Patent restart request ratified

Patent restart request ratified

Summary: The European Parliament is unequivocal: the software patent directive needs to go back to the drawing board. But the jury is still out on whether the Commission will listen

TOPICS: Government UK

The European Parliament's request for the software patent directive to be started from scratch was ratified by senior members of the Parliament on Thursday, but campaigners from both sides are split on what will happen next.

Earlier this month the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament demanded that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive be started from scratch. A Parliament spokesman said on Thursday that this request was approved without debate by the Conference of Presidents -- the President of the Parliament and the chairmen of political groups -- and can now be passed to the European Commission, which must decide whether to agree to the request.

Initially, the EC was expected to adhere to the will of the Parliament, but recent indications suggest that it may ignore the request, having expressed disappointment that the EU Council had postponed ratifying the directive.

Hartmut Pilch, the president of pressure group the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), said on Thursday that he is unsure what will happen next. "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," said Pilch. "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."

Florian Mueller, the campaign manager of an anti-patent Web site, said that the mood at a press conference following Thursday's anti-patent demonstration in Brussels was confident.

"People are in an upbeat mood because of the Conference of President's decision and because it was unanimous -- now a strong political decision will be sent to the EC," said Mueller. "Everyone thinks it unlikely that the commission will ignore the request for a restart outright."

Even if the EC does accept the EP's request, it may still push the Council to adopt the directive to ensure that it has adhered to its standard procedures, according to Mueller. "There is a desire for the Council to adopt the directive to uphold the current working methods -- to show that every political agreement leads to a political decision," he said.

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.

"While the repercussions of today's action are not yet clear, the role of strong IP as an engine of European growth as part of the Lisbon Agenda is beyond question," said Lueders. "Last May's political agreement in the [European] Council roundly delivers on the Agenda's goals, he added. "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; and the need for legal clarity to encourage companies of all sizes to devote time to research and development."

Topic: Government UK

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  • What is needed is for measures to be taken to stop the corruption and stop the large software companies using their leverage (and a few illegal blackmail techniques like Microsoft had done in Denmark) to influence government's votes on this topic.

    Its the standard consumer problerm really. The companies are obviously willing to spend millions on lobbying because they know they will get it back 10x if software patents are allowed in.

    The public and the small software houses - whole both undeniably stand to loose out if software patents are allowed - don't have the money to lobby on the issue.
  • Hugo Lueders and the EC should consider the following: if the role of a strong IP as an engine of European growth is that important for the EU to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010 then...

    1) if they don't understand copyright laws then they shouldn't pretent that software patent laws are the best thing since sliced bread because if they do their ignorance is showing since copyright laws already protect IP and thus enable a strong IP

    and 2) how on earth could a strong IP help the economy of the EU if the rights and revenues that come with such an IP, by means of software patents, are mostly transported overseas?

    Really, software patents will only transfer already existing IP rights and revenues protected by copyright laws straight into the hands of a few big companies mostly based overseas because such companies are already granted thousands upon thousands of software patents that are of questionable content. Anyone who doesn't see that is either payed for or has no clue. In all such cases such persons shouldn't be allowed to stay in a position of power for a minute longer.

    Also, perhaps the US wishes very much so that the EU will make the same mistake the US has made in order to give US based companies a head start so that US based companies will largely own (and thus control) the dynamic knowledge-driven economy of the EU by 2010. Think about that for a while. Certainly if you're payed to think. And most certainly if you're payed to think on behave of many others that in mysterious ways have put you in that position of power.

    Sigh. Here's a chance for the EU to gain the upperhand themselves yet a handfull of people (Hugo Lueders and the EC) are willing to just give that away along with throwing away the principels of democracy they claim to stand for for nothing but the upholding of some lousy burocratic procedures or other insignifant motivations like, perhaps, self interest. How many tax dollars do these black-or-white thinking people take home every month as salary? Because I can think of a few others who are just as able to rubberstamp documents and guided by nothing else then black-or-white reasoning for a whole lot less salary each month.
  • I personally don't believe that the majority OSC wants to remove patents completely, patent law can be an important tool if implemented correctly and strictly adhered to given loose definitions and lack of control it can be a powerful weapon for the rich and a barrier to the poor, but the truth is it has no place in the realms of processes and methods. The fact that the council (not parliament as some articles have suggested) are more concerned with the wishes of big business and not the welfare of the majority has severely dented my faith in the EU and the way it
  • I think we should listen to Bill Gates of 1991.

    "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today...A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose."

    - From:

    The communist stuff is, however, Bills desperation having to face competition to day.

    Deep down I think the problem for people who do not understand programming and the danger with software patents is that they connect innovation and patents.

    Yes, dynamite was a innovation and patented.

    But software is best protected with copyrigt.