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It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:36 AM EDT

Bloomberg News tells us how it went, but the short version is, the directive on software patents was rejected:

The European Parliament rejected a law on patents for software, ending a three-year effort by companies including Nokia Oyj and Siemens AG to counter U.S. domination of Europe's $60 billion market.

The parliament in Strasbourg, France, today voted 648 to 14 to throw out a draft law protecting inventions that combine software and machinery, such as code that reduces battery consumption on mobile phones. The assembly opposed U.S.-style limits on free software and ruled out a compromise with European Union governments, which endorsed the legislation in March.

"We buried a bad law and did so without flowers,'' said Eva Lichtenberger, an Austrian member of the parliament's Green group. "The legislation would have hindered the development of small companies and helped big businesses because they are the only ones that can afford patent lawyers and litigation costs.''

More coverage: - German - Danish

Of course, this is not the end.

After the vote the EU Commission said it would respect the vote and would not put forth "any new proposed legislation in this area", according to Reuters.

There are hints that the next chapter will be an attempt to pass the so-called "Community" patent. Talk about Orwellian-newspeak. Here's the plan:

Lawmakers including Kauppi said the rejection of the legislation should give fresh impetus to the creation of a single European system, known as the ``Community'' patent.

The British government, which took over the EU's rotating presidency for half a year on July 1, will sound out partners in the coming months about the prospect of breaking the deadlock on the Community patent, said Emma Lockwood, a spokeswoman for the U.K. Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.

A view from one FSFE blogger:

It is a great victory for the freedom fighters, and for the European people, to have prevented the adoption of a bad directive, which was the perspective just a few days ago. This was prevented by lots of behind-the-scenes last minute diplomacy, as well as by public action and publications.

But this outcome really is only second-best to the ideal solution: A good directive that definitely prohibits patents on mere ideas and algorithms, keeping open the path for innovation in Europe. What killed the directive in its current form was not a resounding "no" by parliament to the idea of software patents. Rather, it was the fact that the big conservative EPP block swung around to rejection when they saw that they would not get as much patentability as they wanted.

What does this imply for the future? Better keep those "No Software Patents" banners on your websites. The topic will be back (although probably not before the summer is over). . . . Now that the official route for legalising software patents in Europe is closed, the lobbying efforts will shift to the dark back alleys of Brussels. The public eye will find it hard to follow, as will underfunded public interest NGOs, as negotiations shift from official meeting rooms into expensive restaurants.

Nonetheless, this is a pretty good day for all of us. At least, worse has been prevented. But we will have to watch out. If we don't, the interests of a few big companies, not all of them entirely rooted in Europe, might yet prevail over the the needs of the European people.

My favorite quotation of the day, Steve Ballmer:

"There is important innovation coming out of the software industry,'' Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said in Paris today before the parliament vote. "We think that innovation needs to be protected.''

I will translate for you. I take that to mean: they would like to be protected from innovation by others.

Yesterday, when it was clear the vote would be a big No, Mark Webbink of Red Hat and others reacted with qualified satisfaction:

Thomas Vinje, a partner at the Clifford Chance law firm whose clients include Red Hat andOracle, said, "The open-source software business model would have been seriously threatened" if the tighter law was adopted. He welcomed the moves to reject the proposed directive. "Big money has lost," he said.

Europe pioneered the concept of open-source software development, and its supporters have argued that the only way for Europe to catch up with the United States in software is by nurturing the open-source movement.

"We are quite pleased with today's debate," said Mark Webbink, Red Hat's senior legal counsel, speaking from Strasbourg. "It may not be the most positive outcome, but it's a close second."

The Microsoft-Nokia folks also wanted the vote to be no, don't forget, and here is why:

"Rejection would be a wise decision because [approving the directive with the amendments] could have narrowed the scope of patenting," said Mark MacGann, director-general of the European Information Technology and Communications Association (EICTA), an industry group representing big vendors including Microsoft, Nokia and Siemens.

This way, individual countries continue to approve patents as they were before. However, they wanted EU harmonization, and they have failed. When does Microsoft not get its way? This is huge.

Would you like to see some of the lies the other side told? Here you go. It's disgusting. More mainstream opposition.

You might be interested in this statement from the Butler Group on the CIID, issued just before the vote:

The debate over the patenting of software that is currently in progress in Europe is approaching a critical stage, says Butler Group. The European Council has ignored the European Parliament's rejection of the directive, and the legislation, promoted by the Council as the Directive over the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions (CII), faces the councils' vote of approval in the European Parliament today. If approved, it would mean an EU-wide patent protection scheme for any computer-based invention.   

"Thus far, the EU Council has taken a rose tinted view of patent practice in the U.S.," says Michael Azoff,* Senior Research Analyst with Butler Group, Europe's leading IT research and advisory organisation. "It is attempting to push Europe in the same direction, serving the interest of some large multi-nationals but at the expense of what is beneficial for European society. The U.S. model of software patents, driven as it is by opportunism, represents a serious threat to innovation. There are no economic advantages to be gained through software patents, only a greater power vested in companies that can afford to battle daily in courts, supported by teams of patent lawyers."

Here are three press releases, the FFII press release, then Free Software Foundation Europe, and then EICTA, and then the Rocard speech to Parliament:



Parliament says No to Software Patents

Strasbourg, 6 July 2005 -- The European Parliament today decided by a large majority of 648 votes to reject the directive "on the patentability of computer implemented inventions", also known as the software patent directive. This rejection was the logical answer to the Commission's refusal to restart the legislative process in February and the Council's unwillingness to take the will of the European Parliament and national parliaments into account. The FFII congratulates the European Parliament on its clear "No" to bad legislative proposals and procedures.

This is a great victory for those who have campaigned to ensure that European innovation and competitiveness is protected from monopolisation of software functionalities and business methods. It marks the end of an attempt by the European Commission and governmental patent officials to impose detrimental and legally questionable practises of the European Patent Office (EPO) on the member states. However the questions created by this practise remain unsolved. FFII believes that the Parliament's work, in particular the 21 cross-party compromise amendments, can provide a good basis on which future solutions, both at the national and European level, can build.

Jonas Maebe, FFII Board Member, comments on the outcome of today's vote:

"This result clearly shows that thorough analysis, genuinely concerned citizens and factual information have more impact than free ice-cream, boatloads of hired lobbyists and outsourcing threats. I hope this turn of events can give some people faith again in the European decision making process. I also hope that it will encourage the Council and Commission to emulate the European Parliament to improve transparency and the ability of stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process irrespective of their size."

Hartmut Pilch, president of FFII, explains why FFII supported the move for rejection in its voting recommendations:

In recent days, the big holders of EPO-granted software patents and their MEPs, who had previously been campaigning for the Council's "Common Position", joined the call for rejection of the directive because it became clear that the 21 cross-party amendments championned by Rhoitová, Buzek, Rocard and Duff were very likely to be adopted by the Parliament. It was well noticeable that support for these amendments or a substantial part thereof was becoming the mainstream opinion in all political groups. Yet there would not have been much of a point in such a vote. We rather agree to the assessment of the situation as given by Othmar Karas MEP in the Plenary yesterday: a No was the only logical answer to the unconstructive attitude and legally questionable manuevers of the Commission and Council, by which this so-called Common Position had come about in the first place.

The FFII also wishes to thank all those people who have taken the time to contact their representatives either by email, phone or in person. We also want to thank the numerous volunteers who have given so generously of their time and energy. This is your victory as well as the Parliament's.

Background information and further news

* 21 cross-party compromise amendments [PDF]
* FFII voting recommendations for MEPs at today's plenary vote [PDF]

* Practise of the European Patent Office

* Karas speech in the plenary yesterday

* Wallstreet Journal reports prominently about Lehne's conflicts of interest

* Stay tuned to our news ticker


Here is the Free Software Europe's press release:

No software patents in Europe

Wednesday July 06, 2005 (12:30 PM GMT)

By: Free Software Foundation Europe

        Press Release - After years of struggle, the European Parliament finally rejected the software patent directive with 648 of 680 votes: A strong signal against patents on software logic, a sign of lost faith in the European Union and a clear request for the European Patent Office (EPO) to change its policy: the EPO must stop issuing software patents today.

"This outcome does not affect patents on high-tech inventions in any way," explains Stefano Maffulli, Italian representative of FSFE: "High-tech innovation has always been patentable, and even if the directive had been passed with all proposed amendmends, it would have remained patentable. It is important to point this out because the proponents of software logic patents have tried to confuse people about high-tech inventions being subject of this directive."

FSFE's president, Georg Greve adds: "The parliament understood this when it amended the directive in the first reading to keep high-tech innovation inside and software outside the patent system."

"Unfortunately, the council of the European Union ignored this decision of the Parliament and removed those amendments. Many MEPs were appalled at this obvious corruption of democratic process that day and seem to have lost faith in seeing their amendments treated with more respect this time."

"Rejection of the directive became the very last option to send a clear and strong signal against software patents in Europe," Greve continues. "The Free Software Foundation Europe commends the European Parliament on this decision: in the interest of harmonisation we would have preferred a directive along the lines of the first reading, but we understand that rejection became the last realistic option to avoid doing irreparable harm to European economy."

Jonas Öberg, vice-president of FSFE: "This reaffirms the 1973 European Patent Convention (EPC), which excludes software from patentability. The European Patent Office (EPO) has largely ignored this central convention and granted approximately 30.000 software patents in the past years: this must stop today! The EPO should not be allowed to further ignore European policies!"

Georg Greve explains the proposal of FSFE: "Much trouble was caused by the inability of the European Union to hold the European Patent Office responsible for acting against agreed-upon policies: unlike other parts of a democratic executive, the EPO is not liable for the decision it takes. We propose to establish an EPO supervision instrument that holds the EPO management liable for its decisions and prevents further patent system degradation."

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charitable non-governmental organisation dedicated to all aspects of Free Software in Europe. Access to software determines who may participate in a digital society. Therefore the Freedoms to use, copy, modify and redistribute software - as described in the Free Software definition- allow equal participation in the information age. Creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues of the FSFE. The FSFE was founded in 2001 as the European sister organisation of the Free Software Foundation in the United States.


Here is EICTA's press release:

EICTA, the industry body representing Europe's large and small high tech companies, today welcomed the European Parliament decision on the CII Patents Directive. This decision will ensure that all high tech companies in Europe continue to benefit from a high level of patent protection.

Commenting on the outcome of today's vote, Mark MacGann, Director General of EICTA, said:

"This is a wise decision that has helped industry to avoid legislation that could have narrowed the scope of patent legislation in Europe.

Parliament has today voted for the status quo, which preserves the current system that has served well the interests of our 10, 000 member companies, both large and small.

EICTA will continue to make the case throughout Europe for the contribution that CII patents make to research, innovation and to overall European competitiveness."

All the European institutions and industry have worked hard and constructively on the issue of CII patents for some time. Europe's high tech industry will support the efforts of the European institutions to find broader improvements to the European patent system that will particularly benefit the interests of smaller companies.


Rocard speech, in French:

Merci M. Le Président. M. Le président, mes chers collègues, selon toute vraisemblance, cette assemblée va dans 2 minutes, 3 minutes, rejeter le projet de directive concernant la brévetabilité des inventions assistées par ordinateur. Tous nos grands groupes, et mêmes les petits d'ailleurs pardonnez-moi, ont pris cette décision mais pour des raisons contradictoires. Je n'ai donc ici ni mandat ni qualité pour commenter ces raisons, mais il est à cette convergence une signification commune. Sur le fond du sujet, nous sommes partagés à peu près moitié-moitié, avec une imprévisibilité totale du résultat en majorité relative, et une impossibilité bilatérale d'arriver à la majorité qualifiée. Chacun de nos blocs d'opinion préfère le rejet du texte à l'adoption des opinions de l'autre. Mais il y a surtout ici une colère collective et celle-là unanime de tout le parlement contre la manière inadmissible dont il a été traité par la Commission et le Conseil. (applaudissements) Mépris total, (applaudissements) mépris total voire sarcastique des choix fait par ce Parlement en première lecture, abscence totale de toute consultation de la part de la Commission dans la rédaction du projet de texte pour la deuxième lecture, tentatives répétées d'empêcher même le débat entre gouvernements au Conseil lui-même.

Dans le principe, c'est déja scandaleux. La crise que l'Europe traverse aujourd'hui comporte largement sa part d'insuffisances démocratiques. Le conseil a là une responsabilité écrasante qu'il a particulierement manifesté dans ce dossier. Que ce rejet lui serve de leçon. Pour la substance (applaudissements) Pour la substance, l'état de l'opinion telle que nous la représentons ici montre bien que le problème n'est pas mûr. C'est donc justement l'approfondissement du débat qui aurait permis d'arriver par maturation à plus de consensus. Sur ce sujet essentiel; quelques dizaines de milliards de dollars annuels d'enjeux et pourtant très difficile, une prise de conscience collective est à l'évidence en train de se faire.

Le rejet est à cet égard un message à l'Office Européen des Brevets. Le Parlement Européen a refusé de légaliser les récentes dérives de jurisprudence pour élargir le champ de la brevetabilité à certains logiciels. Si ces dérives devaient continuer, il parait clair qu'une majorité parlementaire émergerait alors pour les endiguer.

Merci mes chers collègues.


It's a NO! - 648 - 14 | 226 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: greyhat on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:42 AM EDT
The way Bloomberg seems to describe it, this is a travesty. Those evil MEPs
voted down the law that would save Europe from America... Or maybe I'm just in
the habit of detecting a little bias everywhere :)

Give me the knowledge to change the code I do not accept, the wisdom not to
accept the code I cannot change, and the freedom to choose my preference.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Good news (ish)
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:43 AM EDT
Both sides are spinning this as a victory, and both are partly right.

This is much better than a bed directive (i.e. the "common" position)
but not as good as adopting the directive with amendments supporting the Rocard
position which would have clearly outlawed software patents.

As it stands we still have the confusing situation of varying software patent
rules across the EU and the pro-patent lobby can press individual member states
to act.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't think we WANT corrections on this one ;-)
Authored by: cheros on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:43 AM EDT

= Ch =

[ Reply to This | # ]

Harmonize US
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:44 AM EDT
One of the articles I read was the supporters of software patents were trying to
spin this into a simple harmonization effort.

I believe it best for all concerned if the United States harmonized with the
European system of patents.

Call your congressmember.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic Here Please...
Authored by: Acrow Nimh on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:44 AM EDT
and make 'em clickable....

Supporting Open Sauce since 1947 ;¬)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:48 AM EDT
With all the talk about finding language that explicitly rejects patents on
"pure software", and efforts to make it read as such (no pun
intended), wouldn't a vote against it actually be taking sides with the
pro-software patent companies? Surely the existing fragmented and uncertain
situation is better for them than an outright ban emerging...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:49 AM EDT

Everyone spin around in their swivel chairs three times in celebration

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Yippie!!! - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:50 AM EDT
    • Yes! - Authored by: Morosoph on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 08:35 PM EDT
  • Yippie!!! - Authored by: jturner on Friday, July 08 2005 @ 08:14 PM EDT
Let my voice join everyone else
Authored by: Joss the Red on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:52 AM EDT
When I say Yippie! Oh, and "About Time!"

I don't even play a lawyer on TV.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Here
Authored by: belzecue on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:54 AM EDT

... who is this Orwell of whom you speek? :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: griffith on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:55 AM EDT
This is not the best possible outcome (which would've been an amended directive)
but it'll do the trick.
The huge majority is the result of fear: The opponents of software patents
feared the unamended directive while the proponents feared the amended one, so
they banded together to kill the whole beast.
This means we fall back to the previous legislation which is somewhat ambiguous
and is, in essence, ignored by the European Patent Office. However, this is not
a catastrophe since enforcing those patents is very hard since you depend on the
courts of the various memberstates. The whole Polish administration including
their Patent officials (and probably their judges) strictly oppose software
patents. Likewise, in Germany, the Bundesgerichtshof (somewhat similar to the
Surpreme Court in the US) ruled that patents have to be tied to ``controllable
forces of nature'' (now you know where that proposal came from) thus ruling out
Thus the EPO may still grant patents but enforcing them will be very hard
(though just getting them granted may be enough for the bean counters in the big
companies so they can gloat over their vast ``Intellectual Property'' in the
stock markets).

Anyway, this is mostly a win for the good guys. Thanks again to the FFII and
everyone else who helped and supported this fight. Keep up the good work.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How much of this is a Power Struggle?
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 11:57 AM EDT
Watching this from the US much of this looks like a power struggle between the
Commission and the Parliament. Parliament wanted to modify the law, the
Commission refused and then tried to force it through. Parliament rebelled,
resulting the very lopsided vote. Since some of these members must have voted
for it the first time, nothing else explains the margin of victory. No news
reports I saw even suggested this kind of margin.

Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Oh, PJ, you could've given me a warning...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:02 PM EDT
...about that link to the article by Tomasz Teluk (ref. 'Lies').

Sheesh, I've inadvertently given another web-hit to a creature sure to spout
horns-n-tail anytime shortly - and that's just for the attempt at stirring some
European brand of McCarthyism...

;-) *pnd* (you know where to find me)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Big day for Britain and Europe
Authored by: N. on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:10 PM EDT
2012 Olympics won, software patents beaten (for now)...

(Now almost completely Windows-free)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Biggest Victory Is For The Protesters
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:13 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

I will simply point out that the big corporations are finding out the
"hippie" FOSS community has teeth. Sharp ones, in multiple rows.

Remember PJ's post when this was coming. She said it was almost certain to
pass. As a veteran political watcher, I knew the name of the game--Don't Give
Up. PJ knew it, too. She kept everyone updated. And look what happened. The
FOSS community kept up the pressure, and the result was not just a victory, but
a landslide.

Make no mistake: this is a war going on. It's a war for control. M$ and the
others have money and the politicians ears, but the people have the politicians'
jobs. And when they see that many people watching what they do, they react like
Mel Brooks in "Blazing Saddles"--"We've got to protect our phoney
balooney jobs, men!"

So the biggest victory goes to FFII and those like it. When told, "Don't
even bother, we hold all the aces," they stayed in the game. And what do
you know--a trump card came up.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

"Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is
where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my
friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future. "
"Plan 9 From Outer Space"

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:15 PM EDT
PJ wrote "Would you like to see some of the lies the other side told?"
-- link following. I don't think you call this "lies"; it's polemical,
talking about some people and their backgrounds, instead of the issues

[ Reply to This | # ]

Free Software Foundation Europe statement
Authored by: marbux on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:17 PM EDT

Retired lawyer

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Clicky - Authored by: lifewish on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:38 PM EDT
    • Curious - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 08:30 PM EDT
Good News/Bad News - It's a draw!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:22 PM EDT
First of all, no directive is better than the version the
council came up with. And since the parliament couldn't
come up with a majority for the version from the first
reading nor the council version this was the best
possible solution /under the circumstances/ *for both

The problem however remains. There are still 30.000
illegal patents on software waiting to be legalised at a
later moment (possibly in five years under a new
parliament?!) and the EPO can continue with their partners
in crime to /violate/ against current laws (talking about
"intellectual violence", ey Mr. Tomasz "FUD" Teluk from
TCS! @Pam: this article is indeed DISGUSTING, written
vomit of the Internet...).

It's of the utmost importance that lobbying on our side
must continue to disrupt the FUD and utter lies of the
other side. We must now force the EPO to abide current law
and destroy the illegal patents. We must interest an even
wider range of the public in Europe that this fight ain't
over, it's simply starting all over again.

We must show the public how the other side has constantly
lied when they claimed they do not want patents on
software (only on computer implemented inventions). We
must show the public how the other side tried to fake
their affiliation with SMEs. We must show the public that
the other side acted against the natural interests of
Europe, the majority of European companies and European
citizens. We must show the public that the other side
tried to legalise what has been created by braking the

[ Reply to This | # ]

I think MS is the big loser here...
Authored by: Bas Burger on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:38 PM EDT
They really needed this patent directive to gain momentum on FOSS coming years
to help pushing their longhorn product while attacking FOSS.

Now we in the FOSS camp have a few years to increase the weight of usage and
popularity, especially on government level. This will make our camp more
important and powerfull, hopefully enough to have patentability of software
without an invention abolished in the next text of the patent directive.



[ Reply to This | # ]

An Error
Authored by: Simon G Best on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:38 PM EDT

Of course, this is not the end.

Techworld says this is what is next:

The legislative process doesn't end with Parliament's vote. The Council then has three months to consider Parliament's amendments. It can accept them, or choose by unanimous vote to reject them. If it rejects them, Parliament and the Council would enter a special process designed to broker an agreement, called conciliation, and if this failed to produce a deal, the directive would be abandoned.

That was if the Parliament amended the draft Directive, which it did not. The Directive was rejected (Hooray!), so that conciliation stuff doesn't happen now. It's finished (unless the Council/Commission decide to start all over again (which they've said they won't)).


FOSS IS political. It's just that the political establishment is out of touch and hasn't caught up.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hooray! But It's Not The End
Authored by: Simon G Best on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 12:54 PM EDT


But it's not the end. I think we can be quite confident that there is more to be done. For starters, we don't have the Directive we wanted, which would have clarified things properly and turned back the tide.

With things as they currently stand, it's generally accepted/believed that there's a significant lack of clarity on what the status quo is supposed to be. That's something that software patent proponents, etc, may still seek to take advantage of. It's also clear that some patent offices, such as the UK Patent Office, interpret the existing law(s) as pretty much allowing software patents (though, perhaps, with some qualifications and conditions, such as the need for so-called 'technical effects'). That means that in some parts of the EU, dubious patents can still, potentially, be used in pursuit of out-of-court settlements for alleged infringements, etc.

But today's result does show that when we come together (and I don't just mean FOSS, but software/computer people generally), and actively engage with our political representatives, we really can have a significant - and positive - impact on how things turn out.

FOSS IS political. It's just that the political establishment is out of touch and hasn't caught up.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: Chris Lingard on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 01:02 PM EDT

Here is the link to a pres s release from parliament. Since it is so short I have copied it below.

There will not be any EU legislation on the computer-implemented invention. On Wednesday, the European Parliament rejected, by 648 votes to 14 with 18 abstentions, the so-called software patent directive, putting an end to a passionate three year debate.

Before the vote, rapporteur Michel ROCARD (PES, FR) said Parliament was split fifty-fifty on the issue and all political groups decided to reject the text rather than risk a result they could not accept. He added: "There is collective anger throughout the Parliament because of the way the directive was handled by the Commission and the Council," recalling the contested approval of the common position. He said the vote is a clear invitation to the Commission and the Council to show full respect to the EP in future. He concluded that "this legislation is not mature for adoption."

Commissioner Benita FERRERO-WALDNER reacted to the vote by saying that without the directive, patents on computerised inventions will continue to be granted by national offices and by the European Patent Office, with no harmonisation and thus allowing possible different interpretations of the rules.

During the debate on Tuesday, Commissioner Joaquín ALMUNIA told MEPs: "Should you decide to reject the common position, the Commission will not submit a new proposal." Attention now moves to the proposed directive for a Community patent, currently in discussion in the Council, mentioned by a number of MEPs as the appropriate legislative instrument to address the issue of software patentability.

According to the co-decision rules, today's negative vote means the end of the legislative procedure and the fall of the directive.

The common position, if approved, would have allowed patenting of computer-implemented inventions. This outcome was advocated by big software firms, which argued that patents would encourage research spending and defend European inventions from US competition. On the contrary, the directive was criticised by supporters of "open source" software, mainly smaller companies, who claimed copyright already protects their inventions and were afraid that patenting would raise legal costs.

It is the Commissions responsibility to suggest legislation, yet they refuse to do anything. Unless they get all their own way, they will not play. It is not the job of the Council or Parliament to initiate law.

I think that this proves that Europe's only future is with elected representatives like Parliament. It is time for the Commission to resign, or get kicked out; and the whole system reformed. It would also be a good thing if they sorted out their budget, so that the books balance.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Bittorrent link to the EP press conference
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 01:08 PM EDT

Bittorrent link to video of the EP press conference after the vote: SW_patents__EP_press_conference.335296 0.TPB.torrent (AVI file (DIVX), 48 minutes).

It's very interesting because it shows that the MEPs really know what this is all about and most of them have a position surprisingly similar to the FFII!
Josep Borrell (EP President) and Michel Rocard (MEP) speak very clearly about what's wrong with software patents, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, Microsoft, etc.

Unfortunately the first 4 minutes are only translated in Italian, but all the important things are in English.

Please after completing the download continue to seed as long as possible.

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It's a NO! But to the commission.
Authored by: François Battail on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 01:20 PM EDT

First I would like to congrat the FFII and all the people, including MEPs, for working hard to understand the importance and implications of the "CII" best known as software patents.

I'm happy that MEPs gave a strong signal to the EC because it wasn't a democratic debat. But I'm sad as it is a complete failure to establish a new law for patents, which is something needed to enforce the idea that pure software could not be patented.

Today, when electronic devices need to be modified it's very often a matter of firmware. The separation between software and hardware is sometimes difficult to establish, in french we have the neologism "magiciel" which is very hard to translate : "magicware?", meaning that hardware and software are not enough accurate terms now.

The EP has made a very good work trying to define what is the frontier between pure software and an invention in which software can participate to produce physical effects. But, even if it's not a perfect definition it's essential to exclude from patentability at least file storage formats, communication protocols and trivial information processing.

Now, since it's not the end of the story, it would be a very good thing if we could came with a good definition of what may be patented without hurting interoperability and FOSS, and to protect true inventions according to the european definition of patents.

As I'am a developper, I don't support software patents of course, but I believe there's a no man's land in which software is involved but not alone in the whole process and could be truely patented in the spirit of the law.

BTW forgive my bad english (I'm french) ;-)

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Thanks to Norbert Bollow
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 01:51 PM EDT
While we are passing out congratulations we should include Norbert Bollow for
his work in organizing the thank Poland petition. Thank you Norbert.

Steve Stites

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Rocard's Speech, in English
Authored by: Carlo Graziani on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 02:34 PM EDT
Might need a little tweaking, but I think the translation is largely correct.

Thank you Mr. President, Mr. president, dear colleagues, in all likelihood this assembly will within the next two or three minutes reject the directive concerning the patentability of computer-assisted inventions. All our large parliamentary groupings, and even the smaller ones, have made this decision for a variety of contradictory reasons. I have neither a mandate nor the ability to comment on these reasons, but the convergence of the outcome reveals a common underlying meaning. Each block prefers to reject the text rather than acquiesce in the opinions of the other. But above all, there is here a common and near-unanimous anger of this Parliament against the inadmissible manner in which it has been treated by the Commision and the Council [applause]. Contempt, [applause] total and sarcastic contempt for the choices made by this Parliament in the first reading, total absence of consultation on the part of the Commission in the preparation of the text for the second reading, and efforts to squelch even government-to-government debate within the Council itself.

This is in itself a scandal. The current European crisis is largely caused by democratic inadequacy. The council bears a crushing responsibility for this inadequacy, which has been particularly in evidence in the case at hand. Let this rejection serve it as an object lesson[applause]. Insofar as the substance of this debate is concerned, the state of opinion represented here demonstrates that the issue is not ripe for resolution. A deepening of the debate would have been essential to arrive at a consensus. On this difficult but essential subject, with dozens of billions of dollars at stake, a collective rethinking is evidently underway.

In a sense, this rejection should be regarded as a message to the European Patent Office. The European Parliament has refused to ratify the recent administrative extensions of jurisprudence directed at liberalizing the patentability of software. If these extensions should continue, it appears clear that a parliamentary majority will emerge to put a stop to them.

Thank you, dear colleagues.

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Symbolic pictures
Authored by: James Heald on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 02:58 PM EDT

In the waters off the Parliament building yesterday:

The sinister white C4C motor launch with its anonymous blacked out windows
The intrepid FFII kayakers in their canoes.

The choice is yours.

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UKPO reaction
Authored by: James Heald on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 03:07 PM EDT was becoming increasingly likely that any text emerging from the European Parliament was likely to be either unworkable, or would move away from the original aim of maintaining the status quo...

(from the official UKPO Press Release).

Given that sort of intransigence, rejection was ultimately the only possible good outcome.

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kudos EU ! Let's take some notes.
Authored by: vruz on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 05:31 PM EDT
Great news, made my day.

Now, it's time to think where the next battlefield will be.
At least there are some hints:

* Nokia, a company who has being recently touting their Linux phone was fighting
for patentability of software.
This makes them sort of an european Sun Microsystems, a two-face organisation
that reminds me of Harvey Dent. (fictitious lawyer in the comics)

* If those ardent 14 that voted in favour of patentability had vested interest
in it, they'll continue to have that interest tomorrow.
Is there a way to know who emitted these votes and see what companies are they
related to ?

Sharpen your pencils guys !

--- the vruz

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a few words from ESR on the vote
Authored by: seanlynch on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 05:57 PM EDT

A few words from ESR on the vote.

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Authored by: m_si_M on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 06:32 PM EDT
As of this moment (00:30 CET), the article on counts no less than 7,235
(!) comments on the topic. Seems like a new record for me. How's it looking at
other news sites of choice?

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Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 07:18 PM EDT
Remember how important it is that patent policies are harmonised worldwide?

Well, right now I fear Europe has an enormous competitive advange over the US
due to their no-software-patents position -- in europe a company can feel safe
making software, in the US only armies of lawyers can make software.

I think now is the time to use this point to start lobbying to harmonise the
US's policies with Europe's so as to help the US remain competitive in this
important market.

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It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 07:45 PM EDT
Rocard's speech is interesting. He says it's more a vote against the commission
itself rather than against patents.

He says the vote was driven by anger of the parlementarians at the way they were
completely ignored several times by the commission and treated with complete
contempt. "Let that be a lesson for them!" he says and he points out
that Europe is seen by many as undemocratic and this behaviour (by the
commission) is typical of the problem and it is a "scandal".

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It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: digger53 on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 07:49 PM EDT
Very good.

When all else fails, follow directions.

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It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 08:52 PM EDT
"I will translate for you. I take that to mean: they would like to be
protected from innovation by others."

I read it to mean, Free/Open Source is innovating, and that needs protecting.

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Tomasz Teluk
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 07 2005 @ 12:16 AM EDT
"is a Fellow in the Adam Smith Center in Warsaw..."

Perhaps, he will trouble himself to read Smith someday. And recommend the
experience to his collegues.

Bet they refuse to inhale.

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There's a party going on on
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 07 2005 @ 01:21 AM EDT
Just have a quick loock at t his link. As heise did a great job in reporting every move and aspect of the development of the EU Patent funeral the registered users at heise are expressing their relief by 'misusing' the scoring system.

Normally the green score stands for an interresting topic.However this one is special in that every contribution is awarded with a green bar. Even some guys who aked for red as a sign for positive agreement failed dramatically. I am pretty sure that even a statement like "SCO are the good guys" will be awarded with green as well.

If you have a minor knowledge of the German language (or some excercise with babelfish) pls. feel free to join the party here.


Be ing greeeeeeeeeeen ...

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Best defense is the attack
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 07 2005 @ 03:13 AM EDT
One of our best defenses is to get a more widespread (and preferrably, very
visible) adoption of Open Source software in the EU countries.

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Full voting record here...
Authored by: seantellis on Thursday, July 07 2005 @ 05:35 AM EDT

Voting record for this week [PDF, 1.5MB]. This vote is on pages 4 and 5.

Sean Ellis (

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It's a NO! - 648 - 14
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 08 2005 @ 05:38 AM EDT
If you work for a company and think you could get them to make a statment against software patents h is still looking for more companies to sign up. I am still betting that this is not over, the legal minds and lobbiests are just trying to find a new way to get it through.

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