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European Parliament Rejects Software Patents 357

Posted by Zonk
from the (again) dept.
heretic9 writes "The European Parliament unanimously rejected the software patent bill recently put before it. Hugo Lueders of CompTIA, a pro-patent lobby group, said that the benefits of the bill had been obscured by special interest groups, which muddied debate about the rights and wrongs of software patents." Meaning, essentially, that the Conference of Presidents got its way.
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European Parliament Rejects Software Patents

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  • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:45AM (#11710794) Homepage Journal
    Another example of the far more sensible approach our friends across the pond take to things. Even though the majority of people are citizens, not corporations, we only value the corporations when it comes time to protect "people" over here in america because they have the majority of money.
    • I don't think you can attribute this to things being more sensible over here. In this instance I think we just got lucky (or got some politicians who have figured out that patents will mainly benefit large corporations, most of whom are American)

      Cheers
      Jeremy
    • Thats just the thing. Corporations are legally entitled to all the rights of people. That is what makes them so powerful. You can't jail a corporation; indeed, the worst you can do is revoke its charter (which doesn't happen very often). Basically most corporate punishment comes down to fines, which, if not hefty enough, don't deter future misconduct.

      Read up on Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886). This is the case that defined corporations as legal people, with all the fun rights we enjoy.

      IMO, a constitutional amendment to revoke such rights is in order. I do recall presidential candidates David Cobb (Green), and Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) calling for those rights to be eliminated. Cobb asked for a constitutional amendment, but Badnarik did not endorse an amendment outright.
      • that is, the root of all evil left over after organized religion has taken it's majority share.
        • by giampy (592646) on Friday February 18, 2005 @11:48AM (#11712254) Homepage
          Well both organizations deal with power, since money is today the most effective representation of power, while religion and access-to-gods has been "the" power for a long time.

          One thing that people/organizations in power do, is try to get even some more power, which helps in getting even more power later on, which at the end destablizes the social system in one way or another.

          In fact, concentration of power into too few hands is the single most important reason why manysocial systems collaped in the past. Examples are everywhere. From the roman empire to the middle aged church-state, form the indian 4000 old castes-based system, (in which not surprisingly the priests become the dominant caste), to even the soviet so called "social" system ...

          We as humans need to learn from hour history and enforce very strict rules that limit power accumulation, in all its incarnations.

      • The problem is that coporations pay taxes. As such, this entitles them to those rights. They pay, they gain. However, what they pay in taxes is minimal compared to what the citizenry pay. The solution is not a constitutional amendment. The solution is to eliminate corporate income tax. If they don't pay taxes, they would no longer be "corporate citizens."

        This would also go far in eliminating political finance problems. If they don't have that "freedom of speech" ability to make contributions, the pa
        • What country are you in? Corporations don't pay taxes in addition to their many other benefits as "people." That's part of the problem. They have a million loopholes to get out of taxes.
        • ...and those from individual voters.

          You are aware, I assume, that individual voters run corporations and that it would be a trivial book keeping matter to redirect the campaign funds business gives through the respective business owners who could, then, legally give them to the people running for office?
        • by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Friday February 18, 2005 @11:24AM (#11711953)
          The problem is that coporations pay taxes. As such, this entitles them to those rights.

          Ah, no, whether or not a not-real legally-defined entity like a corporation pays taxes is pretty much irrelevant to whether the government considers corporations people. The problem is the Supreme Court decisions giving corporations "personhood". See this link [yeoldecons...shoppe.com] for an interesting little essay on how the Supreme Court managed to "create" corporate personhood.

          They (the SC) may have successfully tied the concept of corporate personhood to enough precedents to make it "Constitutional", which means that the legislatures would have to pass a Constitutional Amendment to explicitly "undefine" corporate personhood. Of course, given corporate lobbying power, what do you think the chances of THAT happening is?

          Actually, a Constitutional Amendment to restrict personhood to real-life individuals makes a _lot_ more sense to me than a stupid amendment to define marriage as "between one man and one woman". Hey, if corporations have personhood, can you marry a corporation?

      • Strangely enough, I don't believe you. If a corporation has the same rights, it should have the same responsibilities. That's so obviously not true that I leave it to you to demonstrate to your own curiosity.

        Furthermore, if a corporation kills, it should be jailed for it. When's the last time that happened? Right, it never has.

        Until the Corporate Death Penalty is explicitly enacted de facto or de jure, then I'll start believing in a corporation's "personhood".
      • by David Leppik (158017) on Friday February 18, 2005 @11:51AM (#11712313) Homepage
        Thats just the thing. Corporations are legally entitled to all the rights of people. That is what makes them so powerful.


        (Disclaimer: IANAL.)



        That's not entirely true. Corporations have the right to enter into contracts as people. They like to pretend to have other rights, such as freedom of speech. As I understand it, the NRA tried to get a radio station last year to bypass restrictions on their speech-- that is, the tried to join the constitutionally protected press.



        Despite the corporate personhood implied by Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), corporations have not been allowed to vote or excercize similar rights.



        If you honestly believe that corporations have all the rights of a person, try to get married to a corporate entity. If Starbucks spurns you, try a non-profit entity such as the ACLU.


    • Another example of the far more sensible approach our friends across the pond take to things.

      If you mean sensible because they because they rejected software patents....sure.

      But dear lord, look at how much trouble it is to kill this one stupid bill in the EU. How many times does a bill have to be rejected before it really dies over there?
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:46AM (#11710801) Homepage
    Doesn't he mean benefits to Bill!

  • 1-0 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:46AM (#11710804)
    That's a 1-0 for FOSS. But let's keep in mind that the other side will not give up that easily.
    • Re:1-0 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:50AM (#11710823) Homepage
      They will only give up when software patents are legal. This is going to be a LONG fight.

      And I just don't get why Europe would EVER legalize software patents. Right now they are legal in Australia, India, the US, and Japan. So basically, right not, Europe is the only place in the industrialized world which can do something simple like include a help icon in its software.

      Without software patents, Europe will become a Mecca of software development!
      • Australia signed a free trade agreemnt with the USA but haven't implemented the legislation to allow software patents yet.
      • Re:1-0 (Score:5, Informative)

        by back_pages (600753) <.back_pages. .at. .cox.net.> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:52AM (#11711477) Journal
        In an effort to advance the discussion and understanding of the American patent system, I would like to point out that software is actually not patentable in the US.

        Here are some relavant portions of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (the bible by which patents are examined in the US.)

        The USPTO's public MPEP [uspto.gov]
        From MPEP 2106, all emphasis added
        The claimed invention as a whole must accomplish a practical application. That is, it must produce a "useful, concrete and tangible result." State Street, 149 F.3d at 1373, 47 USPQ2d at 1601-02. The purpose of this requirement is to limit patent protection to inventions that possess a certain level of "real world" value, as opposed to subject matter that represents nothing more than an idea or concept, or is simply a starting point for future investigation or research (Brenner v. Manson, 383 U.S. 519, 528-36, 148 USPQ 689, 693-96); In re Ziegler, 992, F.2d 1197, 1200-03, 26 USPQ2d 1600, 1603-06 (Fed. Cir. 1993)). Accordingly, a complete disclosure should contain some indication of the practical application for the claimed invention, i.e., why the applicant believes the claimed invention is useful.

        ...

        A process that consists solely of the manipulation of an abstract idea is not concrete or tangible. See In re Warmerdam, 33 F.3d 1354, 1360, 31 USPQ2d 1754, 1759 (Fed. Cir. 1994). See also Schrader, 22 F.3d at 295, 30 USPQ2d at 1459. Office personnel have the burden to establish a prima facie case that the claimed invention as a whole is directed to solely an abstract idea or to manipulation of abstract ideas or does not produce a useful result. Only when the claim is devoid of any limitation to a practical application in the technological arts should it be rejected under 35 U.S.C. 101. Compare Musgrave, 431 F.2d at 893, 167 USPQ at 289; In re Foster, 438 F.2d 1011, 1013, 169 USPQ 99, 101 (CCPA 1971). Further, when such a rejection is made, Office personnel must expressly state how the language of the claims has been interpreted to support the rejection.

        ...

        There is always some form of physical transformation within a computer because a computer acts on signals and transforms them during its operation and changes the state of its components during the execution of a process. Even though such a physical transformation occurs within a computer, such activity is not determinative of whether the process is statutory because such transformation alone does not distinguish a statutory computer process from a nonstatutory computer process. What is determinative is not how the computer performs the process, but what the computer does to achieve a practical application. See Arrhythmia, 958 F.2d at 1057, 22 USPQ2d at 1036.

        ...

        For such subject matter to be statutory, the claimed process must be limited to a practical application of the abstract idea or mathematical algorithm in the technological arts. See Alappat, 33 F.3d at 1543, 31 USPQ2d at 1556-57 (quoting Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. at 192, 209 USPQ at 10). See also Alappat 33 F.3d at 1569, 31 USPQ2d at 1578-79 (Newman, J., concurring) ("unpatentability of the principle does not defeat patentability of its practical applications") (citing O'Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. (15 How.) at 114-19). A claim is limited to a practical application when the method, as claimed, produces a concrete, tangible and useful result; i.e., the method recites a step or act of producing something that is concrete, tangible and useful. See AT&T, 172 F.3d at 1358, 50 USPQ2d at 1452. Likewise, a machine claim is statutory when the machine, as claimed, produces a concrete, tangible and useful result (as in State Street, 149 F.3d at 1373, 47 USPQ2d at 1601) and/or when a specific machine is being claimed (as in Alappat, 33 F.3d at 1544, 31 USPQ2d at 1557 (in banc). For example, a computer process that simply calculates a mathematical

      • Re:1-0 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by k98sven (324383)
        They will only give up when software patents are legal. This is going to be a LONG fight.

        Perhaps a long fight, but not a constant one.

        Firstly.. the EU almost certainly going to have a directive on the patentability of software. Whether that directive allows or bans software patents isn't determined. But both sides want a directive, and that's what's going to happen.

        Once a directive is passed into law, the issue will be buried for several years. It's the rules of the game. Once an issue has been settled,
    • Re:1-0 (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is *not* OSS vs Commercial soft, it's smaller software companies (and OSS) vs the big multinational corporations.
  • by Synli (781075) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:47AM (#11710809)
    From the article: "The latest rejection means that now the bill on computer inventions must go back to the EU for re-consideration."
  • Double standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainAlbert (162776) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:49AM (#11710818) Homepage
    So, when he writes to lawmakers asking them to consider his point of view, it's called "lobbying".

    How come when I do it, it's called "muddying debate"?

    Sheesh...
    • CompTIA is the same people you have to pay to get your A+ certification - so many /.'ers are actually supporting the pro-patent lobby through their A+ certification.

      Just something to think about.
      • Yet Another Worthless Cert.

        A+ means that you paid CompTIA your cash, not that you are able to be on a help desk or come to my office and swap out my old laptop for a new one without screwing the whole thing up...

  • Microsoft (Score:5, Funny)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:50AM (#11710830) Homepage Journal
    So, will Bill Gates close all his European operations now, that Europe is <sarc>clearly Communist</sarc>?

    • by game kid (805301)
      He'll put a positive spin on it, trying to look as "Communist" as possible in a sad attempt to fool us:
      "One job pulled from Europe is a tragedy; a million jobs pulled is an Innovation(TM)."
    • Re:Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

      If Billy Boy really found such things offensive, he wouldn't be doing the Chinese wong as much as he has. It's all about mo' money for Billy Boy, and the "Communist" label only matters when he doesn't get his way.

      Communist Chinese = capitalist innovators
      Communist Europeans = regressive throwbacks
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:52AM (#11710835) Journal
    Certain types of software inventions can be patented in Europe, as long as the have a "technological effect". The rules differ between countries (which is presumably why this bill is seen as needed), but what would this legislation permit that isn't already allowable in most countries?

    So why is this such a bad thing?
    • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:09AM (#11711001) Homepage
      The doctrine of 'technical effect' is a bizarre example of how a patent office, left to its own devices, will reinterpret the law in increasingly creative ways to expand its own powers.

      As the thread http://www.aful.org/wws/arc/patents/2000-06/msg000 65.html explains, first of all the EPO made a ruling that although programs for computers are explicitly excluded under the European Patent Convention, this did not apply when the computer program could be shown to have a 'technical effect'. This 'technical effect' is nowhere mentioned in the EPC's exclusion; it is an invention by the patent office to have some reason to grant patents on software.

      So for a few years you could get software patents in Europe if you could include some reasoning in your application to say that your program has a 'technical effect' when loaded onto a computer. Since the idea of technical effect is so vague, this allows through any software patent.

      Then a few years later the EPO decided that they might as well drop the pretence, and made another ruling which assumes that all computer programs have a 'technical effect'. So the explicit exclusion in the EPC is being ignored.

      Now, patents granted under this dubious reasoning are not very enforceable. National courts tend to interpret the law as it is written, and not the EPO's creative interpretation. However, if the directive is passed then the already-granted software patents in Europe (which are just as silly as those in the US, see the FFII horror gallery [ffii.org]) will become legal.

      The European law on patentability of software does not need 'clarifying', it is already quite explicit. We need to make the patent office follow the law as it stands.
  • Good. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jack Taylor (829836)
    Very good. Now that it has definitely been rejected, it will be much harder for a software patent bill to be passed through the European Parliament again without the wording being changed significantly. This probably won't happen any time soon...
  • Oh, The Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:54AM (#11710855) Homepage
    a pro-patent lobby group, said that the benefits of the bill had been obscured by special interest groups, which muddied debate about the rights and wrongs of software patents

    How dare they discuss the bad points about software patents. Isn't the pro-patent lobby group a special interest group? What makes them think they have a right to present their views, while groups which are against software patents do not?
    • Re:Oh, The Horror (Score:5, Interesting)

      by aastanna (689180) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:03AM (#11710934)
      They're paid to convince people to adopt software patents, not to be logical. Don't imagine that what a lobby group says is actually someone's real point of view.
    • Re:Oh, The Horror (Score:2, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428)
      It's really no different to one political party accusing its biggest opponent of "playing politics" when they do something it doesn't like. It's part of the game and is usually played by out-of-touch been-in-it-too-long hacks who do not realise how silly their remarks look to people on the outside.
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @09:59AM (#11710891) Homepage Journal
    The BBC article is perhaps the worst piece of journalism I've ever seen come out of the BBC.

    The directive was NOT rejected by the EU Parliament, but by the Conference of Presidents - essentially the group leaders of all the various parliamentary parties. It's still a good step, but it's misleading to claim this was an action by the Parliament as a whole.

    This does NOT mean that the bill "is thrown out". It means that the EU Parliament is supporting it's own legal affairs committee's call for the EU Commission to restart the process and have directed the President of the EU Parliament to officially request a restart.

    The bill must not "go back to the EU" for reconsideration - the EU Commission must decide whether it wants to accept the restart vote by parliament, ignore it, or overrule it. The latter two would mean the Council would go ahead as before.

  • by CrashPoint (564165) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:06AM (#11710960)
    I swear, all these Slashdot articles on software patents in Europe are blending together to the point where I start to think I'm reading Fark. Might as well title all future articles like this:

    "European software patents, formerly dead, then not dead, dead again, buried, ressurected, now dead yet again. Pope sucks. Duke surrenders. Still no cure for kitttens."

    • "European software patents, formerly dead, then not dead, dead again, buried, ressurected..."

      *We* know that the issue will keep rearing its ugly head, but it seems to me that pro-patent media outlets (I don't know why they are so biased) keep reporting a setback for the bill as a total rejection so that the organized opposition will disperse.

      - Brian.
  • good move (Score:2, Insightful)

    by coolcold (805170)
    I think this is a good move for EU since it does not benefit them at all nor their citizen. US, on the other hand, do benefit even if they (US) passed the law since the M$ is in US itself thus also paying tax to the US.
    • US, on the other hand, do benefit even if they (US) passed the law since the M$ is in US itself thus also paying tax to the US.

      Microsoft, through creative bookkeeping, doesn't pay any corporate taxes.
  • Does it make anyone else violently angry that these guys would claim such things about the causes of not getting software patents?
  • by Jimpqfly (790794) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:10AM (#11711016) Homepage Journal
    According to Michel Rocard (former France Prime Minister, now European Deputy), companies like US Majors (Microsoft & Co), Nokia or Alcatel exerted pressure on european commission to have a second look at the pattent issue. In this interview [lemonde.fr] (French) Michel Rocard says that the expert group that was supposed to help the commission, was in fact formed by Microsoft and other IT companies.

    Rocard said : "We never could have talked a common language with the companies representatives we met - in particular those from Microsoft. Speaking about free ideas circulation, free access to knowledge, was like speaking chinese to them. In their way of thinking, everything that is not usable for immediate profit cease to be a growth vector. They don't seem to be able to understand that an invention which is a pure spirit creation can't be pattented. It's simply terrifying. Many of us, at the Parliament, agree to say that they never have know such a pressure and such a verbal violence during their parliamentary work. It is a huge case."

    18 may 2004, Commission presents a new text even more liberal than the first one, and try to impose it during Agriculture Minister Concil, which primary objective was FISHING. Thanks to Poland interventions, the vote is avoided.

    "Concerning France, no word from it. Jacques Chirac claimed himself against extensive software pattenting during his presidential campaing. But the current industry minister, Patrick Devedjian said nothing against the text."
  • A Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmknobl (669948) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:12AM (#11711032) Journal
    I'm all for limiting how and what can be patented in software as, at least in the U.S., to many suits and abuses have come from people trying to collect money on just a few lines of code anyone can easily come up with when they think (read one-click purchasing).

    But if someone does come up with something truly unique that is expressed in software, how can this be legally protected so someone else doesn't steal your work after one or one-half year?

    Perhaps there should be no software patents at all, just some sort of legal copyright protection for 5 years or so. But how is that uniqueness defined anyway? At what point does a subsection of code become unique enough to be protected?

    As me ol' chums would say, this truly is a sticky wicket!
    • Re:A Question (Score:5, Informative)

      by erik_norgaard (692400) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:25AM (#11711147) Homepage
      The idea of one-click-shopping is not protected in EU, but a particular implementation is protected by copyright.

      Further, since you are not required to distributed code in source, it can be quite hard to copy your implementation.

      Software is protected by copyright which expires 70 years after the death of the author - if copyright is owned by a company, then 70 years after publication (AFAIK).

      Patents allow protection of ideas. These expires after 20 years from the patent being issued.
    • Re:A Question (Score:4, Informative)

      by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebeNO@SPAMelis.ugent.be> on Friday February 18, 2005 @11:05AM (#11711666) Homepage
      But if someone does come up with something truly unique that is expressed in software, how can this be legally protected so someone else doesn't steal your work after one or one-half year?
      People cannot steal something which is not your property (intellectual or otherwise). The question is not what you or someone else as an individual wants or feels he/she deserves, but about what is best for the economy and innovation.

      Study [ffii.org.uk] after study [ffii.org] shows that software innovation does not happen because people want to get a monopoly, but because they have since otherwise the competition will catch up to them. The industry needs cheap, fast and narrow protections (similar to copyright), because patents are inherently so broad they are clogging up the system with thickets. The big companies aren't all cross licensing their patents just for fun.

      Perhaps there should be no software patents at all, just some sort of legal copyright protection for 5 years or so. But how is that uniqueness defined anyway? At what point does a subsection of code become unique enough to be protected?
      There is already copyright which provides for a protection until 75 years after the author's death. However, it only covers direct copying (partial or entirely), or plagiarizing (this can include reverse engineering and writing your own version based on the gained knowledge, if you don't take proper precautions)

      Independent writing of a similar program (which simply does the same, but otherwise is in no way based on the original program) is not covered by copyright. That's a feature of copyright, not a bug. As such, copyright does give you a short time span on which you are alone on the market with that feature.

      It definitely won't be 5 years in general, but even 5 years is an eternity in terms of software development.

  • by erik_norgaard (692400) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:15AM (#11711062) Homepage
    There is a clear requirement that the current patent laws in EU be cleared up! It is quite obscure and vague on some points and this has actually allowed for software patents to get through, just check the iiff.org website.

    The discussion is not whether new and uniform patent legislation accross EU is needed. It is about the content.

    The pros want EU to align with USA, in many other areas, aligning laws with important trade partners is beneficial for all parties. But with the development in USA in this case, the benefits of such alignment can be disputed.

    Unfortunately the continual rejections and attempts to force through a particular piece of paper has now become a dispute about democracy and who has the power - attention seems to be shifted away from the original content.

    I am looking forward for the process to restart so the discussion can get back on track.
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:16AM (#11711068)
    A bill being obscured by special interest groups? No ......
  • by Phil Hands (2365) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:25AM (#11711149) Homepage
    While JURI (a committee of Members of the European Parliament) and the Council of Ministers have both voted for a restart, the European Commission are still legally allowed to push this through to it's second reading if they manage to put it on an agenda as an A-item.

    A-items are a rubber stamping of translations, of previously agreed directives. So far, Poland have been blocking the A-item from getting onto any agendas, but they seem to have finally been nobbled.

    Just in time, Denmark have decided to dig their toes in, but if they fold there is still an oportunity to push the directive through.

    Of course, flouting the wills of MEPs in this way might be enough to galvanise them into kicking the whole thing out in the second reading, despite the fact that the voting system at that stage is rigged against such an eventuality.
    • Oops, that should have been "Conference of Presidents" rather than "Council of Ministers" in the first sentence.

      The Conference of Presidents is made up of the President of the Parliament and the chairmen of political groups, so is another group of senior MEPs.

      It's the Council of Ministers that's the arena in which the A-items keep not quite getting through, where the government ministers responsible for various departments (i.e. Agriculture & Fisheries) get together, and if there are A-items on their
  • Unfortunately this is just poor reporting from the BBC -- they ar reporting in the Council of Presidents decision without naming it -- it is still down to the Council and commision (as per the council of presidents original post).
  • by sepluv (641107) <blakesleyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:39AM (#11711313)
    The BBC article is a bit vague (although perfectly accurate). As Zonk says, this basically means that the Conference of Presidents has ratified the JURI decision to throw out the directive as explained better by the FFII [ffii.org].

    However there is a chance that the €C could, nonetheless, defy the Conference of Presidents, but it is very unlikely (and will cause even more backlash and probably eventually get the €C sacked).

    Also see details of the MEPs press conference [ffii.org] and info. about the recent FFII demo by the €C HQ in Brussels [ffii.org] which no doubt helped.

    I think this probably (you can't be sure of anything in Brussels) means the directive really is as dead as a dodo, so here's my dead patent-law sketch (apologies to Monty Python):

    The Cast:

    • Mr. Gates
    • A European Commissioner
    The Sketch

    A `customer' (with brown envelopes and chequebook aready) enters the €C in Brussels.

    Mr. Gates: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

    (The commisioner does not respond.)

    Mr. Gates: 'Ello, Miss?

    Commissioner: What do you mean "miss"?

    Mr. Gates: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

    Commissioner: We're closin' for lunch.

    Mr. Gates: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this patent law what I purchased not two years ago from this very office.

    Commissioner: Oh yes, the, uh, the computer-implemented inventions one...What's, uh...What's wrong with it?

    Mr. Gates: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

    Commissioner: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

    Mr. Gates: Look, matey, I know a dead patent law when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

    Commissioner: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable law, idn'it, ay? Beautiful sophistory and ambiguity!

    Mr. Gates: The anbiguity don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

    Commissioner: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

    Mr. Gates: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up!

    ...

    Mr. Gates: You let the European Parliament kill 'im, didn't you!

    Commissioner: I never!!

    Mr. Gates: Yes, you did!

    Commissioner: I never, never did anything...

    (Mr. Gates takes patent law out of briefcase and thumps it on the desk. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

    contd...(due to limit on post size)

    • by sepluv (641107) <blakesleyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:41AM (#11711341)

      The Sketch (contd...)

      Mr. Gates: Now that's what I call a dead patent law. The JURI is no longer out on that patent law...its most definitely deceased.

      Commissioner: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!

      Mr. Gates: STUNNED?!?

      Commissioner: Yeah! 'E was stunned by all the public backlash! Patent laws stun easily, major.

      Mr. Gates: Um...now look...now look, mate, I've definitely 'ad enough of this. That patent law is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not two years ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein' tired and shagged out following prolonged internal diplomacy.

      Commissioner: Well...uhhh...we prefer to do things dead slow and sure like in the EU!

      Mr. Gates: Well...the dead bit is most certainly right. Look, why did it fall flat on his back the moment I got home last time? I never had these problems with Congress...

      Commissioner:Remarkable patent law, id'nit, squire? Lovely contradictions and those beautiful convoluted sentences!

      Mr. Gates: Look, I took the liberty of examining that patent law when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had got as far as it had in the first place was that no one had actually READ it.

      (pause)

      Commissioner: Well, o'course they don't! They're not payed enough for that...at least they are, but we pay 'em NOT to read 'em. That's the trick, you see. Trust me...that patent law will fly straight through as an A-item in the fisheries committee...just like...a parrot, sir...you know parrots love a bit of fish...the great thing is, sir, that the ministers and MEPs avoid it like the plague on account of it stinkin' to 'igh 'eaven...

      Mr. Gates: Never find how 'igh your damn committee stinks, this patent law wouldn't fly through your committee if you put four million volts through every minister present! 'E's bleedin' demised!

      Commissioner: No no! 'E's just a li'l slow!

      Mr. Gates: 'E's not slow! 'E's passed on! This patent law is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! 'E's pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked thebucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PATENT LAW!!

      (pause)

      Commissioner: Well, I'd better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek round the back) Sorry squire, I've had a look 'round the back , and uh, we're right out of patent laws.

      Mr. Gates: I see. I see, I get the picture.

      Commissioner: I got a HIPC initiative. Uhhh...your good...ummm...friend, Mr. Brown had this idea you see but he hasn't got the means...

      (pause)

      Mr. Gates: (sweetly) Pray, will it take out my competitors?

      Commissioner: Nnnnot really.

      Mr. Gates: WELL IT'S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?

      Commissioner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)

      Mr. Gates: Well.

      (pause)

      Commissioner: (quietly) You know I thought that uhhh...spread in Teen Beat was rather good...uhhh...D'you.... d'you want to come back to my place?

      Mr. Gates: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.

      Copyright

      The original dead parrot [wikipedia.org] sketch [mtholyoke.edu] was written by Graham Chapman, et. al. for Monty Python [wikipedia.org]'s Flying Circus [wikipedia.org] and is © 1989 Pantheon Books/Random House, Inc. My modification of it is co

  • So MS threatened to close up shop in Denmark if the EU doesn't go for software patents. But here in the US, we hauled their butts into court and got an antitrust conviction, and they're still here. What the hell do we have to do to get them to leave?
  • European Freedom (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Space_Soldier (628825) <not4_u@hotmail.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:52AM (#11711481)
    Is it me, or is Europe more free than USA? We all know that many Europeans migrated here during the colonies because of tyranny. But they came here to create their own oppression. We got religion everywhere, censored television/radio/newspapers. We also got oligarchs telling us what we can and can not do with the shitty patent system. We need to take the USA back from this people.
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:53AM (#11711485) Journal
    Never underestimate the resolve of big money to keep subverting the legal process (in this case, they were not able to subvert the democratic process) to buttress their short-term interests.

    But, come to think of it, let the damn thing pass, individual countries who do not want it can very well refuse to honour and protect software patent law.

    There are precedents: even though abortion was illegal in Canada (until the law that forbade abortion was declared unconstitutional), Québec refused not only to uphold that law, but even funded abortions.

    So if a particular country wants to have a thriving software industry, it can simply tell patent holders to shove their patents where their constipatedness shines...

  • by shimmin (469139) on Friday February 18, 2005 @10:55AM (#11711521) Journal
    For the perlexed, here's how this works.

    Roughly speaking, the EU has a bicameral legislature, with the two houses being the Parliament and the Council. However, neither one of those bodies can introduce legislation; rather, legislation begins with a third body, the Commission.

    Now, European regulations ostensibly do not permit the patenting of a computer program, as such. However, the European Patent Office, has for a while now been interpreting those regulations differently than you or I would, and issuing software patents anyway. However, such patents have not held up in court.

    So the Commission drafts a new patent directive that would explicitly permit software patents that had some "technical effect," a term broad enough to encompass just about anything.

    The draft directive next goes to the Parliament, where it gets severely amended, such that it would exclude most software patents.

    The amended directive then goes to the Council, where it is re-amended to resemble the original version. And then something weird happens. While the pro-patent contingent got its act together long enough to amend the directive, it never got around to voting to send the amended version back to Parliament, and then, it was unclear whether they had a majority in Council anymore, and then, Council went on break.

    If the Council ever gets around to sending its version back to Parliament, Parliament will have to scrape together an absolute majority (rather than the qualified majority they needed to have to amend it in the first place) to either reject or further confuse the process. If they prove unable to do so within 3 (or 4, if they vote themselves a further delay) months (a distinct possibility), then the directive comes into force, and all the various national legislatures are supposed to harmonize their laws with the directive.

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