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Fwd: [Patents] Patents vote: Green party press release




----------  Forwarded Message  ----------

Subject: [Patents] Patents vote: Green party press release
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 15:33:15 +0100
From: James Heald <sslug@sslug>
To: sslug@sslug

http://www.greens-efa.org/en/press/detail.php?id=1445&lg=en


Bruxelles/Brussel, 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."


For further press information:
Helmut Weixler
Head of Press Office
The Greens in the European Parliament
Tel: (Bxl) +32 2 2844683
phone: 0032 475 671 340
fax: 0032 2 2844944
mobile phone: 0032-475-67 13 40
sslug@sslug


THE GREENS/EFA in the European Parliament

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