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Euro Patent Restart Demand Repeated by Parliament 204

sebFlyte writes "ZDNet UK is reporting that the European Parliament's Conference of Presidents has ratified and repeated the demands of the Parliament for the computer-implemented inventions directive to be sent back to the drawing board, even though the Commission has refused to re-start it after previous demands. From the article: "It is not certain that the Commission will comply with the request of the Parliament, nor that it will use the opportunity to draft a good text ... The new Commission is not obliged to follow the Parliament's request and they might still try to keep all options open and ask the Council to adopt the agreement of last May without a new vote, so as to gain even more options for themselves."
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Euro Patent Restart Demand Repeated by Parliament

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  • Profit Anyone? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordPhantom ( 763327 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:53PM (#11701938)
    FTA [i]Hugo Lueders, the director of public policy at pro-patent organisation CompTIA, is also unsure what will happen next. He contends that software patents are needed to ensure that the EU can keep to the goals set by the "Lisbon Agenda" --- that the EU will become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.[/i] Does that comment sound like: 1. Establish Software Patents 2. ??????? 3. Thriving and Inventive Computer Industry (ha!) 4. Profit! to anyone else?!?
  • Twats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:54PM (#11701946) Homepage Journal
    I consider myself a pro-European Brit, but the intransigence and power of the unelected Commision to act in the face of the elected Parliament makes me foam at the mouth like Norman Tebbit. Is it really so hard for them to see that those with a mandate should be sovereign?

    I want a close and strong European Union -- I just don't want this European Union.
    • Re:Twats (Score:5, Funny)

      by stupidfoo ( 836212 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:14PM (#11702255)
      I think an oversight committee elected by members of Parliment to oversee the members of the unelected commission is clearly in order!
    • The main power that the parliament has is to remove the commissioners from office and replace them. Something they should consider if the commission keeps ignoring them.
    • Couldn't agree more.

      What, after all, is the point in going through to all the trouble of an electoral process is a bunch of failed has-been politicians who are appointed with no direct electoral mandate can overrule with no justification required?

      I remember in the 80s/90s one euro commissioner - Martin Bangemann (German) who spent an inordinate amount of time trying to limit motorcycle power output to 99bhp. Funnily enough, the only manufacturer whose entire product range already met this criteria was BMW
    • The European parliament is a fairly untested body as such bodies go (the first direct elections were held in 1979) and it's not clear that voters pay much attention to its election (voter turnout is generally low). Therefore, it was prudent not to transfer too much power to it right away.

      The Commission itself is unelected, but it is composed of representatives from democratically elected member governments. That's no different from when a group of foreign ministers get together and hammer out agreements
      • In most (all?) european countries the governments are not elected but appointed to have the largest possible power-base in their national parliament.

        Here in Denmark, for example, the government is appointed by our Queen. Our queen is the only danish citizen that is not allowed to have a political opinion (at least not publicly), so she is supposed to select the government that is best for Denmark, regardless of politics. Our democratically elected parliament can at any time sack our government with a simp

        • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:17PM (#11704644)
          You're confusing two issues: how your national government is brought into power and how that reflects on the European Commission.

          You have a system by which you get a government and, for better or for worse, that government represents you. One of the things that government does is represent your interests in international bodies, including the EU. If you aren't happy with the way you get your government, that's a national problem. You could guillotine your queen and have a revolution, for example. However, most people do actually consider Denmark a democracy. Furthermore, I suspect your government would actually be free to ask the people and hold a referendum on its Commissioners.

          If your government isn't acting the way your parliament wants it to, it sounds like your parliament has the option of dissolving it (I don't know how Danish government works), but apparently it doesn't care enough about this issue to take that step. That's not unusual, and it's by design: democracy does not mean that the majority, or even the majority of representatives, gets their will on every issue. It's similar in the US, where the Senate and the House are two separate bodies that control each other, and the executive branch has a lot of separate powers, and they aren't all always consistent with each other.

          Historically, the Commission makes sense; giving lots of power to the European Parliament overnight would have been insane since people had no idea of how the politics would work out, while the Commission grew out of the mechanisms all member states were already using for interacting. Again, I don't like many of the decisions the Commission has been making, and it sounds like it's time to give more power to the European Parliament. But the fact that things are the way they are isn't the result of some insane European bureaucracy or anti-democratic movement, it's the prudent and natural way to achieve what the European Union is trying to achieve. European Parliament could easily have turned out to be a bunch of anti-democratic hoodlums and kooks, in which case we'd all be grateful that we didn't hand over power over our lives to them.
          • Your comment is very insightful, and if I was a moderator I would have modded it up.

            I do not want to guillotine our queen and have a president instead, as I prefer a non-political head of State over a president.

            But I would prefer if decisions by our parliament would be binding to our government. If that was the case for all EU governments, the software patent directive would have been dead now. (And Denmark would not (for the first time since 1864) have gone to war (against Iraq), since there was a mass

            • But I would prefer if decisions by our parliament would be binding to our government.

              Well, again, I don't know the Danish system, but your parliament probably has that power: they can restrict your government from negotiating, voting, and/or otherwise engage in conduct that would oblige Denmark to implement software patents. The details of how to do this within your constitution (or basic law or whatever it is called) may be legally tricky, but there almost certainly would be a way.

              A lot of politics wor
    • "I want a close and strong European Union -- I just don't want this European Union."

      That is exactly my sentiment too.

      I don't mind giving more power to the EU (with some cultural safeguards, ofcourse), but not to this kind of undemocratic crap. One should resist the powergrabbing of the EU with all means, as long as a bunch of unelected bureaucrats are calling the shots.
    • I want a close and strong European Union -- I just don't want this European Union

      Worry not.
      Soon, Dubya will make allegations of the EU's hidden WMD programs, and Airbus' corrupt "Planes for Food" scandal, and things will work out from there. . .
    • It WOULD be interesting to know what aspect of the European Union Constitution lets a minority like some committee claim the power to ignore the requests of the elected representatives.

      Can some sort of intragovernmental lawsuit be filed, to put the greedy ones in their place?
    • I agree 100%. Until this software patents debacle I felt proud and forward-looking to call myself a European. But this crap plays right into the hands of the "Little Englanders". Worse, it resurrects all the conspiracy theories about the EU having been conceived by a corrupt plutocracy in the first instance.

      Until the Commission and the Council of Ministers prove that they will abide by the will of the people, I want no more part of it.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:57PM (#11702011) Homepage Journal
    I'd patent Paper-Shuffling, foot-dragging and obfuscation, but I see there's Prior Art.

    The players:

    European Parliament's Conference of Presidents

    the Commission

    the Parliament

    The new Commission

    the Council

    Ok, I'm lost. Though I think I can see why nothing's happening.

    It reminds me of a The Committee Game someone wrote on our PDP11 about 25 years ago. (The committee forms to form a plan of action to deal with the nefarious Kally Spaeth, but first they head up to McDonalds for refreshments in the arcane Dodge Dart, and generally it's a lot of running around without actually doing anything about the nefarious Kally Spaeth. I think it was in parody.)

  • by delta_avi_delta ( 813412 ) <dave,murphy&gmail,com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:02PM (#11702076)
    ...when a body which purports to be democratic does not listen to those who represent the people. We have spoken, we have shouted, we have sent you nasty emails. If the bill gets carried, it will indicate that the European Union is designed to give people the appearance of having democratic power with the parliament, while the real power resides with commission, who seem emminantly influenced by big business.
    • In other words, the European system isn't working any better that the American system.

      Hmmm. As geeks we know what to do when a system becomes unresponsive . . . REBOOT!

      • I like to login via a terminal and stark killing processes, myself.
      • Is that there's a "Make it look like the people have a say unless it goes against our corporate interests." This appears to be the case in Europe and the USA.

        In the USA: Corporation pays candidate huge bribes^wcampaign donations. Candidate passes laws for corporations. If public gets bent too out of shape about something, candidate helps pass some half-ass law that won't address the problem and shows the public something shiny to distract them.

        In Europe: Unelected and unaccountable organizations bow to

    • Normally I read people outside the US saying interesting (negative) things about how our country looks from the outside. I have to say the EU is looking rather bad in this case. Questions that come to mind:

      Who is in charge over there?
      How is the government supposed to work?
      Why do they vote on some things and not others?
      Are there multiple mechanisms to pass laws?

      Are the "parliament" and the "commission" similar to our "house" and "senate"?? That would explain the back and forth, but it doesn't look like

      • The commission is the executive branch ... like the cabinet ... the parliament is the legislative branch.

      • Ok, I'm far from an expert, but this is what I know (largely culled from

        The EU is not, yet, the government of europe. Each member state (UK, France, Poland etc) has their own internal government. Which powers the national governments have delegated in whole or in part to the EU is governed by a series of treaties. These treaties include managing the euro, human rights, environmental law, regional development and trade regulation, off the top of my head. Foreign policy and national taxation
    • by Nicolas MONNET ( 4727 ) <> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:58PM (#11702887) Journal
      Anti-EU people take this example to denigrate the integration process, but in fact it shows that MORE integration is necessary.

      For instance the parliament still has little power, but without it this directive would have been passed months ago. Without EU at all, it would have been passed years ago under pressure from US-based megacorporations.

      I'd say that even though the situation is dangerous, it shows that the European parliament is perfectly doing its job and representing the will of the European people, and counterbalancing the ivory power that is the Commission. In particular, kudos to Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister and one of the main forces in this legislative fight. A friend of mine met him when he was just starting to discover the issue; and he was pleasantly suprised to find how he listened to anti patent arguments and quickly acquired knowledge and decided to act.
    • You'll frequently see ammendements to bills that were defeated in the House and/or Senate become part of the final legislation anyways because the conference committee added it in.

      Then in the final vote, you have to either vote to support the final bill and the hundreds of billions of dollars of pork or risk being branded as being "against our troops, our country and our freedom".

      Something analogous to this is happening in the EU at the moment. The Commission can't enact the law on its own but it does con
  • OK, question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:07PM (#11702150)
    If the commish ignored the last demand, why would they pay attention to this one? Or is this just for the parliament to make their objections absolutely clear?

    Also, question: Is the EU parliament in the end going to be, or are they right now, as pissed off about this as Slashdot seems to be? I mean, whether the parliament cares about patents or not, you'd think. In the U.S. if a branch of government got outright snubbed like this they'd probably wind up doing everything in their power to kill the idea of software patents forever, even if they didn't really care about software patents, just out of spite
    • It's funny; I doubt the average MEP (Member of the European Parliament) really gives that much of a shit about software patents.

      However, I am sure as hell that they do not like being ignored. Having your powerlessness so exposed is like having someone insult your mother - it makes you very, very angry.

      I wouldn't be surprised (well, I would, if only a little bit) if the EU Parliament (again) excercised their right to completely kick-out the Commission. It would be a constitutional crisis, albeit probably a
    • Re:OK, question (Score:5, Informative)

      by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:53PM (#11702817) Homepage Journal
      IIRC, the Parliament can dissolve the Council (or Commission?) with a vote of no confidence. They obviously wouldn't do that just on a whim, but they might if the other bodies ignore repeated demands from different portions of the Parliament.

      This is a bit like the US legislature. They can pass laws, but the Justice Department can fail to enforce them (or the FCC can ignore them, etc.). If the Executive Branch department fails to respond, they can complain to the President, who can fire people. If the President fails to do anything, they can impeach him. This is, in fact, what happened to Andrew Johnson (backwards; he fired an executive for doing what Congress wanted), although he was acquitted by one vote.

      So this is another step with which the Parliament can try to exert influence on the other branches without actually going all the way and using their actual power, which would be enormously disruptive to everything.

      Note that the Parliament can also reject the directive on the second reading, but it's difficult and depends on enough MEPs actually showing up that day; if Parliament complains enough beforehand, the Commission is more likely to think that enough MEPs will show up to the vote to kill it, and the less interested they are in pushing the Council's text through (the Commission's mandate is to get some directive passed on software patents, because the current situation is broken, and their job is to get broken situations resolved in some way or other). If it's going to get killed in the second reading, they would rather save face and restart the process; if it's not going to get killed in the second reading, they want to get it done.
  • Okay I'm from the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:07PM (#11702154)
    and don't understand world events... But the Commission has more power than the Parliament and can get legislation to the Council that the Council has to act on?

    Is the fear that there are enough votes in the Council that this will pass?
    • The EU can do a lot without the EU parliament. A lot of the patent process consisted of

      "This is bad"
      "We can't hear you"

      This is a common process in the EU and is also used for passing many other pieces of stupid law (like the EUCD - our DMCA variant). Countries all go "Oh this is terrible but the EU made us do it" while detailed analysis will reveal that *they* put it through the EU themselves, intentionally, so they could all deny knowledge of it.

      The EU has some serious reforms needed. It isn't clear
  • What the ?????? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <(gsarnold) (at) (> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:10PM (#11702197) Homepage Journal

    Does the EU even *have* a government? This is so confusing! Motions that can be executed with no vote, organizational groups that do what they want regardless of the vote? What gives? It's like the thing was designed *by*, bureucrats *for* bureaucrats, and voting is just a technicality.

    Can somebody help to make me less ignorant and point me at an online EU-civics 101 tutorial that outlines how the EU government is organized, what are the responsibilities of the major components and a general overview of the rules?

    • Re:What the ?????? (Score:5, Informative)

      by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:20PM (#11702350) Journal

      It's like the thing was designed *by*, bureucrats *for* bureaucrats

      Well, and I don't mean this in a bad-way, that's pretty much how the EU was set-up - or, more accurately, that's how the fore-runner(s) of the EU were set-up. Six European nations decided to have a coal and steel agreement. One thing led to another, over a long period, and with other nations joining at semi-regular intervals. The decisions were taken by career politicians and bureaucrats. It's comparatively recent that we've even had a parliament, and still more recent that we've actually been permitted to elect the members of said parliament.

      Re: EU-civics-101. I'll second that. We - even those of us in Europe - desperately need to know how the hell our continent is run.

    • Re:What the ?????? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:39PM (#11702613)
      The EU explains itself: []
      Take a look at the dropdown box in the upper right side of your browser window for different languages.
    • Re:What the ?????? (Score:4, Informative)

      by henni16 ( 586412 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @03:03PM (#11702961)
      Does the EU even *have* a government?
      No, At least not a democratic one.

      It's like the thing was designed *by*, bureucrats *for* bureaucrats
      That's essentially true.
      Also, there's the parliament that is
      a) a nursing home for politicians that some national party can't get rid off because of prior achievements or
      b) has to move out of sight for a couple of years because of national affairs.
      c) Also "parliament" sounds somewhat democratic; but don't give them real power because otherwise they might stop you from getting things done -
      like introducing software patents against Europe's interests.

      and point me at an online EU-civics 101 tutorial that outlines how the EU government is organized
      This [] looks promising (from the "International UNESCO Education Server for Civic, Peace and Human Rights Education").
      Also, there is a very short overview [] on the(?) EU site.
    • You could look at the EU's own website for a start - []
  • EU Law Trails? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:10PM (#11702199) Homepage Journal
    Would someone please clarify the players in EU lawmaking, and their role in the process? America at least has floated cartoons [] making our quaint process clear to naive schoolchildren (of any age). Where do members of the following bodies come from: election by people per nation / across the EU; or sent as representatives of national governments; or selected by the EU government itself? Where do the laws/regulations/rules/treaties/agreements they produce come from: national governments; EU government subdivisions; independent citizens; overseas committees like the US; nongovernment foreign or European policy organizations? And where do the rules they produce go: to another body for decision, to national governments for ratification, or just into effect as law?

    The players:
    - EU Parliament
    - EU Commission
    - EU Council
    - Any others (like, eg, some kind of "EU Parliament/Council Reconciliation Committe")?
    • Re:EU Law Trails? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:30PM (#11702497)
      Searching a bit gave me the following link:

      The EUROPA site [] which I found this handy-dandy flowchart [] on! With that many steps, no wonder it's confusing!
      • That's really useful. Now, a flowchart for the populations of the Parliament, Council, and Commission - who says which people are members of these groups?
        • Re:EU Law Trails? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Wikipedia helps there:

          The European Commission []

          The European Commission (formally the Commission of the European Communities) is the executive of the European Union. Its primary roles are to propose and enact legislation, and to act as 'guardian of the treaties' which provide the legal basis for the EU. The role of the European Commission has some parallels with the executive body of a national government, but also differs in some ways (see below for details).

          The Commission currently consists of 25 C

  • by hazee ( 728152 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:10PM (#11702203)
    The BBC coverage [] of this issue states that "The open source movement, of which Linux is the flagbearer, eschews notions of property and instead allows anyone to examine and tinker with the inner workings of software."

    As a BBC license payer, I'm incensed that they could be spreading such FUD. Since when has Linux "eschewed the notion of property"?

    Just because the open source community is vehemently opposed to software patents, doesn't mean that they don't support the "notion of property". Without such notions as copyright for instance, the GPL would be impossible.
    • by hazee ( 728152 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:24PM (#11702410)
      My complaint to the BBC:

      As a BBC license payer, I'm appalled by the factual inaccuracy in the "EU software patent law faces axe" article.

      The statement is made that "The open source movement, of which Linux is the flagbearer, eschews notions of property and instead allows anyone to examine and tinker with the inner workings of software."

      This is nonsense, verging on the libellous. The open source movement has no such stance. Even minimal fact checking would quickly reveal that the Gnu Public License, under which much of today's open source software, including Linux, is released, depends fundamentally on the protections and rights granted by copyright.

      The concept that the open source movement seeks to destroy any sense of property is precisely the sort of scare story being pushed by large computer manufacturers in their attempt to railroad the software patents directive through the European parliament.

      I expect better from a supposedly neutral and unbiased news organisation.
    • > Without such notions as copyright for instance, the GPL would be impossible.

      The GPL would be unnecessary. Anyone has the right to copy everything as much as they wish (as it should be) so why not release the source too.

      Property is theft. -- Pierre Joseph Proudhon.
      • That's the crucial distinction between the GPL and BSD licenses. With the BSD license, anyone can rip off your work and bury it inside their own proprietary code, without giving anything back in return.

        Hence it could be argued that the BSD license benfits freeloaders, while the GPL benefits the community as a whole, something that would not be possible without the protection of copyright.
    • As a BBC license payer, I'm incensed that they could be spreading such FUD. Since when has Linux "eschewed the notion of property"?

      Just because the open source community is vehemently opposed to software patents, doesn't mean that they don't support the "notion of property". Without such notions as copyright for instance, the GPL would be impossible.

      Then why are you telling us? Write to the BBC...
    • To whom it may concern,

      I am outraged at the apalling bias and factual misrepresentation in the BBC article, "EU software patent law faces axe".

      First, the bias. The article presents the view of a limited sector of the IT industry with "CompTIA, an umbrella organization for technology companies, said only when intellectual property was adequately protected would European inventors prosper."

      They certainly don't represent my technology business!

      Where is the view of that other sector of the IT industry: tho
  • This is great news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ninjadoug ( 609521 )
    This is great news, I hope that everyone who has not contacted their MEP will do so via faxmymp or otherwise. I may even go to the effort of sending a letter in the post to mine to say thanks, and to continue to listen elected voters over companies. Remember the parliment makes the decision based on voters preferances, it it just up to us to tell MEPs what we want.
  • EU structure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bfields ( 66644 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:12PM (#11702232) Homepage

    Conference of Presidents, Council, Commission, Parliament.... For the poor confused Americans among us, could somebody draw us the European equivalent of the "how a bill becomes law" flow chart? I'm completely lost.

    --Bruce Fields

    • Re:EU structure (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      1. a major player (france, UK, germany, italy) wants a piece of legislation to become a law

      -> 2. the draft is juggled between the comission and the parliament for years

      -> 3. in case of a directive the member states can play with the law for a few years before putting it to force

      -> 4. the comission tries to see if all the laws in member states are roughly the same that the comission and parliament passed

      -> 5a. if a small member state has unlawful deviations from the law passed by comission an
    • I'm completely lost

      The problem is, right now so are the Europeans [].

      Summary, for those too lazy to click: 9/10 Europeans polled in January knew "little or nothing" about the European consititution.
    • Even better would be if someone were to make a new "Schoolhouse Rock" video of the process.
    • Good question, I too haven't got the foggiest idea.

      Greetings from Europe
    • by Mr_Icon ( 124425 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:34PM (#11702543) Homepage
      Conference of Presidents, Council, Commission, Parliament.... For the poor confused Americans among us, could somebody draw us the European equivalent of the "how a bill becomes law" flow chart? I'm completely lost.

      Dear sir:
      Thank you for your interest in the political structure of the European Union! To better accommodate your request, we have set up a comission who will meet and discuss the best possible way to handle your inquiry. The committee will hold its first meeting whenever the participating local councils meet to select the representatives needed for the first meeting of the committee.

      With kindest regards,
      The helpdesk committee

      • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @03:05PM (#11703000)
        Hold on! You have not properly consulted the Flemish-speaking Walloons of east central Turkey in the constitution of your helpdesk committee commission selection commission. We will not permit the commission to commit to any commitments without first committing to comunicate with them first!
        • by Mr_Icon ( 124425 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @03:26PM (#11703225) Homepage
          Unfortunately, our constitution is still being reviewed by the east-Cypriot Committee on Constituational Approvals, so technically the constitution of which you speak is not yet in effect. We just use a set of rules we jotted down on a napkin while we were out for a croissant snack one day.
    • As an AC posted below here is the website [] that explains the process, and here is a flowchart [] from the site.

      I don't think there is a simple explaination because the system is inherently complex. If you care to understand it, have fun reading.
    • Re:EU structure (Score:2, Informative)

      by LourensV ( 856614 )
      Oh, and strictly speaking there are no European laws. What we call a European law is an agreement between EU governments to change their laws to work according to a certain specification, if you wish. That's why it's called a Directive.

      So, if a government wants to do something unpopular, they lobby for it in the EU, and then create a Directive. Then they implement that directive in local law, and when the people complain, they blame the EU for it. That allows them to work against the people and for big cor

  • by SmokeHalo ( 783772 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:22PM (#11702378)
    Hartmut Pilch, the president of pressure group the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII)...

    So Europe has 'pressure groups', while America has lobbyists. Maybe that's our problem -- '**AA lobbyist' sounds too warm and fuzzy. They should be renamed 'motion picture pressure group' or 'recording industry pressure group'. That's got a nice evil ring to it.
  • by Husgaard ( 858362 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:23PM (#11702395)
    I think this is one of the worst cases showing the democratic problems in the EU.

    Nobody wanted this in the first place - except patent lawyers, patent offices and a few large software companies.

    Before the directive was proposed by the European Commission, software patents were rejected twice by governments at international diplomat conferences on the change of the European Patent Convention.

    Before the directive was proposed the European Commission held a public hearing. 91% of those responding were against software patents. 47% of the rest were patent lawyers and patent offices.

    When the European Commission proposed the directive they sent out a press release saying the directive was to make software less patentable (liars!).

    The only elected institution in EU is the European Parliament. Here the proposed directive was amended to not allowing unlimited patentability of all software and business metods.

    Later the European Counsil amended the directive again, undoing most of the amendments the the Parliament did.

    And now the European Commission and the Counsil (both non-elected, but appointed) are pressing to go through with the directive, completely ignoring the rights of the European Parliament.

    • The Council is not unelected: it is made up of government ministers from each nation of the EU. I think (though I'm not sure) that any decision made by the council must be unanimous.

      Of course, that doesn't prevent the same ministers from turning round as soon as they return to their home countries, and blaming unpopular legislation on the EU council...
  • Did Europe get the concept of "separation of powers" inverted?

    In the US system the whole thrust is to keep the government from running wild and stomping the people.

    First the powers are limited.

    Second, they are split up among three branches, so each has only its own powers and can't run the whole show.

    Third, each branch has various impediments to the use of its powers, to slow them and/or require the cooperation of at least one other branch to get things done.

    Fourth, each pair of branches has a mechanis

  • An EU primer (Score:4, Informative)

    by tigre ( 178245 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:35PM (#11702557)
    As an ignorant American, I found this description of the various EU institutions [] very helpful. Interesting to note that the Parliament can dismiss the Commission if it desires to do so, and it would be interesting to see this happen, or at least have the threat of it issued to enforce Parliament's request/demand.
  • I question this. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "the role of strong IP as an engine of European growth as part of the Lisbon Agend a is beyond question," said Lueders (from the pro-patent lobby).

    I for one will question this.

    Perhaps Mr. Lueders can show how one can start up a software company from scratch now in the U.S., without having to worry about a frivolous patent infringement lawsuit? Or without having to sell out a significant stake in your company to Venture Capitalists in order to pay for lawyers (and not developers)?

    As mentioned recently on
  • ...I know the various contries have been refusing to support the measure...thats good it keeps software patents out of Europe... ...however as OSS supporter do we want the restart? or do we not want the restart? Are we on the side of the commision refusing to restart or the parliment?
  • Whether it's the WTO, the U.N or the E.U the problem with these international organizations seem to work the same way.

    1. Somebody proposes an international organization that will server a higher goal than the interests of member states. For instance, the U.N will be a forum for peace as it has no nationalistic interests. The WTO will enforce free trade rules as it has no nationalistic interests. The EU governments will break down nationalistic barriers.

    2. The organization starts working but quickly d
  • From t m:

    1. Proposing new legislation

    Under the Treaty, the Commission has the "right of initiative". In other words, it is responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, which it presents to Parliament and the Council. These proposals must aim to defend the interests of the Union and its citizens, not those of specific countries or industries.

    Anyone else than me that found the part about "not those of ... or industries" interestin

  • I need someone to blame. Who exactly are the bad people involved here? As long as we continue to talk about a nebulous organization, we can exert no pressure. A good article explaining which *people* have made which bad decisions would work wonders.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:01PM (#11703653)
    In other news, U.S. President George W. Bush strongly urged the European Union to embrace basic human freedoms by abandoning its current dictatorial regime for a representative form of government.

  • by tigre ( 178245 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:33PM (#11705557)

    From TFA, Hugo Leuders of pro-patent CompTIA said:

    "Recently, however, the benefits of the agreement have been obscured by special interests, working to muddy the waters and undermine the principles underlying the agreement: the fundamental role of intellectual property in the innovation lifecycle; the need to fairly protect and reward innovation, rather than encourage imitation and copying;..."

    Seems to me that he's obscuring the fact that "imitation and copying" is an important part of most innovation. We'd never be where we are without it.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann