Poles push patents off EU agenda

Poles push patents off EU agenda

Summary: The EU has again failed to ratify the software patent directive after a crucial last-minute intervention, and opponents of software patents are celebrating

TOPICS: Government UK

Poland's opposition to software patents prevented the EU from ratifying the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive on Tuesday.

An EU Council spokesperson has confirmed that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive will not be adopted on Tuesday as had been planned, and was unsure when it would be adopted.

According to informed sources, Polish undersecretary of science and information technology Wlodzimierz Marcinski spoke out at the EU Council meeting and asked that the directive be removed from the agenda as more time was needed to make a constructive declaration. As no-one objected to the Polish request, the chairman removed the item from the agenda.

This last-minute decision to remove the item from the agenda is a surprise that is likely to please anti-patent campaigners who were unhappy that the EU Council was planning to adopt the directive without vote or discussion.

The Polish government initially spoke out against the proposed directive in November, saying that it could not support the text as it was ambiguous and contradictory. Politicans from Holland, Germany, and Austria have also publicly spoken out against the directive.

This latest delay has already been welcomed by activists who have opposed software patents.

"Now Europe has the opportunity to have a constructive debate on the severe shortcomings of the current Council text, under the new Luxembourgian EU presidency next year," said Florian Mueller, campaign manager of NoSoftwarePatents.com.

James Heald of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) believes that Marcinski attended Tuesday's council meeting personally because "the permanent representative of Poland at the EU had been put under great pressure by the Dutch Presidency and had been rather reluctant to communicate the viewpoint of the Polish government."

However, some of those who have been supporting the directive were dismayed by this latest development.

"[The] Council's failure today constitutes a worrying setback for innovation in Europe, and throws doubt on our collective commitment to the Lisbon Agenda," claimed Mark MacGann, director general of EICTA (European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association), in a statement that "condemned the Council's failure to support European high-tech innovation".

Topic: Government UK

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  • Hooray! Congrat's evrybuddy for the hard work! Well done! They still want to push it, but this is OUR victory! Happy Chistmas, Europe!!!
  • Maybe democracy does work.
    At least this will buy some time to make certain politicians and lobbyist aware that they should be very clear in what they say, what they do and why they do what they do because they will have to explain their actions to all involved afterwards.
  • I have set up a simple website at ThankPoland.info where you can sign a letter to thank the government of Poland.
  • This is first noticable, positive payoff from enlargement. these new countries have fewer ties with big business and find it easier to play the bad-boy.

    It is what should have happened anyway, all this shit about non-consultation. Yea right! These Poles did a good job.
  • First of all I would like to voice my sincere thanks to Poland. Second, I would like to express my deep apologies on behalf of all software patent opponents from the Czech Republic. Our government is just a bunch of idiots. :-(((
  • In this breathing space, all groups should join together to create a free open international patent similar to Australia's Innovation Patent combined with a GPL like license, so that those of us who wish to share our creativity with others can allow it to happen, without predators stealing our ideas.
    And the powers that be can have their proprietary ones as well.
  • This is a sad development for the small software developer. Patents do not give you the right to do anything - they give you the right to protect what you have spent time and money creating. It is wrong to assume that patents favour the big guys - it's the opposite way around. The big guys already have the financial muscle and the infrastructures to exploit new ideas in a patent free environment - they can already steamroller the little guys. They cannot steamroller the law: if a small company has a valid patent, big companies must (and do) respect that. Okay, the patent owner sometimes needs to go to court, but it is possible to take-out insurance to cover the legal fees. And a patent can be obtained for about the same cost as a full page advertisement in a trade magazine - not a lot really, when you consider that it buys you a complete monopoly.

    As things stand, tens of thousands of computer-related patents are already granted each year. However, the current ambiguity makes getting them a complex and therefore expensive business - in other words the status quo favours the big guys in this way too. Clearer law will simplify things and reduce costs still further, thereby making it even easier for everyone to protect their assets.

    Don't forget that patents have been around for centuries - the above comments are not conjecture - they are based upon well-established facts in other fields.

    I feel sad when I see a lot of the stuff on the net about this, because there are an awful lot of people who are clamouring to tie a noose around their own neck. . .
  • Yes, this is surely bad news, but not for us small software developers, specially not for those invloved in FOSS.

    It's surely bad news for patent attorneys, but AFAIK patent attroneys are not related in any way to the process of writing software.
  • Dare telling your name if you are against this!

    If you want to read about a managing director from a small software company with a name and which today is happy, then read the letter from the managing director of Softpress, <http://www.softpress.co>, Oxford, UK.
  • I am delighted to see "new Europe" stand up for democracy in front of european lobbies when the rest of us failed. This is a great day for free software, and a great day for Europe. But let's not declare victory too soon, for they will try again.
    Thank you Mr Wlodzimierz Marcinski, thank you Poland. I celebrated with a glass of Zubrowka yesterday.
  • Dear patent attorney,

    Ever heard of copyrights?

    Also, the only reason that the big guys can steamroll over the little guys is because the various governments involved aren't doing their job of upholding EXISTING laws with meaningfull effect (no Sir, your way of bussines conduct that's earning you billions is illegal so I order you to pay a significantly less fine which we will then use to buy new licenses from you. Duh, that'll change their behaviour alright. Not.).

    So no amount of NEW laws will solve the problem of big guys steamrolling little guys as long as something isn't done about the cause of the problems. Symptom fighting will only make a few new people richer. It won't solve the problem.