[News] Massive Support for the Eurolinux Petition

PILCH Hartmut phm at a2e.de
Fri Jul 21 08:58:35 CEST 2000

                 Massive Support for the EuroLinux Petition
      20,000 citizens and 50 companies call for a Software Patent Free
                           For immediate Release
   Cambridge, London, Metz, Freiburg, Munich and Paris - 20,000 citizens,
   including 300 corporate executives, have signed so far the EuroLinux
   Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe after one month. The
   EuroLinux Petition was launched on 15th May 2000 to protect software
   innovation in Europe and oppose current plans of the European
   Commission to legalise software patents in Europe.
   The current 20,000 individual signatures mainly consist of individual
   IT professionals, including 300 corporate executives (CEO, CTO, CFO,
   etc.), about 50 companies and more than 20 non-profit associations.
   Quite interestingly, many employees from large corporations such as
   IBM, Siemens or Alcatel took the risk of signing the Eurolinux
   petition and express their strong opposition to the active pressures
   which are being put on the European Commission by their legal
   department in favour of a broad software patent system in Europe.
   EuroLinux takes this as an evidence that patent attorneys working for
   large corporations may not always understand the economic interest of
   their employer, but certainly do understand their own.
   Some more sponsors of the Eurolinux petition explained this week why
   they believe this activity is important.
   Philip Sargent, CEO of [19]Metaweb, a Cambridge-based web-database
   development company at the heart of Silicon Fen, says: "we have seen
   the obvious and anti-competitive effect that software patents have had
   on the US software industry and we must not let it happen here.
   Despite the logical arguments in favour of software patents, the
   side-effects are demonstrably more important and far-reaching. There
   is definite and wide-spread hard evidence to support the case that
   software patent portfolios are mostly used as bargaining counters in
   takeover negotitations and in bludgeoning smaller companies without
   large legal staffs. The role of patents in helping to reward
   investment in developing new technology is unproven; even though that
   is their primary purpose in non-software industries. The difference is
   one of pace: a key new software idea is protected not by legal
   defence, but by investing in it and making it work. Increasingly we
   are seeing that most new key ideas, e.g. the web, HTML, Linux etc. are
   provided free of patent restrictions and that this is both profitable
   and public-spirited."
   Adds Klaus Weidner of [20]WMP GmbH, Munich: "Patents are supposed to
   promote invention and progress, but software patents would have the
   opposite effect. Interoperability between programs requires either
   open standards or reverse-engineering of protocols or file formats. If
   this would be prohibited by software patents, companies with a large
   market share would be able to stifle competition. In most cases, this
   would mean that large U.S. companies would dominate the European
   market, and any startup companies would be legally prevented from
   competing with them. This would have disastrous results for the long
   term competitiveness of the European IT sector."
   James Carrier, Technical Director of [21]BulletOnline: "As technical
   director of a high-tech company involved is the design of computer
   software, I am extremely concerned with the current situation of
   patent law with respect to software algorithms in the European Union
   which has been brought to my attention by the EuroLinux petition. I
   believe that the extension of patent law to cover software in any way,
   shape or form can only damage commerce and stifle competition and
   innovation throughout the EU, and I urge the Commission to act quickly
   to ensure that the current law - which clearly prohibits such patents
   - is enforced, rather than replaced with further, potentially
   damaging, legislation."
   Jürgen Siepman, attorney and legal adviser of [22]Linux-Verband e.V.,
   a German association that represents numerous Linux companies and
   professionals, warns: "Software patents are more than ever on the
   European Commision agenda. Most decisions on this matter in Europe are
   currently taken under pressure, without studying their economic impact
   or even considering the democratic opinion. Under the pressure of
   patent professionals, the European Patent Office invented its own
   rules in order to grant more than 10,000 software related patents,
   more than 75% of which were filed by non-European companies. However,
   most of these patents can not be enforced currently because they were
   granted in contradiction with the written Law. Under diplomatic
   pressures, the general directorate for internal market at the European
   Commission, is now suggesting to include the self-invented practices
   of the European Patent Office into the European written Law. This is
   very clever because it allows them to completely change the Law
   without risking any open debate and pretend they did not do anything.
   The European Patent Office has for many years enjoyed a reputation of
   great political skill. And please guess in which office Europe's chief
   software patent lawmaker served, before he moved over to Bruxelles?"

   Number of individual signatures in large corporations:
          Siemens (54), MandrakeSoft SA (42), IBM (42), SuSE Linux AG
          (41), Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (32), Alcatel (29), Ericsson
          (28), ID-PRO (25), Atos (22), Nokia (22), France Telecom /
          Wanadoo (21), Oracle (13), SNCF (13), Alcôve (12), EDF (12),
          Belgacom / Skynet (11), SAP (10), Deutsche Telekom / T-Online
   Number of signatures by country:
          Germany (5292), France (4888), Denmark (1573), Sweden (1030),
          United Kingdom (876), Austria (654), Belgium (606), Italy
          (502), Netherlands (495), Spain (469), Finland (375),
          Switzerland (334), Czechia (298)

     * [23]The Eurolinux Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe -
     * [24]The Eurolinux File on Software Patents -
     * [25]MetaWeb - http://www.metaweb.net
     * [26]WMP GmbH - http://www.w-m-p.com
     * [27]BulletOnline - http://www.bulletonline.com
     * [28]Linux-Verband LiVe e.V. - http://www.linux-verband.de
About EuroLinux - www.eurolinux.org

   The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
   open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
   united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture
   based on Open Standards, Open Competition and Open Source Software
   such as Linux. Corporate members or sponsors of EuroLinux develop or
   sell software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for
   operating systems such as GNU/Linux, MacOS or Windows.
   The EuroLinux Alliance has co-organised in 1999, together with the
   French Embassy in Japan, the first Europe-Japan conference on Linux
   and Free Software. The EuroLinux Alliance is at the initiative of the
   www.freepatents.org web site to promote and protect innovation and
   competition in the European IT industry.
Press Contacts

   France and Europe:
          [29]Jean-Paul Smets-Solanes, jp at smets.com, +33-662 05 76 14
   Germany and Europe:
          [30]Hartmut Pilch, info at ffii.org, +49-89-18979927
   Denmark and Northern Europe:
          denmark at eurolinux.org
          belgium at eurolinux.org
Permanent URL for this PR


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    2000-07-20 [31]eurolinux
    [ [32]News | 20000 signatures | [33]Eurolinux congratulates British
     Telecom | [34]No E-Patents | [35]Hidden Agenda | [36]DG XV Meeting
                                 Summary ]


   1. http://www.eurolinux.org/
   2. http://www.eurolinux.org/about/indexen.html
   3. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/indexen.html
   4. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr2/indexen.html
   5. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr1/indexen.html
   6. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/agenda/indexen.html
   7. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/euipCAen.html
   8. http://www.eurolinux.org/program/indexen.html
   9. http://www.eurolinux.org/actions/indexen.html
  10. http://www.eurolinux.org/sponsors/indexen.html
  11. http://www.eurolinux.org/members/indexen.html
  12. http://www.eurolinux.org/contact/indexen.html
  13. http://petition.eurolinux.org/index.en.html
  14. http://www.freepatents.org/
  15. http://wtao97/mlht/demo/anybr/indexen.html
  16. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr4/indexde.html
  17. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr4/pr4en.pdf
  18. http://petition.eurolinux.org/
  19. http://www.metaweb.net/
  20. http://www.w-m-p.de/
  21. http://www.bulletonline.com/
  22. http://www.linux-verband.de/
  23. http://petition.eurolinux.org/
  24. http://petition.eurolinux.org/reference/
  25. http://www.metaweb.net/
  26. http://www.w-m-p.com/
  27. http://www.bulletonline.com/
  28. http://www.linux-verband.de/
  29. mailto:jp at smets.com?subject=http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr4/indexen.html
  30. mailto:info at ffii.org?subject=http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr4/indexen.html
  31. mailto:info at eurolinux.org?subject=http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr4/indexen.html
  32. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/indexen.html
  33. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr2/indexen.html
  34. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/pr1/indexen.html
  35. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/agenda/indexen.html
  36. http://www.eurolinux.org/news/euipCAen.html

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