[ffii] Council majority broke! Polish government against software patents

blasum at ffii.org blasum at ffii.org
Wed Nov 17 12:32:05 CET 2004


FFII, Internet Society Poland and NoSoftwarePatents.com
Joint Press Release

See http://kwiki.ffii.org/PolandDoesNotSupportCouncilVersionEn
(also links to Dutch, German versions on that page).

Poland Does Not Support Current Proposal
for EU Software Patent Directive

Official statement on government website after cabinet meeting: "Poland
cannot support the text which was agreed upon by the EU Council" - Political
agreement of May 18th on a proposed directive can no longer be formally
adopted as the common position of the EU Council

Warsaw, 17 November 2004.  Subsequently to a cabinet meeting, the Polish
government officially declared yesterday evening that "Poland cannot support
the text that was agreed upon by the EU Council on May 18th, 2004" as a
proposal for a "directive on the patentability of computer-implemented
inventions".  Consequently, the EU Council is unable to formally adopt that
legislative proposal as its common position.  Without the support of Poland,
those countries that supported the proposal in May now fall short of a
qualified majority by 16 votes.  New voting weights took effect in the EU on
the 1st of this month.

After extensive consultations with organizations of IT professionals and the
Polish Patent Office, the Polish cabinet concluded that the proposal at hand
does not achieve the stated goals of limiting patents on software and
business methods in Europe.  The Polish government explained that it would
"definitely" support "unambiguous regulations" but not a directive under
which the functionality of computer programs could be patented.  The EU
Commission and various governments of other EU member countries claimed that
the legislative proposal would not allow for the patentability of programs
that run on an average personal computer.  However, at a meeting hosted by
the Polish government on the 5th of this month, everyone including
representatives of the Polish Patent Office, SUN, Novell, Hewlett-Packard
and Microsoft, as well as various patent lawyers, confirmed that the present
proposal of the EU Council does make all software potentially patentable. 

Last week, the permanent representative of the Netherlands to the European
Union had declared that the Council, which is currently under a Dutch
presidency, would aim to refer its common position on the software patent
directive to the European Parliament in mid December.  The EU Council will
now have to renegotiate the legislative proposal instead of being able to
formally ratify the invalidated political agreement of May 18th.  The formal
ratification had been delayed, officially due to a shortage of translation
resources.

Jan Macek of FFII Poland said: "Countries such as Luxembourg, Latvia,
Denmark and Italy had called for changes similar to the amendments made by
the European Parliament, but those were rejected by the then-Irish
presidency.  They now have a chance to propose their amendments again, with
support from Poland.  That will help bring the directive more in line with
the European Parliament which took the position of clearly disallowing
software and business method patents."

Wladyslaw Majewski, president of the Internet Society of Poland, emphasized
the economic and societal implications of software patents: "The
questionnable compromise that the EU Council reached in May was the biggest
threat ever to our economic growth, and to our freedom of communication.
The desire of the patent system and the patent departments of certain large
corporations must never prevail over the interests of the economy and
society at large."

The political agreement of the EU Council had been under heavy criticism
ever since it was announced on May 18th.  Politicians from all parts of the
democratic spectrum, small and medium-sized enterprises, software developers
and economists called on the EU Council to reconsider its position.
Deutsche Bank Research and PriceWaterhouseCoopers had expressly warned of
the negative consequences to European IT companies, to innovation, and to
the ability of the EU to achieve the goals set out in its Lisbon Agenda.  On
July 1st, the Dutch parliament passed a resolution that its government
change the position of the Netherlands from support to an abstention.  On
October 21st, all four groups in the German parliament spoke out against
software patents and the legislative proposal in question, and introduced
different motions to that effect.


References

The aforementioned statement by the Polish government is available on a
government website:
http://www.kprm.gov.pl/441_12649.htm

An overview of the old and the new set of voting weights in the EU Council
was published earlier by the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=97 (press release)
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/docs/041101qm.pdf (overview and analysis)

About the Foundation for a Free Information Infastructure (FFII)

The FFII is the leading non-governmental organization that opposes the
patentability of software.  It has been mandated by tens of thousands of
individuals, among them an estimated 3,000 CEOs of companies, to represent
their interests in the political process on an EU software patent directive.
For more information, please check out http://en.eu.ffii.org/
The website of the Polish representation of FFII: http://www.ffii.org.pl/

About Internet Society (ISOC) Poland

For information on ISOC Poland, please check out this Web page:
http://www.isoc.org.pl/ 

About NoSoftwarePatents.com

For information on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is independent
from FFII, please check out this Web page:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/about/index.html

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:

Jan Macek
FFII, Poland
miernik at ffii.org
telephone +48-888-299997

Wladyslaw Majewski
ISOC Poland
wladek at isoc.org.pl

Florian Müller
Campaign Manager, NoSoftwarePatents.com
press at nosoftwarepatents.com
telephone +49-8151-651850



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Holger Blasum +49-174-7313590       No software patents in Europe!
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