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Deja Vu in the EU - Monday They Will Try to Rubber Stamp Software Patents. Yes. Again
Friday, January 21 2005 @ 05:15 AM EST

Believe it or not, they are trying the same trick again that Poland blocked in December to try to push software patents down the throats of an unwilling populace in Europe.

FFII has put out a press release that begins like this:

The EU Software Patent Directive has been or will be scheduled on the agenda of the Agriculture and Fishery Meeting of the 24th of January as an A item, i.e. an item that is to be adopted without a vote. This was announced today by officials of the European Commission and of the EU Council Presidency at various meetings. The entry is not on the official meeting calendar yet.

Heise has the news as well:

According to statements by members of the government of Luxembourg and the EU Commission the Ministers of Agriculture in their meeting of the EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries on Monday are to give the nod to the controversial position of the EU Council of Ministers on the Directive on the Patentability of "computer-implemented inventions".

So. Monday. It's back to Go. They say they will place the Directive' COM 2002/0047 (COD) "On the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions" (Software Patent Directive on the list of items and then, presto, software patents are accepted despite all the clear evidence that the majority don't want them. There are more details on FFII's site.

I must say, dealing with patent-pushing politicians in Europe must be like trying to fight off the ghouls in the Night of the Living Dead. Worse, actually. At least the ghouls weren't sneaky. They came straight at you.

Here is the FFII press release, which I am reproducing so you will have access to all the links they provide. I think this is a better link to Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, a member of the Commission, from Ireland. On his website you find these quotes:

"You will find me ready to meet, discuss, listen and argue on how best to deliver to our citizens the real benefits of an Internal Market. There are enormous challenges facing the EU in the coming period on which we all must find common ground. I want our policies to show that EU means something real and positive to the people in Europe"

"We must be smart and not be dogmatic. I want consumers to be well-protected and I also want them to enjoy the benefits stemming from the free circulation of goods and services."

"I am determined to have Member States take greater ownership of the Internal Market. It is after all their Internal Market and that of their citizens and businesses. It is not the Commission's."

You can hear an old speech he gave last October here, where the quotations come from, if you like to get the measure of a man by hearing his voice. His press spokesman's contact info is here, not that he is likely to change his position. In the speech he says he is known to be stubborn, and just because he listens, it doesn't mean he'll change his mind.

Here is more on David Ellard, a page explaining his pro-"harmonization" views. I gather he is leading the end run to try to make it happen on Monday. There's a sentence on his web page that not even my English-teacher grandma could parse:

The proposed Directive has followed this approach. It will not make it possible to patent ‘computer programs as such’, but it will ensure that computer-implemented inventions are patentable - consistent with general patent practice.

I'm not a political person, and I have no experience at it, but just reporting such news on Groklaw has led me to the conclusion that when a politician says something you can't parse, it may just mean he isn't being altogether forthcoming with you. If you can make sense of that sentence, you're a better man than I am. Well.

And here is the FFII press release -- note that the link they give to Ellard has contact info for him as well -- and here's a page FFII would like you to know about as well:

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

Brussels, Wednesday 19th Jan 2005 -- The EU Software Patent Directive has been or will be scheduled on the agenda of the Agriculture and Fishery Meeting of the 24th of January as an A item, i.e. an item that is to be adopted without a vote. This was announced today by officials of the European Commission and of the EU Council Presidency at various meetings. The entry is not on the official meeting calendar yet.

David Ellard, who is responsible for this directive at the European Commission's Industrial Property Unit, specially announced that the Council's political agreement on the software patent directive will be adopted as a Common Position at the Council for Agriculture and Fishery next monday, the 24th of January. Ellard told this today at an Intellectual Property promotion event organized in Slovenia. Ellard repeated the date many times at the meeting.

The same was said by Luxemburg's minister of economy and of foreign trade Jeannot Krecké at a meeting in the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament (JURI) this afternoon. It appears from this meeting that the sudden insertion into the Fishery Agenda is due to a desire of the Commission to create accomplished facts before the Parliament can initiate a restart of the procedure according to Art 55 of its Rules of Procedure. It is particularly noteworthy that David Ellard's boss, Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy, has asked JURI to postpone the discussion until after a meeting on February 2nd. At this time, JURI no longer has the option to restart the procedure, if by then the A-item is passed.

The Swedish Enterprise Association started spreading the same information already this morning, whereas the Agricultural Ministry of Sweden was unable to confirm it, saying that it was not on the Council's official Agenda so far, as is in fact is the case.

According to Article 3 of the Council's Procedural Rules, A-items should be placed on the agenda 2 weeks in advance. If an A-item is inserted later, any country can demand its removal at the beginning of the meeting. Poland made use of this right at the last Agricultural Council on December 21st.

The FFII has covered its front page with a letter to EU ministers of agriculture and is using what little time the Commission's surprise tactics leaves to launch a campaign, in which it called on its supporters to help draw attention to the matter.


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