[ffii] software patenting - a disastrous vote in EP (fwd)

Hartmut Pilch phm at a2e.de
Tue Jun 17 15:58:53 CEST 2003


THE GREENS/EFA IN THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

PRESS RELEASE - Brussels, 17 June 2003

Patent vote fails Europe's software programmers:

Unlimited patents will be disastrous for the European software industry and SMEs

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament today adopted a
report that allows for the unlimited patenting of software which will, in
one swoop, entrench the market dominance of multinational companies, force
small software firms out of business and bring to an end the European free
software movement.

With precise briefing from the Commission - where the bureaucrat
responsible is a former employee of the UK patents office, and by the
European Patent Office (EPO) - which pockets money on every patent it
grants, the rapporteur, British socialist Arlene McCarthy, has defended a
confused report that is full of contradictions. In doing this she has a
strong backing from Conservatives but fierce criticism from her own
political group.

UK and German MEPs, in rejecting amendments to the report, have ignored
the opinions of the Economic and Social Council, the Industry committee,
the Culture committee, 140,000 people and 30 leading software scientists
who signed two petitions to the Parliament, as well as the 95% of the
European citizens who took part in a European Commission public
consultation.

The EPO has been illegally granting patents for computer programs for two
decades. This practise completely contradicts the Munich convention, which
in 1973 established the EPO and decided that computer programs and other
rules of organisation and calculation were not patentable inventions under
European law.

Dany Cohn-Bendit MEP (Greens - Fr) Co-president of the Greens/EFA group
and chairman of a conference earlier this year on software patents and
SMEs, said: "This patent report is an insult even to the principle of free
trade. Pretending to protect inventors and their inventions, it instead
allows multinationals to lock up the market."

Mercedes Echerer MEP (Greens - A), member of the Culture Committee, said:
"It is truly regrettable that some of my colleagues are so confused about
the nature of information technology. Ideas and algorithms are already
protected under copyright. A computer program, on the other hand, is like
a kitchen recipe - all that is needed is a pencil and paper to write it
down. Patents already protect technical inventions - there is no reason to
extended them to cover software."

"This legalisation, as it stands, represents the death of the European
software industry, and the death of the free and open-source software
industry which, by more than a coincidence, is primarily a European
sector. If implemented, it would conclude the transfer of our
data-processing control to the US. You can be sure that the report will
have a very bumpy ride when it goes to plenary in September with one third
of committee members in opposition."

Neil McCormick MEP (EFA - Scotland), member of the Legal Affairs and
Internal Market Committee, said: "This is a matter of great public
concern. It is important to give incentives to inventions, but this does
not and should not cover the essentially logical and mathematical work of
software development. There is a real danger that legal development of the
kind favoured by the majority in the Legal Affairs Committee will hinder
innovative development by small firms, not protect it."


***************************************************
Press Service of the Greens/EFA Group
in the European Parliament

Helmut Weixler
Head of Press Office

phone: 0032-2-284.4683
fax: 0032-2-284.4944
mobile phone: 0032-475-67 13 40
e-mail: hweixler at europarl.eu.int
website: www.greens-efa.org





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