Discussions

News: European Parliament rejects software patents, again

  1. In what is being widely seen as a victory for the open source movement that has campaigned strongly on the issue, the European Parliament rejected yesterday a new law that would have allowed software patents in the European Union.

    The vote was 648 votes against, 14 in favor, with 18 abstentions.

    European Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has stated "...if the parliament was to reject the directive then I would not be putting another proposal on the table."

    From the Washington Post, in "E.U. Parliament Rejects Software-Patent Law":
    ...lawmakers said the measure would stifle enterprise and did not promote innovation, and that human knowledge can't be patented. The move kills the legislation since the E.U. head office, which had drafted it, does not plan a new version.
    One view of the issue, from Why software patents are bad for Java developers:
    At the moment, a Java developer can start coding and produce something interesting of commercial value. The start up costs are minimal. At the current rate of issuing software patents in the US, it won't be long before a Java developer has to do legal searches and negotiate patent licenses prior to distributing even the most basic application.

    Software is already well protected through copyright (and trademarks) which cost nothing and are pretty much automatic. If software patents become standard practice, then the cost-of-entry to the Java market will increase substantially.

    Software patents can and will in the future be used to create or protect monopolies. Just wait until Windows market share is threatened and watch Microsoft's army of lawyers claim a few hundred patent violations. Preventing competition will become perfectly legal.
    Should the Java developer community be campaigning against US software patents? What are the compelling reasons to retain software patent laws? Is there a way to have software patents that are truly protective and not abusive?

    Threaded Messages (19)

  2. <quote>
    "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today...A future start-up with no patents of its own will be forced to pay whatever price the giants choose to impose."
    </quote>
    http://news.com.com/Bill+Gates+and+other+communists/2010-1071_3-5576230.html
  3. do not waste time[ Go to top ]

    You are dreaming if you think the US will drop software patents.......you are taking away the knife the big corporations use to intimidate (or kill) the small (often more innovative) companies.

    It is also funny to notice how the US media has coveraged the news...."Europe against innovation"..and bla bla bla

    Taken from the FFII website this is exactly how we feel
    "
    This is a great victory for those who have campaigned to ensure that European innovation and competitiveness is protected from monopolisation of software functionalities and business methods. It marks the end of an attempt by the European Commission and governmental patent officials to impose detrimental and legally questionable practises of the European Patent Office (EPO) on the member states. However, the problems created by these practises remain unsolved. FFII believes that the Parliament's work, in particular the 21 cross-party compromise amendments, can provide a good basis on which future solutions, both at the national and European level, can build.
    "

    http://wiki.ffii.org/Ep050706En

    Thanks Linux, open source communities and also commercial companies that have supported the initiative...
  4. do not waste time[ Go to top ]

    You are dreaming if you think the US will drop software patents.......you are taking away the knife the big corporations use to intimidate (or kill) the small (often more innovative) companies.

    Then most of open source and small companies will move to Europe. Do not have to move physically. US does not want to see that either, so there will be some change.

    Wei Jiang
    Perfecting J2EE!
  5. do not waste time[ Go to top ]

    Then most of open source and small companies will move to Europe. Do not have to move physically. US does not want to see that either, so there will be some change.

    Exactly. US companies will be at a competitive disadvantage if they have to operate under threat of patent encumbrance, and their European counterparts do not.

    Some of the same US software companies that have been championing software patents will begin to reverse that position in the next couple of years.
  6. it is already here ...[ Go to top ]

    < US companies will be at a competitive disadvantage if they have to operate under threat of patent encumbrance, and their European counterparts do not.

    It's not a question of IF ... that time has already arrived.

    If you've any doubt, read this article (which turned around my position on patents).

    http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html


    PJ Murray

    CodeFutures Software

    Code Generation for Java Persistence
  7. do not waste time[ Go to top ]

    Exactly. US companies will be at a competitive disadvantage if they have to operate under threat of patent encumbrance, and their European counterparts do not
    Most of the big IT companies in Europe have their headquarters in US. I don't think that will change, because that would mean they'd loose their patents. So, they'll continue to register patents in the US and, therefore, the small companies can't come on the US ground to compete with them.
    The smaller companies will be in a better position to compete in a market without patent, but this mainly affects the consulting market. The big companies haven't really managed to develop the consulting market in Europe (the big US companies mainly sell software and hardware in Europe), because the customers usually prefer the small local companies (they're cheaper). With the advent of the outsourcing trend, this market is becoming smaller and smaller in Europe. Moreover, the way the software patents are used (abused ?) in the US doesn't match with the way the companies do business in Europe. That's probably the cause of that decision. It's good to see the European Parliament can resist to the lobbying, because some companies (like Microsoft) have really tried.
    In conclusion, I don't have the feeling this will be a threat to US companies.
  8. You are dreaming if you think the US will drop software patents.......you are taking away the knife the big corporations use to intimidate (or kill) the small (often more innovative) companies.
    Then most of open source and small companies will move to Europe. Do not have to move physically. US does not want to see that either, so there will be some change.Wei JiangPerfecting J2EE!

    Not sure about this, but can't the US impose import restrictions or extra taxes for EU made software? They may not be able to control online sales of micro ISVs, but they could definitely enforce it on all off-the-shelf packages, OEM and embeded software and so on.

    Does anyone know more about this?
  9. import restrictions ?[ Go to top ]

    sure...for the sake of the free market, right ?
    and of course you are also pro open source..
    wow you impressed me!
  10. import restrictions[ Go to top ]

    sure...for the sake of the free market, right ?and of course you are also pro open source..wow you impressed me!
    Hey, chill out, I made a prediction, didn't express a wish :-)
    In my defense I am pro open source - I use an open source OS only at home and at work for like 8 years or so and I contribute to open source too - and, I'm a european, proud of this decisions :-)

    The whole idea is: the EU and the US fight about this kind of things all the time (look at Boeing vs. Airbus). My fear is this fight will extend to the software industry if one party or the other thinks they're business will be seriously affected by the other one's decisions.

    I was expressing a concern, not suggesting a "solution".
  11. Not sure about this, but can't the US impose import restrictions or extra taxes for EU made software? They may not be able to control online sales of micro ISVs, but they could definitely enforce it on all off-the-shelf packages, OEM and embeded software and so on.Does anyone know more about this?

    There are international trade rules that prevent unilateral tariffs and inport taxes (alhtough that did not stop US steel tariffs in 2002).

    This is one of the reasons why the US government is pushing US-style patent rights with the WTO and on other countries (Japan and Australia have enacted laws, for example). Want a trade treaty with the US? Want US support to join the WTO? Then you have to sign up with the US version of IRP.


    PJ Murray

    CodeFutures Software

    Code Generation for Java Persistence
  12. Not sure about this, but can't the US impose import restrictions or extra taxes for EU made software? They may not be able to control online sales of micro ISVs, but they could definitely enforce it on all off-the-shelf packages, OEM and embeded software and so on. Does anyone know more about this?

    The US can't do this without triggering an ugly, ugly trade war. This kind of dispute would go before the WTO, which would very likely grant Europe the right to put punative tariffs on other, similar electronic goods. This could include electronic media like entertainment items (music, movies, computer games, etc.), which are big US exports.

    The US has a lot more to lose in this kind of scenario.
  13. You are dreaming if you think the US will drop software patents.......you are taking away the knife the big corporations use to intimidate (or kill) the small (often more innovative) companies.
    Then most of open source and small companies will move to Europe. Do not have to move physically. US does not want to see that either, so there will be some change.Wei JiangPerfecting J2EE!
    Not sure about this, but can't the US impose import restrictions or extra taxes for EU made software? They may not be able to control online sales of micro ISVs, but they could definitely enforce it on all off-the-shelf packages, OEM and embeded software and so on.Does anyone know more about this?

    Exactly. Especially if the company has a US base of operations (even if it's an importer or consultancy) they'll be liable under US law.
    Online sales could still be deemed to be liable under US laws if the hosting provider is a US company, it could be argued that that constitutes a subsidiary on US soil and therefore a physical presence.

    Would be a great way to retaliate against the EU directive forcing US companies to pay EU salestax on items they sell online to EU customers.
  14. If pattents had always been there (and applied as such), M$ wouldn't even exist. :-)
    I can see why they are so much against it.
    Cf http://www.vanwensveen.nl/rants/microsoft/IhateMS_1.html
  15. Well done![ Go to top ]

    It's a great success for the OSS/Free Software movement and a clear sign of freedom and indepencence of the European Parliament.

    It's also a **big** warning to the EU's Council and Commission to not take in the future the way of unilateral decisions, as they did before...
    As an European I'm very proud of that, even if sometimes the EU institutions doesn't represent the interests of the Europe as a whole entity.

    I hope that other countries will follow this path, expecially developing ones such as China, India and Brazil. Software patents are a subtle way to tie the development of an ICT sector to US (and European) big corporate's interests and business. Don't let them control yours. Ideas and knowledge should remain free.
  16. Well done![ Go to top ]

    It's a great success for the OSS/Free Software movement and a clear sign of freedom and indepencence of the European Parliament.

    OSS has nothing to do with it. They may have been vocal campaigners and brought the issue to the minds of some people but in the end it was companies influencing their MEPs that killed the thing.
    Most European companies (in contrast to US companies with a presence in Europe) were opposed to the patent scheme.
    OSS groups have no political influence for the very simple reason that they lack the means to bribe politicians (and yes, I know that's not the politically correct term).
  17. Well done indeed![ Go to top ]

    Sorry, but you are only half right.

    It's true that most European companies where opposed to the pro-sw-patent directive. It's also true that the pro-sw-patent companies also asked the MEPs to reject the directive when they saw that a bunch of anti-sw-patent amendments could have been approved.

    But the truth you don't know/see is that the OSS/Free Software movement had a very active part, mainly under the umbrella of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure ( http://www.ffii.org ). Not only individuals speaking for themselves, but OSS companies representatives, from small and not so small companies, took their time to speak to the MEPs, explaining them our position on the issue. Many of the proposed ammendments where suggested by people from the OSS movement. Many MEPs decided their position after talking to us.

    So it's indeed a great success for the OSS/Free Software movement, one that shows that sometimes good reasons can win more votes than big money...
  18. Well done![ Go to top ]

    The OSS movement did **a lot** of activities to stop the directive. Check ffii.org or the Free Software Foundation Europe's websites for more info.

    We can discuss if their work has been (or not) the key factor for the success, but the amount of job they've done and the number of people they've sensibilized is huge. All of that with limited resources, compared to the Corporates.
    Most European companies (in contrast to US companies with a presence in Europe) were opposed to the patent scheme

    I didn't say a different thing. But it's a fact that some of the biggest european companies were in favour of the patent directive.
    For example, big companies like Nokia and Siemens, members of the EICTA, which some weeks ago launched a campaign to promote sw patents http://www.eicta.org/press.asp?level0=1&level1=6&level2=24&year=2005&docid=393

    and now has made a quick "u-turn":
    http://www.eicta.org/press.asp?level2=42&level1=6&level0=1&docid=404

    This is lack of coherence.
  19. it has to be said, however, that this is not the ultimate victory the OSS community was campaigning for. The rejection of the law proposition (which would have fully legalized software patents) was the last retreat of the pro-patent party, because even more far-reaching anti-patent proposals were about to be brought to the table. The current state is still quite ambiguous in many respects.

    Anyway the rejection of the proposal can be looked upon as a victory in the sense that it proves that political decisions can indeed be influenced to the better by smart and determined lobbying from "weak" entities, if a large enough group unites its forces. A glimpse of democracy.

    chris
  20. Anyway the rejection of the proposal can be looked upon as a victory in the sense that it proves that political decisions can indeed be influenced to the better by smart and determined lobbying from "weak" entities, if a large enough group unites its forces. A glimpse of democracy.

    The victory was over large corporations that went after the commission and council of ministers with US style patent laws. The OSS groups went after the members of parliament with changes that was have had the opposite effect.

    The OSS groups managed to "spook" the lobbyists enough for them to drop their entire effort.

    So now, the status of software patents in Europe is very uncertain and European courts will probably not enforce any local patent laws (the same lobbyists are targetting individual countries too).



    PJ Murray

    CodeFutures Software

    Code Generation for Java Persistence