Opera and MySQL battle against software patents

Opera and MySQL battle against software patents

Summary: Five European IT companies have weighed in against the software patent directive

TOPICS: Government UK

A group of medium-sized European IT companies have launched a joint effort to try and persuade the European Parliament's to make changes to the proposed software patent directive, ahead of the second reading plenary vote on Wednesday 6 July.

Opera, MySQL, 1&1 Internet, CAS Software, CSB-System, GMX, and Materna are being aided in their effort by campaigner Florian Mueller, founder of an anti-patent Web site, who has agreed to return to the fray after giving up his battle against the directive in March to pursue other interests.

"It's an intense fight here," said Mueller, speaking from Brussels. "There are 40 to 50 lobbyists from large corporations and their associated industries. It’s difficult to counter such intense pressure — it's chaos!"

Last week, the European Parliament's legal affairs committee narrowly voted in favour of the computer-implemented inventions directive, which many say will allow software patents.

Next week will be the second reading of the directive, and the five companies want the Parliament to amend the text of the directive to close a number of loopholes that critics say were created last week.

According to Mueller, the five companies joined the battle because allowing pure software patents would benefit their large corporate adversaries. The software patent directive passing the second reading without amendments, "would be disastrous for small companies," said Mueller. "The present text has several loopholes which allow for software patents. We want amendments which would be helpful for companies that are sued for a patent. Essentially we want to turn an article full of loopholes into a valuable tool."

This effort is supported by venture investment group Benchmark Capital and Danny Rimer, a partner at Index Ventures. Venture capitalists are supporting the effort because they get most return from their investment in growth companies and it is these growth companies that will suffer if the directive is passed without amendments, according to Mueller.

When asked why he had decided to rejoin the battle against the directive, Mueller said "It’s such a narrow majority — every vote will count. When I left I could not foresee what would happen. I’ve come back for this particular situation."

Topic: Government UK

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Software is not manufactured, it is something you write and publish. Keep Europe free from software patents, we do not want censorship by patent law on written works.

    I think that European member States should ensure, that patents do not limit or except the rights of authors in accordance to TRIPs article 13, that patents do not conflict with normal exploitation of data and information and do not prejudice legitimate interests of authors, that publication, handling and distribution of information, including loading and execution of computer programs and all effects thereof (a legit.interest of the author = the reason for writing), can never constitute a direct or indirect patent infringement.

    Patents and copyright are completley uncompatible, patents covering writings like computer programs have an expropriating effect on the future where authors cannot know that they fully own their legitimate rights to their own writings.
  • Software patents are about one thing only. An arms race. Legal arms to be precise. Only huge companies with large budgets could hope to come out somewhat undamaged. The rest (actually, most of us) will only end up in the crossfire. Defenseless as we are.

    Or do we still have politicians in office that dream those little boy day dream of one Rambo like hero that can fend off entire armored armies with nothing but a bow and a knife? Or still clueless enough to think this is only about Open Source? Or even misguided enough to see this as a benefit for anyone and everything? We must have plenty of those still in office given recent events.

    One thing is for sure. People will remember (or made to remember) the decisions today's politicians will shortly make. And when its time to present the bill for that (on voting days) the politicians (or the parties they currently are attached to) will finally be made to hear the voice of the people across Europa.

    Because ignored we will not. And listened to we shall.