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News from the EU Patent Front - More Tricks
Monday, June 06 2005 @ 08:44 AM EDT

Here's some news many of you will want to know about. According to an FFII's press release, there are more shenanigans going on in Europe to try to pass the software patent directive. It seems no matter how many votes are cast against software patents, the unelected friends of software patents find a way to push it through anyway.

FFII offers notes from two closed meetings of the Council Working Group on Intellectual Property. They are stunning:

~From the full report of the May 27th meeting, it is clear that Germany is taking a hardcore stance and completely ignoring the motion approved by its parliament. They think that any change proposed by the JURI Committee to the Council text is unacceptable, except for some cosmetic amendments tabled by Lehne MEP (EPP). Mr. Lehne's situation is notable in itself, since he is also ignoring the position of his national colleagues. . . .

The Netherlands' representatives similarly rejected most JURI amendments on May 27th, although State Secretary Van Gennip had promised the Parliament they would not take a position before the Parliament had been consulted.

On June 3rd they only mentioned that a position paper had been presented to the Dutch Parliament, but at the previous meeting they even expressed doubts about minor amendments such as changing the title from talking about "computer-implemented inventions" into "computer-assisted inventions", because according to them it would change the scope of the directive. . . .

Poland is at this time the only country which is consistently supporting the EP's rapporteur, Michel Rocard MEP. It did get some hesitant support from Denmark and Slovakia, as well as France in some cases.

Spain, Italy and Austria were clearly giving up during the June 3rd meeting however. Austria was following Germany. Italy even started to help inventing fake compromises, such as putting all alternatives for the term "computer-implemented invention" together into the definition articles. Spain did support a few amendments tabled by Ortega MEP, but those are a mixed bag. It is definitely not following the motion passed by its Parliament last February. . . .

Hungary is, just like Germany, a categoric opponent of any amendments to the Council text. On May 27th they claimed their experts went already through all amendments and that none of the rapporteur's amendments were acceptable, even though the Hungarian government's report on said amendments will only be finished on June 6th.

The Commission is, perhaps surprisingly, more flexible than most of the Eastern-European contingent (apart from Poland and Slovakia) and Scandinavia (apart from Denmark). They seem to be prepared to drop patent claims on computer programs on their own (so-called "program claims").

Belgium did not yet take a firm position. Luxembourg neither, except that they support an interoperability clause. Malta is for unlimited patentability, but with a proper interoperability exemption. The UK, Ireland, Portugal and Czech Republic only can accept some cosmetic amendments here and there.

The UK also referred to the results of the workshops it held on defining the term "technical contribution". It mentioned some criticism from attendees on the usage of forces of nature to limit patentability, but unsurprisingly failed to note the characterising remark about the Council definition that lawyers would "be able to drive a bus through it".




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