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European Software Patents Not Dead Yet 331

Ensign Nemo writes "Software patents in Europe still being pushed. They're at it again and they're not waisting any time. Even though opposition is there the backers of software patents are getting sneakier and sneakier." Poland, if you help us out again, I pledge to never, ever forget you.
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European Software Patents Not Dead Yet

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  • Oops. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    They're at it again and they're not waisting any time.

    Would you say they're throwing there weight around?

    • I'd say "there throwing their wait around" if I were the Anonymous Coward but I'm not so I'll just get modded down for trolling instead.
  • by Azh Nazg ( 826118 )
    Should I interpret this as "European Software Patents 'Not Dead Yet'"?
    • I immediately thought of Monty Python's Holy Grail scene:

      Large Man with Dead Body: Here's one.
      The Dead Collector: That'll be ninepence.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
      The Dead Collector: What?
      Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There's your ninepence.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not dead.
      The Dead Collector: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.
      Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.
      The Dead Body That Claims It Isn't: I'm not.
      The Dead Collector: He isn't.
      Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he wil
    • Should I interpret this as "European Software Patents 'Not Dead Yet'"?

      Right. Just a flesh wound.
    • Sure. The directive will probably pass to second reading, because Poland will not block it this time -- too much pressure from other countries.
  • Stay tuned (Score:5, Informative)

    by Staplerh ( 806722 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @12:53AM (#11428676) Homepage
    Hmm. Guess we'll have to wait until next Monday for more definate information. From TFA:

    That the matter would be settled for good next Monday, Luxembourgs Economics Minister Jeannot Krecke for one announced at a meeting of the European Parliament's Legal Committee this Wednesday.

    Hmm.. Guess we'll get yet ANOTHER Slashdot story on Monday - if Ms. Krecke is correct in her prediction. Oh well, this is a matter of importance and I suppose as many news stories/comments as we can read, the better informed we'll all be on the subject!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    er, "wating" for confirmation from Netcraft.
  • by dweezil-n0xad ( 743070 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @01:05AM (#11428756) Homepage
    This reminds me, next month is FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers' European Meeting) in Brussels: []. I suggest we raid the EU headquarters and talk some sense into the EU ministers.
  • Execs are blasted as "fat cats", politicians are accused of pork barreling, it's no wonder they're all getting overweight.
  • no duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edward.virtually@pob ( 6854 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @01:20AM (#11428856)
    of course they're not dead. software patents benefit the corporations that control the governments, so they will eventually be installed in all countries. you'd think people would get the message from the backdoor process that was used to almost install them on eu countries this time. don't count on stopping it again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @01:42AM (#11428955)
    "....the Ministers of Agriculture in their meeting of the EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries on Monday are to give the nod to the controversial position of the EU Council of Ministers on the Directive on the Patentability of "computer-implemented inventions"".

    Isn't that a bit like asking the Minister of Defence if they think the tax system should be revised? Or asking the Minister for Education what his thoughts are on creating a new highway?

    I'm beginning to see why so many Europeans don't take the EU seriously.
    • Yes, it is sort of like that. I do believe that it is illegal for them to do it (correct me if I'm wrong).

      And many Europeans are always pissed on the Council and their undemocratic methods (they are not directly elected, but they have lawmaking power).

      The thing is that ppl are complaining on the Council and the lack of democracy in the EU and at the same time, the same ppl are crying out loud on every attempt to move power from the Council to the Parlament (they are basically afraid of the superstate of E
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You're absolutely right. The agriculturalists are the main beneficiaries of "Europe" and a complete industry has been created on subsidies.

      Besides that, they have absolutely no business discussing, let alone deciding, on the software patents issue. They have absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the subject matter.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is, as far as I know, pretty much the same as when other, sometimes totally unrelated, decisions are piggybacked onto a bill that is to be aproved by congress. I.e. a small decission that has been agreed upon and passed on just to expediate the process.

      In the EU council this procedure seems to be called A-list agendas. Things on the A-list agenda is supposed to be agreed upon beforehand and should be possible to go to vote on without any discussion.

      OTOH I just might be smoking crack and pulling all o
  • it is for all developers and techlogist to go on strike until it is against WTO policy for a country to have software patents.

    It would be in place in a week.

  • Q: How many polocks does it take to stop software patents from being created in Europe?
    A: A simple majority.

    Wait. That's not funny.
  • Take 5 minutes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrisvdb ( 149510 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @03:11AM (#11429327)
    ... and write to your minister of agriculture, if you're a EU citizen!

    Let them know that software patents are important enough to deserve a proper discussion in the parliament. Add why *you* think they are important (and wrong).

    For the Belgians and the Dutch: [].
    For the rest of us: [].

    Please, take this 5 minutes, it's worth it.

  • by Handbrewer ( 817519 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @04:13AM (#11429550) Homepage
    Supporting Open Source software by not introducing software patents is the best thing we can do for our trade balance. By using more and more Open Source instead of paying overseas countries for commodity software like Operating Systems and Office suites the more likely it is that Europes own software packages sell more than we import from Oracle, Microsoft, Adobe etc.

    That is a solid argument for the MEPs. Something they can understand.

    Im all for copyright legislation because it protects Open Source aswell as commercial endeavours - that is very important, but patents on software algorithm and ideas should not be possible, next thing you know someone is patenting pi - or atleast the first five decimals :).
    • The MEPs are against software patents in the majority. They actually started listening after all their constituants wrote to them and told them how bad software patents would be.

      The vote went against patents in the European Parliament but despite that, thanks to ample pressure from big, largely US based, business interests, the European council of ministers seems determined to force the legislation through.

      This is one of the reasons that it's actually had some level of mainstream media coverage, because i
  • by borgheron ( 172546 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @05:08AM (#11429740) Homepage Journal
    Eventually someone's bound to slip up and say "YES".

  • by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:28AM (#11429982) Homepage Journal
    On the 13th Jan, I received the following (extract) from the UK Labour Party group of MEPs:

    "The Labour MEPs' position is reflected in the amendments we tabled and voted for in the Parliament's report on the Commission proposal on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. In short, the position remains:

    . No US-style patenting of software.
    . Software as such, must not be patented. No patenting of business methods or "general ideas"
    . Opensource software must be allowed to flourish and the Commission must ensure that this Directive does not have any adverse effect on opensource software and small software developers.
    . Patents and the threat of litigation must not be used as an anti-competitive weapon to squeeze out small companies."

    I'm not sure what they intend to do about this latest news. Email/snailmail all takes so-o-o-o long and I wonder whether it's just assistants sending stock replies...
  • In Germany... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharonX ( 522492 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @06:58AM (#11430071) Journal
    In Germany there is a huge majority in the parliament (with supporters from EVERY party) that is AGAINST software patents.
    Sadly, the parliaments "delegate" to this EU meeting (Federal Minister of Agriculture) Renate Künast has gone into a "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" mode, so demands that she stands up against the EU directive will probably fall on deaf ears.
  • EPO rulez!!! (Score:4, Informative)

    by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @07:23AM (#11430173) Homepage Journal
    This so-called 'A-item' should not have been put before the committe in the first place as it disregards the rules for placing these items. The (unelected, govt. appointed) EU Commission (as usual) is simply making up its own rules as it goes along.

    With this sort of arrogant crap we constantly suffer from the Commission, is it any wonder that even if this item is thrown out, we still might not win. The European Patent Office can still do its own thing. Don't believe me? The EPO is not bound by many of the laws or regulations that most of the citizens of Europe take for granted, such as the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Some examples:
    . The Employment Law offers the staff extremely limited protection. Staff can be dismissed almost at will by the President and have no claims to unemployment pay or other social security payments
    . Basic legal rights are ignored. The President is the ultimate ruler of the EPO. He is judge, jury and executioner. His decisions on matters within the office are final. Any decision made by the President can be enacted immediately. There is no "stay of execution" pending the outcome of appeal hearings. Sanctions are arbitrary and harsh.
    . Even criminal law is disregarded: In 1995 the then President of the EPO physically attacked and injured a staff member, the Administrative Council of the EPO subsequently refusing to lift the immunity of the President.
  • by eetiiyupy ( 746129 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @08:33AM (#11430445)
    Try to catch the BBC Radio 4 programme in business [] this week (warning the schedule info is correct but the content is still on last week's programme). I expected this to be just the normal corporate b/s, but it was in fact more interested in problems in the USA, particularly in patent examination. There are representatives on both sides of the argument, but I would have the "say no to patent expansion" side winning. There is a repeat on Sunday evening 21:30GMT. I don't know if the "listen again" has moved to the current edition yet - as I say, the web site is stuck on last week.
  • EPO Technical FX... (Score:3, Informative)

    by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Friday January 21, 2005 @08:56AM (#11430555) Homepage Journal
    The EPO is stating that: A computer program can be patented as such, if it has a "further technical effect". But practically any solution to a computing problem constitutes a "further technical effect".

    The EPO further declares that the "arrangement or manner of representation", may as well constitute a patentable technical feature. And examples which are given include pulse code modulation or a measuring instrument which produces a particular form of graph for representing the measured information and a computer data structure. This means that according to the EPO's guidelines, the order of information in a data structure could be patented if accessing the data structure is claimed. Yes!! I claim Name and Address (and Address and Name, to be on the safe side)!

    As the FFI points out:

    The most frequently used rhetorical trick of the Council paper works as follows: [A] is not patentable, unless [condition B] is met. But, upon close scrutiny, it turns out that condition B is always met.

    It gets worse.

    The wording "normal physical interaction between a program and the computer" means about as much as "normal physical interaction between a recipe and the cook", that is: nothing. It is a magic formula whose usage can be inferred only from recent decisions of the EPO, in which it served to justify the granting of patents on geometrical calculation rules to IBM. In the present case, according to the EPO, the "further technical effect beyond ..." consisted in the economisation of space on a computer screen. Wow! Novel or what?

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead