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Poland Gets a Week's Delay on EU SW Patents
Monday, January 24 2005 @ 08:03 AM EST

Once again, Poland has blocked the rubber-stamping of the software patents directive in Europe. There is, however, only a week's delay, to January 31, and then it comes up again. However, it gets harder and harder to pretend that this directive is so uncontroversial it belongs as an A item, meaning no discussion, just rubber-stamping. And a lot can happen in a week. The battleground now is over the restart process, as the FFII page points out.

The reason for that is this, I'm told by Jan Wildeboer of FFII:

"All our efforts are now towards restart in the European Parliament. The delay (even if only one week) now gives us time till 21st of February to get the restart started.

"Why? Quite simple. A restart can be initiated until the adopted directive is announced in the Parliament. That can only be done at a plenary session. The next plenary session is at 26/27 January. Due to the delay that one is not reachable.

"So when they adopt next week, they can annouce it in EU-Parliament at the next session which will be on 21/22 February.

"As soon as a restart process is initiated the announcement in the parliament is not possible anymore.

"But this is also vice-versa. If the restart is *not* initiated till 21st of February and the Council gets it adopted next week and it gets announced on the 21st in Parliament there is no way to initiate the restart anymore.

OK, so what I understand is that a restart can be initiated only prior to an adopted directive being announced in the Parliament. That can only be done at a plenary session. The next plenary session is January 26 and 27. Due to the week's delay, the pro software lobby has lost that opportunity. Thank you, Poland. However, if they adopt the directive next week, they can annouce it in Parliament at the next session on February 21 and 22.

But if there is a restart process initiated before that announcement, it blocks any announcement in the Parliament.

But it cuts both ways. If there is no restart initiated before the 21st of February and the council gets it adopted next week and it gets announced on the 21st in Parliament, there is no way to initiate the restart anymore. So both sides are going to be working on the timing.

EU politics is hard for this colonist, and I hope I explained it correctly. Here are the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, including the restart process. What I do get is that the secret, behind-the-scenes rubber-stamping is not possible to carry out in the dark now. It's in the open and everyone is watching. My favorite translated sentence from the German article:

The European Hightech branch federation EICTA, to which companies belong such as Microsoft, Nokia, SAP or Siemens, reacted disappointed to the time extension.

I'm told both Heise and FFII will have articles in English later today, and the mayor of Munich is expected to speak about this later today also.

UPDATE: Here is the article in Heise in English now, and it has plenty of news on what various groups are gearing up to try to accomplish next, and it ends like this:

"In other words, the official adoption of the paper has once again been postponed unless there is some last-minute attempt within the Council this Monday to have the measure voted on. It remains unclear whether Luxembourg, which holds the presidency in the Council, will have another go at adopting the directive at the next meeting of ministers in a week. At any rate, the EU Parliament should have time to come to a consensus on whether to start the entire process over again by the time its plenary session begins on February 21."

Here is an article from the newspaper De telegraaf in the Netherlands for those of you who can read it for us. I'm told it says, "EU Chairman Luxemburg could not say when the decision is to be expected." Here is what Sherlock does with it:

The decision would be taken Monday in the fork of a meeting of agriculture ministers. There however still insufficient agreement proved to be. The patent on software is considerably controversial. Small It-bedrijven fear in knel coming because large American commit on a lot of astutenesses patent request. Bedrijfjes must will pay for that considerably. It would obstruct the renewal of software.

At a similar meeting in December Poland blocked a decision. Much small It-bedrijven house the country. Also the European Parliament is not enthusiastic. Eu-voorzitter Luxembourg could not yet say when the decision again to expect is.

I'm sure MathFox can help us, or feel free to improve the translation. I can catch the drift however. They are mighty unhappy. And so are "large American commit on a lot of astuteness patent request" folks.

Update: MathFox comes through:

Brussels - On Monday, the EU countries have postponed a decision on introducing software patents again. A spokesman of current EU-chair Luxemburg announced it Monday.

The decision would be taken Monday in the margin of a meeting of agriculture ministers. There still was insufficient agreement. Patents on software are considerably controversial. Small IT-companies fear to be squeezed because large American companies have applied for patents on a lot of ideas. Small companies will pay for that considerably. It would obstruct innovation in software.

At a similar meeting in December Poland blocked a decision. The country houses many small IT-companies. Also the European Parliament is not enthusiastic. EU-chairman Luxembourg could not yet say when the decision is to be expected again.


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