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Transcript of EU Commission Meeting on Software Patent Directive
Monday, March 07 2005 @ 09:57 PM EST

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 The biggest question on the table is, why didn't Denmark ask that the A-Item be withdrawn, instead of folding to Luxembourg's interpretation?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 important directive.

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 the Parliament.

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 various sides.

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 compromise.

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.

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