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Denmark: SW Patent Directive as B-Item Only on Monday
Friday, March 04 2005 @ 04:49 PM EST

When I woke up, the EU Commission was all set to push for the software patent directive as an A-item on Monday. Great, I thought. What does it take to kill this Computer Implemented Inventions Directive once and for all and make it stay dead?

Now, suddenly, I hear Denmark has voted to treat the software directive as a B-item only. Here's a translation by Kristoffer of the Danish story:

Denmark to block software patents.

The Parliament of Denmark is ready to halt the proposed directive on software patents that is currently on its way through the EU system.

Only hours ago a majority in the Parliament's sub commission on European matters put pressure on the Minister of Economic and Business Affairs Bendt Bendtsen to reopen the discussion on software patents when the EU Ministers meet on Monday.

Here, the directive on software patents is listed as an A-point implying that consensus on the subject has already been reached. Poland has twice before succeeded in getting the subject removed from the list, but has now said that it will proceed more cautiously at the next meeting.

Poland's role can now be taken over by Denmark.

It's not just a resolution. It's a binding decision to vote against the current proposal as an A-item (A is the rubber stamp variety), on Monday, and they will propose that it be handled as a B-item. That's a first. Others have voted against the directive, but to my knowledge this is the first country to call for it to be a B-item. In short, some are saying there may be a restart after all.

As puts it, Poland, which said it couldn't stand alone, isn't all alone any more.

Here is the FFII story on developments. It points out that the Netherlands can now be expected to side with Denmark too:

Arda Gerkens, a Dutch MP of the Socialistische Partij who supported the Dutch motion from yesterday and who earlier on introduced several related motions in the Dutch parliament, added:

"I am very happy to see Denmark taking this step. Thanks to the motion we adopted yesterday, the Netherlands will support this move."

This last is referring to events described in this Dutch story, which Groklaw's Tako translates roughly like this:

It's what some Dutch Members of Parliament had tried to do in The Netherlands last Thursday, but that motion failed because the government didn't want to "break open" a political issue that had already been agreed upon.

But another motion was passed that said that if somebody else would ask to handle the issue as a B-item, then the Dutch representatives in the Commission would either support that motion or at least not oppose it.

It seems now that the Danish will ask to handle the patent issue as a B-item some other countries, including The Netherlands, will not oppose it or maybe will even support it.

And Niels sent us this translation from the Danish of this news story:

If just The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, and Spain back the Danish request, there will not be a qualified majority in favor of passing the direction without discussion.

"This is a victory for the democratic process in the European Union. Both in Denmark and the rest of Europe there have been a tremendous interest in this issue. IT-Political Association is ecstatic now that there is a very good chance that the all the citizens in Europe will have a chance to participate in the discussion of the directive," Ole Tange, board member in IT-Political Association says.

Honestly, this is more exciting than a tennis match.

UPDATE: Kristoffer has found another article, a portion of which he translates from the Danish for us like this:

Since several other countries have uttered their disproval of the directive, the chances of a new debate are considered good. . . .

"There is a real need for the Minister to fight for a new discussion of the directive.. . ." says IT-spokesman Morten Helveg Petersen (The Danish Social-Liberal Party) and continues "If we are not clear on crucial definitions and are unable to make sure that the patent directive ensures that software products can work together, then we really need to ask ourselves if it this is something we can support.". . .

"Hooray. That resolution is a relief," says Ole Tange, member of the board of IT-political association, which has opposed software patents for years.

"We are still generally against patents on software, but the EU parliament has put forward a proposal which more clearly defines what can and cannot be patented. It is a compromise we can live with", says Ole Tange.. . . "The proposal by the EU parliament makes clear that software which simply resides in an ordinary computer is not patentable. Software patents only cover software which - generally speaking - is part of a new type of machine. The proposal also establishes that open standards are not patentable - just as an ordinary socket outlet is not patentable, but is allowed to develop products for by many manufacturers."

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