Groklaw's AdamBaker has been kind enough to do a quick, rough translation of the audio that FFII made available of the EU Commission meeting that ended up passing the software patent directive as an A-Item. See the previous article for background. If any of you see refinements/corrections that need to be made, please offer them. But this will certainly give you a picture of the overview. The biggest question on the table is, why didn't Denmark ask that the A-Item be withdrawn, instead of folding to Luxembourg's interpretation? I also note that the Chairman thinks the debate is between business and end users. The real issue is not that simple.
There are many GNU/Linux businesses that are opposed to software patents. Red Hat is one example. To say that there needs to be a compromise so the rights of businesses and end users are each respected, as he did, is to misunderstand the real issue here, which is that millions of people -- and businesses that sell to them -- depend upon GNU/Linux software and don't want Microsoft or any proprietary software bullies to try to shut down FOSS development by using flimsy patent infringement lawsuits, empowered by bad law, as an anticompetitive weapon. What is at stake is the future of FOSS, nothing less.
Chairman (Luxembourg's Minister): [inaudible] We shall pass this up to the EP with a view to negotiation for final adoption of this very
We shall transmit it today or tomorrow so that the Parliament can start working on it immediately
and so that there is no delay between our decision being made here and the beginning of work in
May I conclude that with all delegations such as Spain which is voting against, Austria, Belgium
and Italy who are abstaining, can I take it that all delegations can accept the joint composition
and the accompanying explanatory memorandum as set out in the documents before us? Can the
Council also accept including in the minutes the statement made by the Commision as well as
statements made by the Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Dutch, Polish and Danish delegations I
think as they will be set out [sic] document before you?
And we also have a statement on the part of Cyprus.
However I would just like to add two words, a few words on this point about the formalities of
adopting it, and I say this without wishing to reopen the debate today. We are all well aware of
the situation we are faced with and the doubts which have been expressed on this matter on
We are adopting this common position today for institutional reasons and so as not to create a
precedent which might have the consequence of creating further delays in a very difficult
legislative process, which is a decision the Commision has taken of its own responsibities and we
thank the Commission for that.
I know a number of members including some of those I mentioned, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, would
have preferred the point we are dealing with here to be the subject of a B point discussion.
Our Council was not able to accept that. You may tell me that is a bad start for a presidency but
there are procedures we have to respect, and it would have imnplied undermining the whole logic of
the exercise as provided for under the procedures and which we have to conduct and by adopting
this as an A point. Any procedural decision would have [inaudible] second reading by the European
Parliament, and as I said when I appeared before the Commission for Legal Affairs of the Parliament
in January, it would be appropriate for the institutions to find an area of understanding, a
compromise which recognises the legitimate right expressed both by the business world and
users. It is not up to me today to sketch out all the various possibilities for compromise which
could be found in the substance in the months to come as it is quite clear that certain clarifications
will have to be made with respect to what we've just seen as being legal uncertainty in the
current Council decision.
I had indicated that I did not want a substantive discussion on this, but I did want to underline
these few points which demonstrate that the presidency and the Council have taken note of the
concern expressed by a number of countries who have stated that they wish to see a different
There you are. I would not like to have any substantive discussion at this point. It is an A point
as far as the procedure is concerned.
Ben has asked me for the floor.
Denmark's Minister: Well, you know Denmark's wish is to see this proposal on the patenting of Computer Implemented
Inventions, we'd like to see this treated at this Council meeting as a B point. I have noted your
comments to the effect that you cannot accept that in so far as this is only the formal
confirmation of political agreement found in May last year, so the matter can go to the European
Parliament. I nonetheless think that the most appropriate thing would be to take the matter as a
B point, but if this is not possible I'm not going to stand in the way of the formal adoption of
the point. I will therefore regretfully submit a written statement to be included in the minutes.
The points in that statement will be pursued by us when this comes back to the council after the
European Parliament has concluded its second reading.
Thank You, Chairman.
Chairman: Thank You. I take note of your statement, and I thank you for your comments.
So, I think I can note. [Pause] Somebody doesn't want me to speak. They keep switching me off.
I'd like to invite the Council to adopt the other points on the list of A points.
I am informed that the headline should read that it was a meeting of the EU Council, specifically a meeting of the Competetiveness Council, see here.