times when the US
government has involved itself in foreign affairs that
they had no right to. These all add up. The US has a
attitude of we can bully other countries economically to
do what we want, and if that doesn't work we'll concoct
some bullshit story about weapons of mass destruction and
invade. No other country seems to have the guts to stand
up to the US.

The problems with Americans are that they are highly
patriotic. Any attack on their 'beloved' country is a
insult and must be wrong. Many Americans are so blinkered
it isn't funny. I'd call it extremely naive.

Some will argue that i've gone off topic - I argue that I
haven't. Linux and OSS and patents are political in
nature. Patents etc, are fundamentally driven by the US
Government and US business, for their own greedy
interests. Nothing more, nothing less. It's the
"American way" so to speak. To argue about Linux, GNU and
open source will involve political speak, and political
arguments. That is unavoidable. I see as what I perceive
as the root cause of the problem and I 100% believe that I
have valid arguments.

That being said, to be fair to the Americans - every
government official is corrupt. In EVERY country around
the globe. The power of the people is not happening and
NEVER will. We are all puppets, controlled from birth to
death by those in power. Nothing more, and nothing less.
It's amazing that so called "primative cultures" had
leaders who were respected and praised, because they
listened to their people, and acted in the best interests
of their people. Money wasn't also the be all and end all
of their lives. That doesn't happen in modern society
anymore. Why does a business have more rights than an
individual. In fact a business should have absolutely no
rights at all. It's a fundamental mistake of every major
so called democratic nation in this current world and the
messy enclime that exists. Only individuals have rights.

Imagine if every country in the world, allowed its
populace to vote on every single bill that reaches
parliament. The voice of the people. True freedom. True
democracy. Of course this would take some getting used
to. People won't know what to do with their freedom.
They'd be confused, or emphatically lazy. The people need
to control the world, not the rich, powerful and the
businesses.

True freedom in society is lacking.

Dave

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Council Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 05:59 PM EST
A grim outcome. The world political scene, in general, is not moving in a way I find comforting.
Meanwhile, I'd like to leaven the general disappointment with a bit of haiku doggerel:

Useful EC fools,
caught! Giving mischievous tools,
to corporate ghouls


- ARF
(Creative Commons, of course!;-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Council Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 08:04 PM EST
Patents were designed to be a way to help protect the little guy from being
bludgeoned by the larger companies, who would be able to produce the invention
at higher volumes for less profit per item -- pricing the inventor out of the
market. This is good policy for material goods.

However, it has the most bass-ackward consequences for software. Software
doesn't have a per-unit cost to create or sell, so the inventor could
conceivably sell software and/or services for less than the big companies (since
they don't have a mountainous bureaucracy to support). Patents don't do much
for the smaller developer, because the big company will find a patent that they
own and force the little guy to cross-license. Any talk of software patents
protecting anyone against the big companies is pure folly.

Moreover, Microsoft has been quoted in the news recently as agressively pursuing
cross-licensing arrangements with the largest IP companies to enable each member
of the circle to provide protection to their customers. However, in the worst
case, small companies will not be able to gain entry to market without being
forced to cross-license their patents and have their market opportunity co-opted
by the software oligopoly.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"In EU Parliament the Council events of yesterday as seen as a severe power struggle..." FFII
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 08 2005 @ 08:19 PM EST

FFII: McCreevy humiliated by European Parliament

Strasburg, 8 March 2005 -- The Commissioner for the Internal Market explained the procedure on the software patent directive towards members of the European Parliament between 18.00 and 18.45 CET this evening. The issue was mixed up with great concern of MEPs about the EU Services draft directive. Charlie McCreevy was humiliated over the Council "adoption". MEPs expressed great concern about the affront of the new Commissioner to Parliament. In EU Parliament the Council events of yesterday are seen as a severe power struggle rather than a normal issue of political disagreement with the Commission........... wiki.ffii.org

Also various recordings and maybe some translation.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

There's something rotten in the state of Denmark
Authored by: larsmjoh on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 01:27 AM EST
Or, not to mention, in the whole European Bananna Union...

---
--
"Do not try to think outside of the box. That's impossible.
Instead, realise the truth. There is no box."

[ Reply to This | # ]

Council Speaker violated the rules?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 02:09 AM EST
I made a very detailed transcript of the meeting, because its clear that something smells very bad here.

I have put the transcript up here :

transcript and audio

and copy the last section here again, because the devil is in the details at the end! :

"But if this is not possible, I am not going to stand in the way of a formal adoption of the point. Therefor regretfully submit a written statement to be included the minutes. The points in that statement will be pursued by us when this matter comes back to the council after the EU parliament has concluded its 2nd reading. Thank you chairman.

/* A French member wants to make some comments, in french of course. */
/* and guess what? gets switched off. */

Thank you but i will take notes of your statement and i thank you for your comments. .... So i think i can note? ....

/* The man now speaks to himself : */

(He doesn't want me to speak? SWITCH ME OFF!)

/* The Council Speaker is apparently referring to the French delegate here, but still continues */
/* without responding in a normal fashion to the French delegate */

Ehhm ... I'd like now all to invite the council to adopt the other points of the list of A-points.
"

Someone suggested that the Speaker on behalf of the EU Council made a severe procedural error here: a violation of Article 3.8 of the Rules of Procedure. From which i conclude here from the above transcript and audio file that the Council speaker not only did this on purpose, the whole thing was scripted!

Robert M. Stockmann
stock@stokkie.net

[ Reply to This | # ]

Read & understand?
Authored by: oneandoneis2 on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 04:23 AM EST
Since one the MEPs I wrote to was thoughtful enough to send me a copy of the directive, I had a go at reading it.

Now I'm really baffled. Can somebody help me out here?

From article 7: "programs for computers together with discoveries, scientific theories, mathematical methods, aesthetic creations, schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and presentations of information are expressly not regarded as inventions and are therefore excluded from patentability."

So. . . this seems to say that software can't be patented. But surely the main problem people have with s/w patents isn't patenting the whole program, but more features of that program - like "Clicking here makes this help feature appear". So does this article say that this is or isn't allowed?

From #12: "where it does not make a technical contribution to the state of the art, as would be the case, for example, where its specific contribution lacks a technical character, it will lack an inventive step and thus will not be patentable."

"a technical contribution" is defined as "a contribution to the state of the art in a field of technology which is new and not obvious to a person skilled in the art". So this is good, right? It eliminates patents like Amazon's "one click", right?

But we know there's already patents that exist in Europe for non-obvious and downright trivial stuff. But right now, AIUI, they're not enforceable.

So, if s/w patents get legalised under this directive: Will those trivial patents be thrown out, or will it still be possible for their owners to start court action with them? Even if the patent would be thrown out, the cost of getting that far would presumably be beyond many small developers?

From #13c: "an algorithm is inherently non-technical and therefore cannot constitute a technical invention. Nonetheless, a method involving the use of an algorithm might be patentable provided that the method is used to solve a technical problem. However, any patent granted for such a method would not monopolise the algorithm itself or its use in contexts not foreseen in the patent.

Okay. Now I read this as meaning that, for example, the algorithm used to turn a WAV file into an MP3 is not patentable under this rule, whereas a piece of software that can generate an MP3 from a WAV could potentially be.

Isn't that the wrong way round? I thought that algorithms usually WERE patentable, and that was why the Ogg Vorbis format was created as an alternative to MP3s - it has the same effect, compressing a music file, but does it differently.

Clarification, please?

[ Reply to This | # ]

oh for the scientific method
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 04:37 AM EST
Avocates of the directive apparently claim the intention is to avoid US-style
software patents.

If so a rational scientific approach would be to sample a set of such (US)
patents and write the appropriate critiques relative to the key notion of
'technical contribution' (a nebulous, even meaningless phrase at first sight to
the educated layman). This way there would be a body of fact illustrating the
intentions of the legislation - examples of what does meet a 'technical
contribution' standard. The european patent offices are well staffed with people
qualified to do this work.

Incidentally, does anyone know of an MP or member of the government here in the
UK with a non-trivial background in science or software. David Sainsbury (the
minister for science and technology) graduated in History and Psychology
(Natural Sciences) then MBA (Colombia) before joining the family business -
pretty tenuous understanding of science or software as I think came out at that
meeting on 14th December.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Somewhat more hopeful UK MEP response
Authored by: TiddlyPom on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 05:40 AM EST
I has horrified and disgusted by the EU council trying to bypass democratic debate to force the adoption of software patents so I sent e-mails to three of my local MEPs.

These are the MEPs in my region

Having e-mailed Arlene McCarthy, Gary Titley and Chris Davies with this letter (apologies for somewhat unstructured content):


---------------------[ start of letter] ------------------------

Dear <Person>


I am appalled to read that the Council Presidency has declared that Software Parents have been adopted in violation of procedural rules and despite the fact that there is not an overriding majority and that several states have asked to reopen negotiations.

See link http://wiki.ffii.org/Cons050307En

Groklaw has more about it here http://www.gro klaw.net/article.php?story=20050307095336843

As a software developer with nearly 20 years experience I know just how stupid trying to patent a general idea is.

In the personal computer arena, there are only three real players now i.e.

Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com )

Apple (http://www.apple.com )

GNU/Linux (http://www.linux.org )

Most people have heard of Microsoft and Apple but less people have heard of GNU/Linux. The Free and Open Source (FOSS) community have, through their own voluntary efforts and that of various helpful businesses managed to create a computer operating system which is free to own and use and as sophisticated and powerful as Windows (and has been in existence since 1992)

Information

Free Software Foundation http://www.fsf.org/

GNU + GPL http://www.gnu.org



Example Linux Distributions

Mandrake Linux
http://www.mandrakelinux.com

Fedora Core Linux
http://fedora.redhat.com

Debian Linux
http://www.debian.org


The advantage that Linux has over Windows is that any business that uses it does not have to pay any licensing costs as the code is free to use by everyone. Another overriding advantage is that the source code for the operating system and applications is open to view by everyone and so can be inspected and modified if required.

If a school was to use Linux then no licence fees would need to be paid at all for any software on any of the computers. Pupils would be free (quite legally) to copy any of the open source software to use at home (and there are literally thousands of open source applications).

This is also great news for any small businesses who want to break into the software market where margins are often small. Many set top boxes and devices now contain variants of Linux for this very reason.

Obviously Microsoft do not want Linux to succeed as it threatens their monopoly on PC operating systems. They have consistently done everything in their power to try and destroy other competitors (especially Linux) by whatever legal and economic means they can.

List of anti-competitive action by Microsoft
http://www.gro klaw.net/article.php?story=20041228040645419


SOFTWARE PATENTS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Software patents are bad for the software industry, bad for freedom of choice and bad for Europe

http:// petition.eurolinux.org/reference/index_html?NO_COOKIE=true


Please, please do not vote for the ratification of software patents!

<My contact details>

---------------------[ end of letter] ------------------------

I received a hopeful reply from Gary Titley

---------------------[ start of reply] ------------------------

Leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party


GT/RF/CT-0237/05

09 March 2005

<My Name>
<My email address>





Dear Mr <My Name>,

Thank you for your e-mail of 7th March about software patents.

As you rightly point out, there is a considerable difference in the position the European Parliament took at first reading on this issue and the stance adopted by the European Council. At the end of the day, though, this directive can only become law if it is approved in identical terms by both the Council and the Parliament. Clearly we are some way from that at the moment.

To try and clarify the current situation, the Parliament has asked the European Commission to come before it in Strasbourg this week and make a statement. If and when this happens, I will write to you again with the details.



Yours faithfully

Gary Titley MEP

---------------------[ end of reply] ------------------------

So at least there is at least one MEP who understands that the democratic process has not been completed. Whether he (or his collegues) will be for or against software patents is unknown. Let us hope that software patents might get a bit more publicity.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Who actually decides, accountable to whom?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 06:29 AM EST
What if the danish minister clearly violated his mandate from the danish
parliament. Probably under danish law this can have nasty consequences for
him.

But what would it do to the council decision? I guess the council was not bound
to any decisions of a member parliament, only to what the present ministers
said...

So from the danish perspective he acted (if he indeed did) illegally, but from
the EU perspective he created facts. Which weighs stronger?

Daniel Pfeiffer <occitan@esperanto.org>

[ Reply to This | # ]

US has "First Amendment" protection of computer languages, "does" the EU?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 06:31 AM EST
I haven't found the case yet, but my comp sci professor is lecturing on software
patents. And he said that there have been cases where protection computer
programming is covered the the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, because
computer programming is a language.

If that expression of programming is protected by the 1st Amendment, one could
express a similiar idea in code that is not the same (copyright). So then Open
Source exists here, although with some restriction (maybe by fear of lawsuits?)
Am I correct the EU does not have a constitution yet? Should we not wait till we
have one in the EU that we should debate on software patents? The EU does not
have a US First Amendment? If the EU would want to adopt US style patents, then
they should adopt a US style First Amendment. And should the EU not wait on
software patents since the US system is "broken" regarding software?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reactions in Denmark to EU Council Vote
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 08:33 AM EST

Looks like a new lucrative business is starting to see some light in the E.U.

Buy a law

European Anti-Software Patent Bribe Pledge Drive - Contribute a bribe

[ Reply to This | # ]

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