[Linux-aus] EU Patent restart request ratified

Arjen Lentz arjen at mysql.com
Sat Feb 19 19:04:01 UTC 2005

Patent restart request ratified
Ingrid Marson
February 17, 2005, 15:50 GMT


The European Parliament's request for the software patent directive to
be started from scratch was ratified by senior members of the Parliament
on Thursday, but campaigners from both sides are split on what will
happen next. 

Earlier this month the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European
Parliament demanded that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive
be started from scratch. A Parliament spokesman said on Thursday that
this request was approved without debate by the Conference of Presidents
-- the President of the Parliament and the chairmen of political groups
-- and can now be passed to the European Commission, which must decide
whether to agree to the request. 

Initially, the EC was expected to adhere to the will of the Parliament,
but recent indications suggest that it may ignore the request, having
expressed disappointment that the EU Council had postponed ratifying the

Hartmut Pilch, the president of pressure group the Foundation for a Free
Information Infrastructure (FFII), said on Thursday that he is unsure
what will happen next. "It is not certain that the Commission will
comply with the request of the Parliament, nor that it will use the
opportunity to draft a good text," said Pilch. "The new Commission is
not obliged to follow the Parliament's request and they might still try
to keep all options open and ask the Council to adopt the agreement of
last May without a new vote, so as to gain even more options for

Florian Mueller, the campaign manager of an anti-patent Web site, said
that the mood at a press conference following Thursday's anti-patent
demonstration in Brussels was confident.

"People are in an upbeat mood because of the Conference of President's
decision and because it was unanimous -- now a strong political decision
will be sent to the EC," said Mueller. "Everyone thinks it unlikely that
the commission will ignore the request for a restart outright." 

Even if the EC does accept the EP's request, it may still push the
Council to adopt the directive to ensure that it has adhered to its
standard procedures, according to Mueller. "There is a desire for the
Council to adopt the directive to uphold the current working methods --
to show that every political agreement leads to a political decision,"
he said. 

Hugo Lueders, the director of public policy at pro-patent organisation
CompTIA, is also unsure what will happen next. He contends that software
patents are needed to ensure that the EU can keep to the goals set by
the "Lisbon Agenda" --- that the EU will become the most competitive and
dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.

"While the repercussions of today's action are not yet clear, the role
of strong IP as an engine of European growth as part of the Lisbon
Agenda is beyond question," said Lueders. "Last May's political
agreement in the [European] Council roundly delivers on the Agenda's
goals, he added. "Recently, however, the benefits of the agreement have
been obscured by special interests, working to muddy the waters and
undermine the principles underlying the agreement: the fundamental role
of intellectual property in the innovation lifecycle; the need to fairly
protect and reward innovation, rather than encourage imitation and
copying; and the need for legal clarity to encourage companies of all
sizes to devote time to research and development."

Arjen Lentz, Community Relations Manager
MySQL AB, www.mysql.com

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