Poles push patents off EU agenda

The EU has again failed to ratify the software patent directive after a crucial last-minute intervention, and opponents of software patents are celebrating
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

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".

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