Anti-patent campaigner calls for EU recount

Anti-patent campaigner calls for EU recount

Summary: A campaigner against software patents is calling for a recount on the EU Council's vote on the subject, claiming that changes in voting rights mean the result is no longer binding

TOPICS: Government UK
A change in the voting weights of EU members means that the EU Council members which supported controversial changes to the EU Software Patents directive no longer have a majority vote, prompting some campaigners to call for a recount.

The EU council voted on 18 May in favour of changes to the EU Software Patents Directive that would allow the widespread patenting of software in Europe. This political agreement is not legally binding until the proposal is formally adopted, which is expected to happen when the EU Council meets at the end of November.

But, due to new voting weights for EU member states that came in on Monday -- in Article 12(1) of the Accession Act -- the countries which supported the change now fall short of a qualified majority by 16 votes, according to an analysis published by Florian Mueller, the founder of an anti-patent Web site.

Mueller told ZDNet UK that he believes it is undemocratic to get a political agreement on a past majority and is therefore calling for a recount.

"The qualified majority must be in place on the very day of the formal decision, not half a year earlier on a tentative basis," said Mueller. "That is why we demand a recount."

Mueller is now lobbying representatives from various countries to request that the EU Council proposal is withdrawn as there needs to be further discussion or vote.

Rufus Pollock, the UK spokesman for the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) told ZDNet UK that the change in voting weights is important. He says that even if the EU Council decides to formally adopt the directive, it could be deemed illegitimate by the European Court of Justice.

"It might well be possible, should the Council not take this into account, for the parties affected by the adoption of the directive to go to the European Court of Justice to ask for its annulment," said Pollock.

Even before the change in voting weights, the EU Council's vote in May was controversial as it removed many of the changes introduced in 2003 by the European Parliament, that would have limited the degree to which software programs could be patented.

Since the EU Council's initial decision, the Dutch and German parliaments, have discussed making changes to the EU Council's proposal on software patents -- in contradiction to their representatives on the EU Council who voted in favour of making the change.

Topic: Government UK

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  • I hope for success here and wish the campaigners luck.

    It would be nice for a true example of Democracy to prevail in an organisation (The EU) which dies not seem to be accountable to it's people in any meaningful way.

    In any case, I believe all right thinking people, not those representing big business and vested interests , do know that Software Patents are just plain wrong and fly in the face of common sense.

    Good luck, stick with it! And for the other puople, please, please, support this initiative.
  • This whole EU thing stinks . i mean really HONKS big time like a mixture of rotting fish and rotting sprouts with a dash of pig and cow mixed in ..

    It is high time we stood our ground against this bunch of hoodlums that call themselfs the EU .

    Software patents are an American idea that needs to stay firmley over the far side of the pond , We have no need or use for them over here the olny peopl that benefit from such things are the likes of M$ Corp that STEAL ideas from other people and then slap patents on them .

    While talking of patents ect it is high time there was an audit of the M$ Corp code base to ensure they are not using any code STOLEN from the Open Source Community i hve no doubt at all that they have lifted lines and lines of code that belongs to the GPL'ed code base .

    If the EU want to prove there value then ther is an VALID task for them .

    Pete .
  • Why are most of your correspondents completely illiterate? Can't they write or spell English ?