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EU Patents Won't Stay Dead 410

Posted by Zonk
from the like-legislative-zombies dept.
sconeu writes "Apparently the EC is ignoring the restart directive, and has placed software patents as an A-Item on the Council of Minister's agenda with an aim for approval on Monday." From the article: "The directive is pitched as offering greater protection for software developers. Opponents, including many in the European parliament, fear it will simply provide big players, including America's powerful and litigious software giants, with a very large stick to batter upstart developers and the Open Source movement." Update: 03/04 22:04 GMT by Z : And just as quick as you please Denmark stops things in their tracks. Denmark's objection means that there will have to be further debate before the patents get the stamp.
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EU Patents Won't Stay Dead

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  • by Harodotus (680139) * on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:09PM (#11845829) Homepage
    Is it just me or does it sound like Microsoft and other litigious American software giants has bought the influence of this European commission? I can only hope that the many countries involved will stand up and fight to at least hold debate on a matter that might ruin most small and mid sized European software companies.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:22PM (#11845961)
      We've been standing up and fighting for months, but the way the EU is set up it's very hard to do anything about it.

      In particular, the measure has been repeatedly voted against by the European Parliament, which is comprised of elected representatives from every region of every European country. It has been voted against by the Council of Ministers, which is comprised of important members of the Government of each member state. But with the bizzare way in which the EU works, the wishes of both the people and of the member governments can be overridden by unelected beaurocrats, some of whom were appointed years ago by politicians who are no longer in power.
      • by cortana (588495) <<sam> <at> <robots.org.uk>> on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:29PM (#11846035) Homepage
        While technically correct, it's misleading to say that the Council of Ministers have voted against it. It implies that they don't want the legislation pushed through, whereas in reality they do.

        Decisions made by the Council must be unanimous. The Software Patents directive has been placed on the agenda as an A-list item (one that is passed without discussion unless a council member vetos it). Previously it has been prevented from passing by Poland, twice, and Denmark, once (I think).

        It is the Council that will pass the Software Patents directive on Monday, unless another Council member vetos it: stage 5 of the flowchart at http://europa.eu.int/comm/codecision/stepbystep/di agram_en.htm [eu.int].

        The flowchart says "approves all the EP's ammendments" but (I believe that) the Parliament didn't make any modifications to the directive at the time of the first reading, because it predates any of our lobbying to make them aware of how bad the directive will be for the European software industry.
        • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:16PM (#11847251)
          Just FYI, the parliament did make significant amendments to the directive, effectively keeping the status quo and keeping software patents invalid, back in September 2003, but in the process made some parts of the directive contradict itself.

          However, the working party that reworked the directive for the Council removed the bulk of the parliament's amendments, while promising that they had put in additional protections against software patents, when in fact the protections were meaningless.

          It was this theoretically neutered directive that the Council agreed to in May 2004 by a slim majority. Now that members have realised what they've done (agree a directive that allows patents), some are now trying to prevent this directive from being rubber-stamped as an A-list item, as you mentioned, despite the pressure of the Commission to force through the may 2004 version. I believe this is the 'common position' stage, step 9.

          If it goes onto its second reading, the EP can still amend or block the directive, but it's a lot harder to do so, given the absolute majority required.

          Here's hoping sufficient people in the Council can block the directive as an A-list item, and either force a restart or at least knock it back to a B-list item again for further discussion.
        • by Alsee (515537) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:03PM (#11847863) Homepage
          5 of the flowchart

          No, they appear to be on step 9 or 10.

          (I believe that) the Parliament didn't make any modifications to the directive at the time of the first reading

          The Parliment did amend the directive. In fact Parliment did an excellent job. We WANT that version passed. The Council simply threw out essentially all of the of Parliments amendments. In fact they proceeded to re-amend it to be even more extreme and further from the Parliments position. They then had the gall to call it a "common position", to claim it was some sort of compromise and concilliation with Parliment. This is where we are now, they are attempting to officially sign off on this "common position" and pass it back to parliment.

          I hate missleading names. It really shouldn't be titled a "common position" at all. The Council is certainly supposed to draft it in an effort to resolve differences with Parliment, but as this case shows there is no reason to expect it actually *is* any sort of common position.

          -
    • by ChaosCube (862389) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:32PM (#11846058) Homepage
      That's what went through my head when I read the headline. If something like this just refuses to die, something else is behind it. You can really tell because this is happening so fast. If there was an issue that was not influenced by big money, and it was subject to debate between sides, we wouldn't hear it go back and forth so often. With this, the tide goes back and forth every other day. Politics don't move that fast unless there's a lot of money or power involved.
    • Here they are... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ooze (307871) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:39PM (#11846132)
      The members of the commission. [eu.int]

      Since telling it nicely doesn't work, and telling it with lots of money is out of the question, we should find other ways to uhm...convince them. The first step is to peel them out of this anonymus term "European Commission", so they can't hide in it.
      • Some have blogs (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sebby (238625)
        with comments enabled too!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... for a second reading, can't they kill the measure then even if the Ministers approve it?
  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:12PM (#11845869) Journal
    There is nothing wrong with patents per se, but rather the *reasons* why they are being called for.

    The European computer patent measure seems to be aimed at stifling competition rather than encourage innovation - that is why it's not a good idea.

    Unfortunate, the US patent system has the idea right but it's been misused into oblivion (with wonderful contributions from those granting patents, too) - but it was never created for the reasons that the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive is being created for.

    Damn unfortunate.
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:15PM (#11845900)
      If you want people to innovate, then pay them to do so.

      You don't need to give people the power to stop OTHER people from innovating in order to encourage THEM to innovate.
      • Re:Well (Score:3, Insightful)

        by metlin (258108)
        Well, it's not enough if you just paid people now, is it? :-)

        The idea behind patents is -

        Help you capitalize on your idea

        Give you a lead over others so that you are the only one who can legally use it for a while

        Put the idea for all others to see and extend on

        The idea is not to STOP others, but give you a lead over others since you invented it in the first place. Remember, that is not a bad idea in itself because if you are a 16 year old kid in a basement who comes up with your own idea, it can genuin

        • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Friday March 04, 2005 @05:45PM (#11848841) Homepage
          Blame the patent office for granting those patents, but not the idea behind patents in general.

          If the idea behind patents is clumsy and vague enough that it can't be implemented without the patent office in question granting these disastrous "bad" patents, then wouldn't this essentially indicate some kind of flaw in the idea itself? Because frankly, every patent system in the world so far that allows software patents has granted these bad patents in great number.

          It's kind of like, oh I don't know, communism. If Leninism is a good idea so long as you can get an incorrupt and wholly selfless state, but you can't ever get an incorrupt and wholly selfless state, maybe Leninism itself is just not such a good idea.

          The patent concept is inherently inappropriate for computer programs. It cannot be implemented in a reasonable fashion, and attempts to implement it through bureaucracy are doomed to spectacular failure.
        • by gidds (56397)
          With physical inventions, patents do what you suggest: they protect the little guy. Big companies have the resources to mass-produce products, resources that the little guy simply doesn't have. So there's a very real risk of a big company copying your invention and outproducing you; patents are arguably necessary to prevent this.

          Things are different with software. Firstly, you don't need vast resources to mass-produce software. A web site is about all you need; and reasonable servers and bandwidth are w

    • Has there ever been some study or likewise that support patents, in the sense that they show an increase in innovation in areas that are patent regulated?

      • It would be impossible to do such a study, because there's no available control group.

        Thomas Edison innovated, and he had lots of patents. Is that good enough for you? It shouldn't be, because you can't point to a truly analagous inventor who worked in a climate with no patents and compare the effects.

        • Thomas Edison innovated, and he had lots of patents. Is that good enough for you? It shouldn't be, because you can't point to a truly analagous inventor who worked in a climate with no patents
          Without thinking 2 spring to mind. Ben Franklin and Leonardo DiVinci.
        • It would be impossible to do such a study, because there's no available control group.

          I can recall in the 80's that Taiwan was producing Apple II clones that weren't legal in the US but proliferated in Southeast Asia. I wonder if the semiconductor industry in Taiwan is now more developed and influential than it was back then because of profits gained from ignoring intellectual property restrictions and manufacturing computer clones. Economies with overly restrictive patent laws may end up crippling them

        • by mcc (14761)
          Thomas Edison ... you can't point to a truly analagous inventor who worked in a climate with no patents and compare the effects.

          How about every single person responsible for the creation and development of computer science?

          How about Alan Turing, Alonzo Church, Grace Hopper, John McCarthy, Edsger W. Dijkstra, everyone at Bell Labs from Claude Shannon to Ken Richie, everyone at Xerox PARC during their important period, and (for at least most of his career) Donald Knuth?

          Because computer programming was a
    • by nkh (750837)
      There is nothing wrong with patents per se

      I had the best idea ever: instead of saying patents, we'll use the word algorithms. Now, we just have to prevent everyone from selling algorithmic and computer sciences books because they are evil and can trick us into writing programs and libraries based on existing patents.
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Doomdark (136619) on Friday March 04, 2005 @03:50PM (#11847700) Homepage Journal
      Unfortunate, the US patent system has the idea right but it's been misused into oblivion

      This is the good old "guns don't kill people, people do". It's neither here nor there -- the system is being systemically abused, so much so that the original idea(l)s don't really matter a lot. I'm also not quite sure where you got the idea that EU system was designed to stifle innovation -- I seriously doubt that was the expressed intent. Rather, there was lots of talk about harmonization, and levelling the playin gfield. not that I care much about the official reasonings, but since you imply they differ between US and European systems (which I don't think is the case).

      What you are basically saying that EU patent system extension would be just ok, if the rhetorics being used were more noble. I think talk is cheap, and the end result would be the same no matter how eloquently the background ideals were expressed.

      Further, I think that there is plenty wrong with patents, as far as they extend to software and business methods. For one they are useless (copyrights are enough); and for another they are dangerous (abuse by companies specializing in enforcing patents instead of building anything based on designs being patented).

      I can accept time-limited patents for mechanical inventions, and (grudgingly) for chemical compounds (or, preferably, only for methods for creating specific compounds); but that's because they already exist, and there are some reasonably arguments for them. For software, I'd much rather not have any patentability whatsoever. And I'm confident that this would be to my best interest, even as the "small guy", coming up with innovative software algorithms and designs. I don't need abuse-ridden system to ostensibly "protect" me.

  • I don't understand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:13PM (#11845876)
    Why do Europeans allow a non-elected commission to determine economic policy? It makes no sense to me that a state would agree to hand out such important matters that, in my mind anyhow, require representation to do. Personally, I don't give crap about software patents, I'm more amazed the EU is run like this.
    • by alext (29323) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:16PM (#11845909)
      Because their governments refused to give the EU Parliament real power, instead sending commissioners to make up a cabal.
    • by Lussarn (105276) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:20PM (#11845951)
      Why do Europeans allow a non-elected commission to determine economic policy?

      The Euuropean union is a young and a very fastmoving project. I believe very few europeans know what the parlament actully do and what the commission do. I'm a swede and very seldom we get to vote, there is close to zero follow-up on the people we vote on in the media and frankly we don't know what they do. I don't think democracy is one of the strengths of the EU right now. Maybe in the future.
    • Look, I'm fine with all the criticism, but stop with the 'non-elected' crap, ok? The commission consists of people proposed by the national governments, which are elected just fine.

      Indirect elections are nothing new. Some nations even choose their president that way.

    • May I remind you that the governments of most countries are also non-elected? Usually they are appointed by the prime minister, who is also non-elected, but appointed by the governing faction/coalition of the parliament.
    • by mormop (415983)
      Funnily enough, nor do I.

      For the first time ever, Microsoft has real competition and two of the main players are based in Europe, e.g. SuSE and Mandrake. I fully expected Microsoft et al to pressure the EU but didn't expect Europe to basically decapitate the very industry that could have made it a real force to be reckoned with.

      A couple of years ago, there was an EU purge on corruption within the commission itself and a minister was appointed to ensure that it did not recur. Sadly, either the bastards asl
  • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:15PM (#11845898) Journal
    Who will earn the most money from this?

    Who has enough money to be able to spend it to get this through because Linux is starting to gain popularity?

    I won't answer either but we all know the answer.
  • by Sta7ic (819090) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:16PM (#11845907)
    Sure, software patents protect small developers. That's why Carmack's Reverse is patented by 3DLabs (who John Carmack doesn't work for, and received royalties from Doom 3 sales), one-click ordering is patented by one of the online auction giants, and is why we're seeing elements of standard computing operations being patented on a weekly basis.

    How does the patenting of the components and standard processes of computing protect the small developers if the small developers are no longer allowed to freely develop?
  • by TerminalSpin (766133) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:19PM (#11845933)
    Apparently, the Danes have stepped up to kill this one! http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic. php?t=428 [nosoftwarepatents.com]
  • EU Questions... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) <shadow.wroughtNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:19PM (#11845935) Homepage Journal
    I'm not up on my EU procedures. Assuming it is approved by the ministers, does it still need Parliamentary approval? If so, and assuming it receives such, is there some type of court to which an appeal can be brought? Does the EU have any type of Judicial redress?
    • Re:EU Questions... (Score:3, Informative)

      by CharonX (522492)
      Well, if it would be approved, it still would have to return to the EU parliament, due to their request to restart / renegotiate.
      However, since they require a absolute majority to implement changes to it would be much harder to stop it.
      Should it manage to get through, the best bet would be for the parliament to reject it in full, however, this would also require an absolute majority.
  • by CharonX (522492) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:20PM (#11845938) Journal
    According to this article [heise.de] in the German IT magazine Heise.de (use the fish [altavista.com]), the danish parliament has giving their minister for economy, Bendt Bendtsen, binding orders to request a complete restart of the whole negotiations.
    The parliament of the Netherlands have giving their representative orders to support any demands for new negotiations.
    Finally, the German representative would face sever pressure (he'd probably have to resign) should he ignore the German parliants demands for new negotiations.
    As for many of the "new" EU members, they will probably not support a decision that might severly restrict their fledgeling IT economy - no matter how much Microsoft and the other "big players" try to lobby.
    So, all in all, its as good as dead - at least for now.
  • by SlashDread (38969) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:23PM (#11845972)
    Today, the danish comission of European affairs ORDERED their governement to not treat the new software patent directive as a "done deal".
    The Dutch governement had earlier said it was hoping on a redraft opf the bill, but would not block the vote, something the German Governement had also done.
    In the meantime the Dutch VVD also brought in a motion to try to get an amendment to bring "community patents into the bill, which then would have to be completely redrafted.

    Source: www.webwereld.nl

    I dont know about you folks, but I'm thinking: "It ain't over 'till the Fat Lady sings"
    And I somewhat like the idea of a commons of patents.
    • Actually, the Dutch have ordered their representative to support any country that wishes to restart the whole negotiations.
      Since the Danes already stepped forward for that one, and the Dutch support it, they have to vote on it.
      And I guess it won't get a majority with the new EU members now present (they know it would kill of their feldgeling IT economy)
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:23PM (#11845973)

    Anytime you put a bad law or tax or whatever up for a vote.

    It gets voted down. So the powers that be hold another vote. Repeat until the TPTB gets what it wants. No rule in place to keep you from asking over and over, like a nagging kid wanting candy.

    Same thing in my home town over a property tax for schools. Put it up for a vote, and it's a no. Do it again. And again. And finally it goes through. And the school board starts doing backflips. Whee! A mandate from the masses!

    Any truly fair system would hold a single vote, on a single topic - and then no more. Not forever, but for say...at least 7 years or so.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:23PM (#11845977) Homepage Journal
    If the EU Parliament can make a stink about this autocratic move by the EU Council, and stop the power grab, it will be a larger victory for European democracy. This kind of abuse will happen all the time in Europe, making a sham of democracy as corporations and other interests make end runs around a subordinate democratic government. But if they can drive a stake through its heart now, democracy can rule a functionary state body instead. Europe has had centuries of warmup for a continental democracy experiment, including staging a mixed bag of results across the Atlantic. Now, as it is formally getting underway at home, is the time to ensure the balances are correct.
  • by henni16 (586412) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:25PM (#11846000)
    As heise reports [heise.de], the Danish parliament has bindingly instructed their secretary of commerce to vote AGAINST software patents,
    so the law can't be nodded through.
    According to their parliaments some other ministers are instructed (more or less bindingly) to support another country's approach to restart the whole process:
    Poland, Netherlands, Spain (had already voted against it in the last session), maybe Germany (but represented by some stubbor a..hat, so..)
    Also it is likely that some countries that were neutral during the last voting (like Austria, Belgium, Italy) will support a complete restart.
    • Don't forget the new EU members, they will want a restart.
      As for Germany - if our representative screws around again (the parliament has voted that Germany shouldn't support this directive) he'll probably have to step down.
      He already has taken some severe beatings since the German economy aint doing that good, but should he choose to go against the decision of the parliament it will be a feast for the Opposition.
  • My mail to the EC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by theolein (316044) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:27PM (#11846021) Journal
    I live in Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, thank God, and given the EC blatant disregard for the EU parlimentary request to restart the process of software patents, I will make very sure, by the democratic means of public initiative, aka privately initiated referendums, which we have in Switzerland, that Switzerland will never join that bastion of corruption.

    I do not want my country ruled by a cabal of easily bought unelected scum in Brussels, and, given the way things are going, I think there are many current EU members, such as the UK and Denmark that are wondering how they can get out of it as fast as possible.
    • "I do not want my country ruled by a cabal of easily bought unelected scum in Brussels, and, given the way things are going, I think there are many current EU members, such as the UK and Denmark that are wondering how they can get out of it as fast as possible."

      Heh, now you know how we feel about our "Representatives" in Washington D.C. :-)
  • by Richard_J_N (631241) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:27PM (#11846023)
    If you look here: http://ffii.org/ [ffii.org] there's some possibly better news.
  • by sploxx (622853) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:29PM (#11846036)
    IMHO, this is the effect the general political disinterest the population has here in the EU. It may be stronger than in the US, but it' still declining.

    And it is now SO LOW that corruption rises steeply. This is corruption, isn't it? Not calling it corruption would euphemise it.

    Maybe, people still care a bit about what the media say. The media don't say anything about 'smaller political issues', only the important ones.

    But the media also decide what "important issues" are. For example they redefine that corruption is about privately using frequent-flyer-miles (not ok, of course, but corruption?), about contacts of politicians into red-light districts (wtf?!)
    They let politicians talk about "high-tech", "information economy" etc.pp. But if important laws are proposed in this area, they do not notice or they do not want to notice.

    If the Minister for Economic Affairs overrides decisions of the cartel office for apparently no good reason (as it happened here in germany), it's pictured as "saving the economy". Arrrrrrgh!

    If they push this through, "we" should not stop trying to prevent software patents. We should lobby for the abolition of software patents then. But this will be hard.

    Sometimes, I have the vision for 2020-2030 of some grey-haired FLOSS developers drinking tea together and being nostalgic about the wild times where software development wasn't illegal and fundamental rights were still respected.

    But I can not, in any way, accept such a development.
    • Not to be snarky, but what is "euphemise"?
    • " IMHO, this is the effect the general political disinterest the population has here in the EU."

      Try to see it from their view:

      They think that TRIPs requires that software be patentable, that software is *currently* patentable due to the requirement in TRIPS and that the Parliament don't understand the current situation. They also think they are protecting European software companies from Asian competition.

      So the politicians in the Commission think they are doing the best for Europe. They think they're th
  • is like a bad zombie movie, it just keeps coming back from the dead. Why wont you die already!
  • by RootsLINUX (854452) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {xunilstoor}> on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:33PM (#11846075) Homepage
    The French revolution. Those in power repeatedly ignore the cries of the people and defile common sense with their governmental decisions. The rich live their lives in naive luxury while those outside their homes are starving. Finally the straw that breaks the camel's back will fall, and the people will rise to usurp their so-called "leaders". Chaos will soon follow, and the rage, blood, and death will spread across the countryside like wild-fire...

    Anything and everything just seems to be getting more and more messed up in the world of politics today. My only question is what will be the 21st century equivalent of the guillotine? Laser guns? Oh please, please let it be laser guns!!! =D
  • Here's a question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:38PM (#11846123)
    How can a new patent law be applied to existing software?

    What I mean by that is that if someone defines, say, a new crime and brings out laws against that crime, from that point on you can try people for breaking those laws. But you can't retrospectively try people who committed that crime before the laws against it were written.

    Sure, patent law has existed for years but software patent laws are not currently recognised in Europe. If they do get through, by the same logic, no software written before those laws were enforced can come under them - is that the case or am I missing something?

    • Their reasoning is that software patents are already legal and valid. Yeah yeah, the European Patent Convention has this pesky little line explicitly stating that software is not patentable, but that's OK... that line is completely meaningless and was intended to be completely meaningless when they wrote it. You see there's this wonderful little phrase "as such" latter in the text. The intended purpose of "as such" is to punch a hole in patent law so big you can drive a planet through it. The purpose of say
  • Who wants to abuse this patent system so we can piss off MS with their own tactics? all we need is alot of paper and time and we can patent everything from the spoon to the windows OS!
  • Residents are advised to stock up on shotguns and ammo, and to aim for the head. Scientists are still undecided on whether the outbreak is caused by an engineered virus, a near-earth asteroid fly-by, or bureaucratic incompetence.
  • by yeremein (678037) on Friday March 04, 2005 @02:50PM (#11846908)
    According to Austrian MEP Dr. Maria Berger, the European Commission acted in collusion with Microsoft [nosoftwarepatents.com] in denying the restart request.
    Dr. Berger describes the letter of the president of the Commission (José Manuel Barroso) to the president of the EP (Josep Borrell), in which a restart of the process is declined, as "yet another provocation of the parliament". She concludes that Barroso "apparently loves to play high-stakes poker with the EP", and recalls that he already suffered his first defeat with that approach last year when he had to withdraw his list of proposed commissioners because the EP would otherwise have withheld its approval. The way she sees the present situation, Barroso may now face another defeat. Dr. Berger concludes saying that Bill Gates, who recently traveled Europe to pressure politicians toward a directive to his liking, "is at the moment making himself ever more enemies in the EP".

    Another interesting tidbit from the article:
    Microsoft's push for EU software patents drew major attention last month after a leading Danish financial newspaper quoted Microsoft Denmark's chief lobbyist who said that Bill Gates had threatened the Danish government with killing 800 jobs unless the EU were to legalize software patents. The Danish social democrats responded with a press release that "blackmail shall not dictate Danish policy". Microsoft subsequently denied that Gates made the respective statement but did admit that intellectual property rights and their connection with the location of jobs were discussed in the respective meeting.
  • by freezin fat guy (713417) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:47PM (#11848344)
    I find it interesting that there is an ongoing suggestion that only big money firms are innovators and that small companies and open source concerns are just copiers. Such willful ignorance is staggering.

    You have any doubt? Let us look at Microsoft then as they are the biggest and surely the "most innovative." Which world famous products of theirs have shown them to be the great innovators that all else copy?

    MS-DOS? A clone of existing operating systems. They took someone else's idea, made their own implementation, and profited.

    Their greatest triumph? Windows OS. So can we assume Microsoft created the first graphical operating system? The first window based operating system? The first point-and-click, mouse navigated operating system? No, no and no. In all three cases they took an existing idea from someone else, extended it and profited.

    Which is exactly what small companies and open source projects do. But we're getting ahead of ourselves...

    Tell me then, what is the second item Microsoft is famous for? MS Office. So then, did Microsoft invent the word processor? Spreadsheet? Email client? Database? Not one thing that Microsoft is famous for is a software idea of their own invention. In every case they have extended a previous software idea. And have gotten rich doing it.

    This is how software has ALWAYS been created... until now.

    Software patents are simply a tool for the mighty to beat the young in manners they themselves were NEVER subjected to. If the EU passes this proposal they should be consistent and pass a proposal to allow adults to choke and stifle children, to choke them until they die. Sure, we understand that we became adults because someone else was leanient toward us. Just as the process of creating software was leanient toward today's giants. Should that debt cause us to extend the same courtesy toward those that come after us?

    Pass software patents? Let us be consistent then: punish the weak, the poor, the young, the lessers - all they who fall outside the scope of the "master race." Good Nazi's vote in favour of patents.

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