This just in. Poland refused to go along with the software patent rubber stamp:
"The Software Patent Directive has been withdrawn from the Agenda of the Agricultural Council. Poland's minister Marcinski requested it firmly at the beginning of the meeting. The Commissioner expressed regret, but the A-item has been deleted and will not be decided this year."
For some insight into the process, and some suggestions for going forward, you might enjoy reading Simon Phipps' commentary.
Here is the press release from NoSoftwarePatents:
BIG SURPRISE IN BRUSSELS:
EU COUNCIL TAKES SOFTWARE PATENT DIRECTIVE OFF ITS AGENDA
DURING TODAY'S MEETING, ACCOMODATING A REQUEST BY POLAND
Undersecretary Wlodzimierz Marcinski asks for additional time to prepare a
"constructive declaration" -- Software patent debate is wide open-- Software
patent critics: "The Polish government deserves greatest admiration for its
Brussels (21 December 2004). In a totally unexpected turn of events, the EU
Council took its proposal for a software patent directive off its agenda
during today's meeting. Actually the item had been slated for debateless
approval as a so-called "A" item. Polish undersecretary Wlodzimierz
Marcinski asked for additional time in order to be able to write up a
"constructive declaration". The meeting chairman accomodated the request
since no country raised objections. The EU Commission expressed its regrets
but also accepted this decision.
After the political positions of several countries had changed, the proposal
had no more qualified majority, but the Council wanted to decide on the
basis of a majority that existed on May 18th. Florian Mueller, campaign
manager of NoSoftwarePatents.com, commented: "The Polish government deserves
greatest admiration for its courage! At times it looked like the enemies of
democracy would prevail in the EU Council and force a decision that lacked a
legitimate majority. Now Europe has the opportunity to have a constructive
debate on the severe shortcomings of the current Council text, under the new
Luxembourgish EU presidency next year. Even at Christmas time, Europe has
nothing to give away -- and particularly we can't give our domestic software
markets away to a few large U.S. corporations that prefer a litigious
environment over a competitive market!"
Council Lost Qualified Majority, Wanted to Formalize Decision Regardless
On December 7th, Belgian minister of economic affairs Marc Verwilghen had
told the Belgian parliament that the "the qualified majority [for software
patents] no longer exists". The Dutch parliament had passed a resolution on
July 1st, asking its government to abstain, but the Dutch government decided
to ignore the will of its parliament. The Polish government reiterated on
November 16th that it "cannot support the current proposal" but was
pressured by the Dutch EU presidency and other countries to support the
decision. At times it looked like Poland would give in to that pressure.
Austrian conservative MEP Othmar Karas, vice president of the largest group
in the European Parliament (EPP-ED), had warned: "It would be downright
anti-democratic to adopt a proposal that has no more qualified majority on
the day of the official decision."
Several countries, including France, Hungary, Poland, Latvia and the
Netherlands, want to add statements to the Council's decision by which they
would distance themselves from the very position they voted for.
In a previous statement on www.NoSoftwarePatents.com, Linus Torvalds and
other European software developers had already denounced the Council's
current proposal as "deceptive, dangerous, and democratically illegitimate".
Last-Minute Political and Diplomatic Activity
In a flurry of last-minute activity, a small demonstration had taken place
outside of a German government building in Berlin. The mayor of Munich
yesterday contacted the German federal government and asked to reopen the
negotiations in the EU Council on the software patent directive. The city
of Munich had temporarily suspended its Linux migration project in the
summer over patent-related concerns. On November 18th, Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer had warned Asian governments that they would face patent litigation
if using the Linux operating system instead of Microsoft's Windows product.
About the NoSoftwarePatents.com Campaign
The NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign was launched on October 20th in initially
12 languages and is supported by three IT companies (1&1, Red Hat, and MySQL
AB). More information on the campaign is available on the campaign Web