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EU Closer To Rejecting Software Patents 213

Posted by Zonk
from the one-step-forward-two-steps-back dept.
niekko writes "BusinessWeek is reporting on the hot subject of European software patent directive. 'The European Parliament moved Tuesday toward rejecting a proposed law creating a single way of patenting software across the European Union, officials said -- a move that would effectively kill the legislation since lawmakers do not plan to set forth a new version.'"
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EU Closer To Rejecting Software Patents

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  • If only... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scsirob (246572) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:29PM (#12987974)
    If only this would happen... I have written to many of the MEP's involved. Most don't even respond. Others appear to be either blonde or bought... Let's all keep our fingers crossed that common sense prevails.
    • by cybersaga (451046)
      Let's all keep our fingers crossed that common sense prevails.

      Knowing the kind of "sense" that is common today, quite frankly I hope you're wrong.
    • Re:If only... (Score:2, Informative)

      by jrutley (723005)
      You better try calling or faxing them then.

      Taken from Groklaw:
      The amendments FFII view as most important are the amendments to Articles 3, 4.1, 4.2, 5.2 and 6a. By the way, FFII says that MEPS are apparently no longer reading email about the directive. You can only reach them in Strasbourg by phone or fax.

    • Re:If only... (Score:5, Informative)

      by nickos (91443) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:19PM (#12988358)
      Actually, I think the best thing would be for the directive to be passed with the 21 cross-party amendments (read more about the Buzek-Rocard-Duff amendments here: http://wiki.ffii.org/AmPlenPr050701En [ffii.org] and here: http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/europarl0309/amends05 /komprom0506.en.pdf [ffii.org])

      Failing that we want a rejection of course...
    • Re:If only... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Antiocheian (859870)
      Rather different in my case...

      I've written to a large party in my country and they responded (quite extensively if I may say so) that they were against software patents. The other large party did not respond, but then I was informed from other FFII members that it was even more determined against patents (in the last vote).

      I think that after the referendums in France and Holand, the parliament understands that public opinion is not to be taken lightly. A large number of people will get enraged if software
    • Re:If only... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @06:40PM (#12989541) Homepage
      A few weeks ago I happened to be in conversation with a few people from the UK Patent Office (including one of their patent lawyers). I specifically voiced my concern about the proposed European patent laws regarding software and my worries that the EU was going to be moving towards the US model. I was told point blank that there is no way that this would happen.

      Of course I pointed out that I'd read various stories on the Internet and they assured me that a lot of it was political posturing and that it wouldn't go through.

      Don't know what to think about that really, but that's the word straight from the horse's mouth.

      (They had nothing to gain by telling me that either, I was originally talking with them about a trademark issue - the UK Patent Office handles that too).

      Bob
    • I have written to many of the MEP's involved. Most don't even respond. Others appear to be either blonde or bought...

      Really? I wrote to many of my country's MEPs and got responses on about 75% of them. Some were from secretaries with detailed outlines of the MEPs position (which did not always coincide with mine) and reasons for the position, some where signed by the MEP him/herself asking for additional questions.

      My mails where always polite and cited examples - in one mail I outlined multiple algorit

  • by suitepotato (863945) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:32PM (#12987998)
    ...from those of us living where government was too stupid to know the difference between copyrights and patents and has ignited a building war over what Intellectual Property should mean or be.

    Our prayers go with you.
    • where government was too stupid to know the difference between copyrights and patents

      Judging from what i've seen on Slashdot, the people -- even the ones that think they know everything about software -- aren't any smarter in this respect, either...

      • Indeed. It's funny how people go about lecturing others about IP issues here on slashdot and then they seem to use the words "patent", "trademark" and "copyright" (or even worse "copywrite") interchangeably.
    • ...from those of us living where government was too stupid to know the difference between copyrights and patents and has ignited a building war over what Intellectual Property should mean or be.

      I still don't understand much of these laws. They seem stupid and dumb to me, designed to protect the rich corporations, not people.

      Problem #1. What if there is an idea that everyone would have, but someone out there patents it first? Does that mean that everyone else can not use that idea for their own benifi

      • Problem #1. What if there is an idea that everyone would have, but someone out there patents it first? Does that mean that everyone else can not use that idea for their own benifit or profit? For example, the way something is sold on the internet.

        Ways of doing business are already being patented - look at the multiple Amazon cases. Most of these patents are painfully obvious but would still cost milion$ in court/lawyer fees to get revoked. The patent systems worldwide are effectively being used by big bus
      • ...as it quickly degenerates. Capitalism seems to me to be an intermediate state between anarchy and oligarchy.

        Just as the distribution of particles in a chemical suspension will not remain uniform without constant agitation, the distribution of economic power will not remain disbursed throughout the population without constant antitrust enforcement.

        It seems that we are seeing the tail end of this now.

        • ...as it quickly degenerates. Capitalism seems to me to be an intermediate state between anarchy and oligarchy.

          Unregulated capitalism? Is this a joke? Did I miss a sarcasm tag? Intellectual property only exists because of big daddy government helping out the corporate fat cats. You think those rich executives are in favor of laissez faire? Haha. That's a good one. This is not about capitalism. It's about rising fascism. It's about corporations teaming up with governments against a common enemy which wou
      • Accountants and lawyers in corporations like trading stuff.

        Being able to define software patents gives them more stuff to trade, at the same time making the company appear more valuable to shareholders.

        As another example, the concept of "carbon credits" has been proposed, where companies (and perhaps even individuals) get to trade the right to pollute the environment ie. they buy and sell credits which give them the right to use hydrocarbon based energy sources.

        Just something else to "trade" which was fr
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:56PM (#12988699)
        Problem #1. What if there is an idea that everyone would have, but someone out there patents it first?

        Then it shouldn't be granted a patent; one of the requirements is non-obviousness. This is why things like Amazon's "one click" patent are so frowned upon; they should never have been granted in the first place.

        Problem #2. What when this patent creates a monopoly. Does that mean everyone is stuck with having to pay extremely high prices, prices the market would never allow if there was competition?

        Erm... yes. That's the point. If you put in the time and money for the R&D, then the patent system is supposed to grant you a major competitive advantage (a short term monopoly) so that you can take advantage of your invention. If it's good enough that people want it straight away, they'll pay your price; if it's not, they can wait a while until the patent expires, and you won't make any money. Hence you have to charge a reasonable price.

        The problem, once again, isn't the principle of patents per se, it's that the period for which the monopoly is granted is excessive in a business as fast-moving as IT (and indeed several others). It doesn't take a decade to capitalise on a great technology idea in this day and age, it takes months.

        And an interesting question. Why can anyone make a tire? Nobody will sue Joe Blow because he starts a tire company. Now what if Ford decided to patent tires.

        Ford can't patent tyres; another requirement for granting a patent is the lack of "prior art", i.e., that no-one else has done it before.

        The answer to your tyre example, once again, is that Ford shouldn't be granted the patent for a change that is "simple and easy". And if Ford really do invest a large amount of time and money to develop a safer tyre, the patent scheme is there precisely to stop some rip-off merchant cloning the thing cheaply, since he doesn't have to recoup his investment from the profits he makes in manufacturing.

        What you're missing in saying that everyone should have access to those tyres at the cheap rate is that without the patent protection, they might never have been invented in the first place. The little guy certainly doesn't have the huge R&D resources Ford does, and if Ford doesn't see any competitive advantage from bringing its weight to bear on the problem, why would it do so?

        Of course there are ethical dilemmas where the industry concerned makes products related to health and safety. This happens with pharma companies all the time when it comes to places like Africa, who couldn't possibly afford the going rate in the US or Europe. The solution to this is simply to charge a realistic rate everywhere, which might not be the same rate everywhere. But even in this case, again you have to remember that not many people would invest in pharamceuticals if there was no scope for a reasonable ROI, and patents are the guarantee that when significant discoveries are made, that ROI will be forthcoming. Without the catalyst, you risk losing the whole process.

        In short, the principle of patents is fine. What's wrong is that they're routinely granted with inadequate checking for obviousness and prior art, they last too long for many industries, once an obvious patent is granted it can be absurdly difficult to get it thrown out, and the costs of patent lawsuits (like any other) are ludicrously prohibitive in some jurisdictions, meaning the little guy can't enforce his own patents, or defend against unjustified patent infringement claims by the big guy. Fix the system so it works properly, and the underlying principle is fine.

      • The patent system, when working properly, is not so bad.

        Problem #1 Should be addressed by the existing requirement that the invention not be obvious to a knowledgeable person in that field.

        Problem #2 Goes to the heart of the patent system. It is designed to create monopolies that cause higher prices. Getting a temporary monopoly is supposed to be the reward for putting in the R&D to make the invention in the first place.

        Let's assume that in your example the Ford invention was truly difficult. Without
      • I'm surprised this got modded up as much as it did. Because of this, I'll answer.

        I still don't understand much of these laws. They seem stupid and dumb to me, designed to protect the rich corporations, not people.

        Patent law exists for a reason; among other things, it keeps predatory groups (including rich corporations) from using small inventors as a free R&D playground. Imagine, you do all the work to develop a new product, then someone with $$$$ buys your product, reverse-engineers it, and sells a

        • Imagine, you do all the work to develop a new product, then someone with $$$$ buys your product, reverse-engineers it, and sells an exact copy on the street, for a lower price.

          Maybe that works when you are rich and can afford to defend your patent in court. Personally, I would never bother patenting an invention because I could never afford to sue anyone. Face it. Patents specifically and intellectual property in general are designed for and by those who already have gigantic piles of money. In other word
  • More details (Score:5, Informative)

    by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:34PM (#12988011)
    are available over at Groklaw [groklaw.net].

    • Re:More details (Score:2, Informative)

      by NicklessXed (897466)
      To those of you speaking german, I can only recommend the Spiegel-Article linked on groklaw. It's quite a nice overview imho (don't expect too many details or all the other stuff you are being fed here - Der Spiegel is pretty much mainstream).
  • ...but hope dies last. Let's see how it will end.
  • by tktk (540564) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:39PM (#12988056)
    No, it's not a dupe complaint.

    ...lawmakers do not plan to set forth a new version.

    I thought this was the 2nd or 3rd time that software patent directive has come up. How do anyone know that there won't be another version for us to talk about months from now?

    • by JPMH (100614) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:01PM (#12988231)
      I thought this was the 2nd or 3rd time that software patent directive has come up. How do anyone know that there won't be another version for us to talk about months from now?
      According to the rules, if it gets rejected outright by the Parliament tomorrow, it can't come back for at least three years (if ever).

      A more likely eventual route to "harmonisation" allowing software patents could be through decisions of a proposed Community-wide Patent Court, if the EU ever manages to agree to set the thing up.

      The CPC has been a long-standing goal of the EU system for a long time.

      • This is not true. Normally, the directive would go into conciliation and come back in better shape after a while as a compromise of the parliament and the council.

        However, the EU commission promised through a letter today that they would comply entirely with the Parliament, that is, if the Parliament ammends the directive, they would accept the ammendments, and if the directive was to be rejected, they wouldn't touch the issue anymore.

        Maybe they're afraid of ending up in the same way the EU council did:
  • by Gadzinka (256729) <rrw@hell.pl> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:39PM (#12988057) Journal
    Killing this directive is very dangerous since pro-patent lobbyists have already stated on record, that they want the directive in current shape or not at all.

    If the directive doesn't pass, they can still lobby individual governments.

    If the directive passes in castrated form with provisions preventing pure software and business method patents, member countries won't be able to enact legislation permitting it.

    So, what we, Europeans, really want is for the directive to pass in a form that once and for all prevents this abomination called software patents to be reborn.

    Robert
    • by SLi (132609) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:46PM (#12988108)
      True. However no directive is arguably a lot better than a bad directive, which really was (and still is) a close call. This way the doors are still open for anti-swpat lobbyists too.

      The pro-swpat people actually claim this is only for "harmonisation" of the current system. In a sense they have a point: I think one of the positive outcomes of no directive could be that even between two regimes that allow software patents enforcing them might be somewhat difficult.

      Of course a good directive would still be much better than this. But we'll wait and see the result tomorrow.
      • The EU commission has promised not to bring the issue back up, but like you I think we'll see it again in 2 years or something.

        However, for that matter, time is 100% on our side. First of all, we already convinced a lot of people that cannot be convinced of the inverse because they have the facts. Then, a new parliament usually has an interest to "continue the prior work", so if we have two rejection of the directive in the parliament, it's very unlikely that a third parliament is going to accept full pat
    • Title is incorrect. "Killing this directive is dangerous", but the parent /. poster is not.

      One is reminded of the infamous USAG John Ashcroft
      quote "In 1000 attempted terrorist attacks, we
      must be right 100% of the time. The terrorists
      need only be correct once."

      Defeating the EU software patent this time is
      important, as it must be every time such a bill
      reaches the EU ministers. The monopolistic
      corporations that sponser such bills need only
      be successful once (, and then it passes). The
      price of freedom is e
      • The problem with no directive is that it then leaves in place ability to lobby individual countries to allow software patents in their jurisdictions, for those countries which don't already allow them (I think Ireland, UK and Germany already allow them, I vaguely recall). The European Patent Office also already allows software patents.

        Any future harmonisation directive will then be even more difficult to pass, if it does not allow software patents.

        So we want a good directive ASAP.
    • I could not agree more.

      What's more is that this showed severe problems with the democratic processes in the EU.

      In September 2003 the EU parliament voted for a version of the directive that would have prevented software patents *and* provide a clear legal framework. As the parliament is the only elected entity in the EU that shouls have been the end of it! The fact that it wasn't shows that something is *fundamentally* wrong in the EU.

      I was always pro-EU but after this sobering experience I thank Fran

      • I live in France and FYI, all the fuss around that patents directive was a decisive argument for my vote against the constitutional proposal, where the Parliament (despite what was often said by the proponents of the text) was given hardly more power to oppose the European Council and the Commission, whereas the Commission, the Council and the Central Bank (all of which are unelected bodies) were given additional powers.
  • Give it time... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:41PM (#12988074) Journal
    The buisness people can and will pass any law they want on demand.

    The EU is still new. They have members voting on ideals, and what is best for the people. That will change.

    The USA is forcing its' system of government everywhere in the world. Soon, the "people" will elect thier new representatives. And the rich and wealthy businessmen will use their money to advertise candidates who are most favorable to their interests.

    As long as money = speech, the people are the ones who will keep getting screwed.

    As soon as money is taken out of politics, then people can debate which policy best fits their needs. But as long as 7 million dollars is spent on advterising about how the candidate is an asshole or fear, we are screwed. Can anyone in the USA honestly believe the pharmasutical companies advertising that drugs in Canada are dangerous for consumption in the USA? All the pharmasutical companies want to do is sell the exact same drugs in the USA at much higher prices. But when it comes to politics, there is no requirement that the truth is told.

    What will happen in the EU is the powerful and rich will get people into positions of power. It is like the MAFIA. For a long run, they worked the system. They took low level thugs and got them jobs in the police force. They paid for the education of lawyers, and got some elected as judges. Before you knew it, the MAFIA could sell drugs, even if there was a police officer watching. If some good and ethical cop arrested someone the MAFIA wanted to protect, there was a good chance they would get a judge which would throw out the charges.

    That is what the rich are doing. They are buying political offices. This will destroy the world, most will be forced in factories, into a slave like exsistance.

    • Re:Give it time... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:49PM (#12988130)
      The buisness people can and will pass any law they want on demand. The EU is still new.

      Hmm, but all its members have a very long history, and that history weighs on the entire union. It's not like the US, where the country was really made anew, since the settlers decided to break away from the British rule and decided to quietly forgot about the natives' existence when the constitution was made (not counting the French influence).

      Besides, look at the russian federation: it too is very new in a sense, much newer than the EU in fact, yet it's corrupt all the way to Putin, and businesses do whatever the hell they want provided they have money and don't step on the prez' toes.
    • Re:Give it time... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bedroll (806612)
      an anyone in the USA honestly believe the pharmasutical companies advertising that drugs in Canada are dangerous for consumption in the USA? All the pharmasutical companies want to do is sell the exact same drugs in the USA at much higher prices. But when it comes to politics, there is no requirement that the truth is told.

      I agree that the truth isn't being told about the pharmaceutical industry to the public. The thing is that they have tried telling the story in the past and the public doesn't want to l

    • Re:Give it time... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MenTaLguY (5483) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:40PM (#12988553) Homepage

      The EU is still new. They have members voting on ideals, and what is best for the people. That will change.

      I dunno. The impression I've gotten from watching this EU software patents thing play out over the past year or so is that it's already happened.

      The EU MPs vote on ideals. Sometimes. When their arms are twisted. Then the EC blatantly ignores them. Also, every once and a while the MPs will vote to explicitly cede a little more power to the EC.

      The checks on the EC's power are diminishing with time, and it's the EC that's already stuffed with folks beholden to business interests.

      However, except to the extent that US businesses are involved, I don't think it's fair to blame the US for this. The US didn't determine the structure of the EU, and issues of corruption are universal. The US could drop off the face of the earth, tomorrow, and your analysis of the weaknesses of representative democracy in the media age would still hold.

      But ... nor do I think it is appropriate to blame representative democracy per se; elected MPs have been the sole (if inconsistent) hedge against the unelected EC which has been trying to repeatedly hammer through software patents. The biggest failings of the EU government to serve the needs of its people (versus businses) appear to be in its least representative-democratic portions.

      Out of curiousity, if it were up to you alone, what system of government would you choose for Europe?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:44PM (#12988096)
    NI! NI!

    Your proposed law was a hamster, and software patents smell of elderberries. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second taah-me.
  • I feel sorry for the MEP's as the well-connected call them on the phone in the wee hours of the morning to try and persuade them not to vote against the bill.

    If this is rejected then I have a paraphrase from Star Wars Eposode IV: "Don't underestimate the lobbyists, they'll be back and in greater numbers"
    • The pro-patent MEPs and especially the lobbyists have lost a great deal of credibility in this second reading. The EU commission and especially the council of ministers has lost a significant amount of authority in trying to push this directive through without discussion and proper conciliation. They have put quite a lot of political risk trying to push this directive through. It's going to be very hard for them to try and push a third radical approach.

      If we get this directive rejected in second reading,
  • by Anonymous Coward
    if eu rejects this, i'm relocating my business to europe.

    6 new jobs over there is a pittance, but an eu WITHOUT software patents is where i want to do business.

    adios corporate america.
  • by KnightTristan (882222) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:50PM (#12988136)
    On one hand it is a good thing, but on the other if there's not gonna be a new revised legislation that prohibits software patents, that still leaves the door open for each country to _allow_ software patents.

    So MEPs, try harder!

    Tristan.
  • The bill stops short of the U.S. system that allows patenting of business methods or computer programs such as Amazon.com Inc.'s "one-click" shopping technique, which gives consumers a quick system to buy goods on its Web site.

    I always thought this measure was just like the US one that allows the crazy patents. Maybe it isn't evil after all.

    The bill -- which would extend patent protection to computer programs when the software is used in the context of realizing inventions...

    Wait, that sound

    • by Znork (31774) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:09PM (#12988286)
      "I always thought this measure was just like the US one that allows the crazy patents."

      It is. The trouble is that the pro-SW patent lobbyist claim to not want SW patents, as saying they want them would make their position hopeless. The major proponents have been linked time after time with organisations that have _no_ interest outside software or business method patents.

      So instead they claim they dont want software patents, then turn around and lobby against any changes that would ban software patents. If, at any time, they're confronted on this inconsistency they ignore, avoid the question or divert the subject.

      "Can someone tell me if I'm missing something?"

      Indeed, yes, you are.

      "If so, maybe it is time to say that this measure is okay."

      And there you have the reason. The exact target response the obfuscation is intended to create.

      It's hard to tell the difference, even for people who've followed the debate for years on end, so it's no wonder that people fall for it.
    • Can someone tell me if I'm missing something?

      Yes. You are missing the part about software being a series of zeros and ones, a form of code, a form of communication with a computer. Patents should not apply to it any more than it would to language or mathematics. A series of opcodes and operands is really a combination of both language and mathematics. If you can patent software you should also be able to patent abstract ideas/thoughts, sentences, block diagrams, speech patterns, sounds, philosophies... Y
    • I always thought this measure was just like the US one that allows the crazy patents. Maybe it isn't evil after all.

      The problem with this bill is that it suggests software as such cannot be patented.
      Just consider Articel 4A of the directive:

      "A computer program as such cannot constitute a patentable invention."

      Sounds good, doesn't it? At least until you realize that a "program as such" is a specific creation - like a book or film - which is already protected by copyright. The wording is ambiguous, e

    • What you are missing is that the reporter did a piss-poor job.

      >The bill -- which would extend patent protection to computer programs when the software is used in the context of realizing inventions...

      Wait, that sounds logical.


      Of course it sounds logical. BOTH sides want to allow patents on inventions and only on inventions. The problem is that the two sides are using different definitions for "invention".

      According to the anti-SW-patent side "invention" means some new physical object or some new phy
  • So assuming that the European Union adopts a more "lenient" patent law, what will happen when American companies start suing europeans because they are "violating" their god like patents?

    We all know that Americans are not liable on international courts but they can sure drag anyone they wish to their courts so they can get "justice" done.

    The only solution is for foreign firms to license their technology/services to whatever bully is enforcing the most patents. Look at the current situation with RIM and th
    • Re:Legal Scenarios (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Flyboy Connor (741764) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:43PM (#12988585)
      So assuming that the European Union adopts a more "lenient" patent law, what will happen when American companies start suing europeans because they are "violating" their god like patents?

      It depends. Suppose a European firm tries to sell a product in the US that violates some US software patent. Then the firm can be sued in the US. Or, if a European firm has a subsidiary in the US which produces software that violates a US software patent, even if the product is meant for the European market. Again, the firm can be sued in the US. However, as long as the firm is located outside the US, and does not export to the US, it is basically safe (except maybe for a "nukular" threat, but I suppose not even W will go that far).

      The funny thing is that a European firm that develops a "new" software concept might get it patented in the US. The net result, without software patents in Europe, is that in Europe many competing businesses might create products based on this "idea", while in the US there will be only one firm that is allowed to sell this product. Imagine what will happen to the price and quality of such a product. I expect that US citizens will get mightly jealous of the great software Europeans are allowed to use for little money, while the US is stuck with one piece of expensive crap. Maybe then the US will get rid of its software patents.

      • It doesn't matter where the company is located or where the product is produced. It only matters where the product is sold.

        So both European and US companies can be sued (and lose) for patents violations when selling in the US but not the EU.

        Which is why it is so stupid when european companies threaten to move to move the productions to US and India if they cannot get software patents in EU. They might move production to India anyway, but not because of Patents.
  • by Klact-oveeseds-tene (780969) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @03:58PM (#12988210)
    What would be rejected is the proposed EU directive harmonizing the national laws on software patents. Even without such a law, thousands of software patents have been granted by the European Patent Office, by bending the exclusion of the patentability of "software as such". Judges are likely to interpret the law similarly.

    Software patents do exist in Europe and the only way to make them invalid is a directive that effectively excludes software from patentability. So the rejection of the proposed (pro-softpat) text does not really solve the problem.
    • AFAIK the EPO has been granting those patents in anticipation of coming laws. But none of those patents has actually been used in court to limit others from using the patented technique. The patents are not really in force and are not being enforced.
    • Software patents do exist in Europe and the only way to make them invalid is a directive that effectively excludes software from patentability. So the rejection of the proposed (pro-softpat) text does not really solve the problem.

      true, but the SWPats that have been granted have been granted illegally and (as far as I know) have not been enforced yet in Europe (because enforcing illegal patents implies the significant risk of loosing them). So, yes, the rejection does not solve the problem, but at least

  • by N3wsByt3 (758224) <Newsbyte@fr[ ]ethelp.org ['een' in gap]> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:21PM (#12988384) Homepage Journal
    Manifesto on the directive of "computer implemented inventions"

    Dear MEP,

    As you are probably well aware, soon the EU parliament will have a 'second reading' of the directive for allowing patents on "computer implemented inventions", which, as I will show below, actually amount to allowing software patents (swpat), though this is heavily disputed and denied by the proponents of the directive, including the European Commission (EC).

    The way in which this directive has gone through the EU Council of ministers is mind boggling and shows exactly how much the EU has a democratic deficit. Despite the fact there was no real majority for the draft any more (the change in vote-weight after the enlargement alone accomplished that, apart from a lot of change of minds of some other countries), despite the fact that stringent motions of national parliaments were passed to oblige the national ministers to redraw the proposal as an A-item so that it may be further discussed, despite the fact that the EU parliament and their JURY-commission asked for a new first (re)reading with almost unanimity, the EC chose to ignore and disregard all this, while giving no explanation, apart from "for institutional reasons as to not create a precedent". In other words, the "common position" had to be followed, even though there was no common position any more, because, apparently, the form is more important then the facts.

    This is a stupefying prime example of absurd bureaucratic reasoning and mentality; to give more importance to formality, and to place appearances before the changing facts. Bureaucracy abhors changes, even to the detriment of real democratic values. But then again, maybe this shouldn't surprise us, as the EC is exactly that: bureaucrats, whom were never voted into the position they occupy, yet create laws that could potentially influence millions of EU citizens (to which they do not have to answer to). The EU constitution leaves this democratic deficit as it is, alas. And as seen by the handling of this directive, the deficit is pretty huge.[1]

    I will not go further into the procedural mess and the apparent disrespect of the EC for the EU parliament, but rather concentrate on the different aspects of the directive itself (content). I will do this by stating, and then debunking, the rather dubious claims and arguments made by the pro-directive camp, which, alas, also include some misguided MEPs - though I haste myself to say the large majority of the EU parliament is well aware of the facts, as can be readily seen by the amendments made in the first reading.

    The following statements for why it is necessary to have the (current) directive is as follows:

    1)It is necessary for the stimulation and development of new software, so that IT-companies can be innovative to the fullest of their potential.

    2)It is necessary for the stimulation of EU software business, so we can effectively compete on the world-market.

    3)It is needed for the harmonisation of the internal market, and to retain the status quo. (Similar as the "we do not change the current practise" or the "it will avoid drifting towards US-style patentability" -argument).

    I will now debunk all these arguments (sources mentioned at the end of the document) in a rational and clear way, instead of all the FUD currently being made by many of the softwarepatents (swpat) proponents.

    1)It is necessary for the stimulation and development of new software, so that IT-companies can be innovative to the fullest of their potential.

    First of all, we have to ask ourselves, what, exactly, a patent is. A lot of pro-swpat advocates use terms as Intellectual Property (IP) rights, while those encompass a lot of different concepts, such as copyright (which is already used for software). We can find the following definition:

    A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor or applicant for a limited amount of time (normally 20 years from the filing date)... Per the word'
    • Oh, please. As if this site didn't already post enough anti software patent propaganda (real actual arguments are scarce), now you had to do it, too. Cut this copy-pasting out, okay? Noone will never read these long comments anyway. Or if you really have to do it, then at least have the decency to either name your source or slip a clever troll somewhere in the middle of the text. Is it a deal?
      • Is it a deal?

        Nope.
      • But, to be a bit more elaborate:

        "Oh, please. As if this site didn't already post enough anti software patent propaganda"

        Not really. At least in my opinion. But that is higly subjective, since 'enough' is in the eye of the beholder. And so is 'propaganda'.

        "(real actual arguments are scarce)"

        Only if you refuse to acknowledge them as arguments.

        ", now you had to do it, too."

        Indeed.

        "Cut this copy-pasting out, okay?"

        Nope. I don't even see why I should. It's my text, I wrote it, so I can copy/paste it as m
        • I'm sorry for not having taken the time to actually read your post. However, i am not going to apologise for what i said. The following is not an apology :7 I'm quite fed up with all the anti-patent boo-hoo-hooing on Slashdot with practically noone posting any actual arguments why software patents are bad (hell, many of these people can't even tell the difference between patents and copyrights, yet still feel obliged to post their opinion). Many of these posts are copy-pastes from some anti-patent propagand
        • I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

          Actually, i just wanted to say that i'm sorry for not reading your comment, but i'm just so fed up with the constant anti-patent boo-hoo-hooing that goes on on Slashdot that when i saw (and skimmed) your comment, my first reaction was to post a cheap flame.

          However, now that you've mentioned appendices and references, you've managed to raise my curiosity. I'd read the whole thing with the appendices, but anything longer than five

      • Fuckwit.

        Frankly if you can't recognise three or four pages of well-reasoned argument, logical conclusions drawn from those arguments, and can't comprehend of someone taking the time to write a lucid explanation of such an important issue with the aim of avoiding one of the more cataclysmic developments in modern computing, maybe you're the one who should stop posting. Deal?

        And for reference, I read the whole thing, and found it fascinating (if slightly repetitive and in need of some proofreading). Fuckw
        • I was going to take time, read his piece and post an actual reply to him, but you've just made me change my mind about it, so i only have two words for you: 'fuck' and 'you'. And i also would like you to know that i'd fucking foe you if it wasn't for my principles (never foe anyone!) and the fact that it'd be a waste of perfectly good friend points.

          Thank you for your time. Next!

        • I wrote a multi-paragraph reply to your comment, but Slashdot ate it. And now i just cannot be bothered to retype it, so i'll just sum it up in two words: Fuck you.

          Thank you for your time. Next, please!

  • by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:46PM (#12988618)
    "Two other European legislators from Germany who have favored stronger software-patent protections also have industry ties. One works with another top patent-law firm, and another sits on the board of U.S. software giant Veritas Software Corp. and holds options to buy 85,416 shares of Veritas stock, according to U.S. securities filings."

    How on earth do we end up with a legislator that not only has outside interests, but outside American interests?

  • Steady On (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @04:53PM (#12988671) Homepage Journal
    Keep up the pressure, Euros. If you keep intellectual assets clear of the antiquated shackles of American-style Intellectual Property, more inventors will work in your more-favorable environment. That could provide Americans leverage to reform our broken system. If you fail, it's another nail in everyone's coffin. Yep, I said "pressure".
  • by UnapprovedThought (814205) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @05:03PM (#12988764) Journal

    Ask yourself: do you benefit from software patents?

    I know I don't, especially in light of the quality of the latest "innovations" that are really just a reworded version of the same junk. Software patents have only been a hindrance to me. They're only a bane and a bother to 99.9999% of the population. Why should almost everyone's time be wasted with increasingly ridiculous nonsense that benefits almost no one, stifles technology use and acceptance and doesn't really succeed in identifying and rewarding all of the innovators? Even the officially sanctioned innovators don't receive that much in return once all of the lawyers and filings and other administrative overhead eat up the profits. So, it benefits only a few people and the rest of us bear the costs in the form of wastes of time, service interruptions, higher product and service costs, responding to legal claims, etc.

    Does an art museum interrupt and charge a painter for each brushstroke that resembles someone else's painting? It's not worth their time. Similarly, software patents are not worth our time at the level they want to enforce them. Instead it just costs us an environment in which to innovate freely.

  • don't be confused (Score:2, Informative)

    by sum.zero (807087)
    it is the big business/pro sw patent interests that are now acting to defeat the bill. they are doing this because it suits them better to game the individual nations' patent systems then to accept a watered-down proposal. they want it all, now.

    this is not the end of sw patents in europe, it's just a continuation of business as normal...

    sum.zero
  • Not enough (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Silkejr (856308) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @06:23PM (#12989386)
    Rejecting the bill isn't enough. There now needs to be a major push for a bill to permanently keep software patents from ever becoming law.
  • It was rejected! (Score:3, Informative)

    by q.kontinuum (676242) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @06:57AM (#12992718)
    The patent directive was rejected! 640 votes for rejection, 18 against rejection!
  • Just to round of the thread, the actual vote against software patents was 648-14 with 18 abstentions. http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000006& sid=a.QckuA8V3H8&refer=home [bloomberg.com]
    ``We buried a bad law and did so without flowers,'' Eva Lichtenberger, a member of the parliament from Austria's Green party, told reporters.

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