Most recent full copy of Directive on patentability of computer implemented inventions

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at
Wed Aug 13 23:54:27 UTC 2003

On 13 Aug 2003 at 23:50, Xavi Drudis Ferran wrote:

> > What the MEPs seem to want is in short, succint terms, what 
> > amendments should they call for? In my view, patenting the 
> > implementation not idea could actually be a good idea and in the
> > worst case scenario, it won't make things really awfully worse.
> What the MEPs want is 2 small amendments that please everyone. That is
> impossible. There are just too many holes in it. Yet it is their
> responsability to fix it. If it takes many amendments then that's it.
> I'm sorry, I didn't write the CEC proposal, so don't blame it. The
> FFII has some amendment proposals. This is not necessarily the only
> way to fix it, but it is very easy to fail in fixing it. They have
> always the option of rejecting the directive, if fixing it is too much
> work.

I completely agree. I always start any conversation with a MEP by 
saying the entire directive is crap and should be complete rewritten. 
But then I'm always told we're too far down the line to start over so 
the only realistic possibility are amendments.

> > I appreciate your comments on patents plus all the FSF have written
> > about the matter. But it's all useless - you all speak of "software
> > patents" being bad full stop period. A MEP might know that and even
> > agree, but the EU is *mandated* to enforce software patents.
> > Therefore, you are fighting a war which cannot be won.
> This is wrong, to say it politely. Who do you think is mandating
> anything to the EU but itself?

Once an international agreement is signed, it's binding (unless 
you're the US). I don't think any MEP was happy with the TRIPS 
agreements, the US screwed us over on a number of points bad for the 
EU and we could have done much better. But then the EU isn't a 
cohesive whole pulling in the same direction - during the 
negotiations the US kept using divide & conquer tactics to wring out 
more concessions.

Once it's done though, it's done. We must have software patents. 
Luckily, the TRIPS wording as to what they must entail is quite 

> > Instead you should accept that the EU *shall* have software patents,
> > and this fight is all about making software patents as least
> > damaging as possible. Therefore you should be proposing alternative
> > forms of software patent ie; not Arlene McCarthy's proposal.
> Software patents are as absurd as saying pi equals 5.6. There is
> nothing you can do to make them less harmful without making them
> worthless to applicants. But we discussed a bit about that some time
> ago, didn't we?.

Yes. However, I've considerably improved by background understanding 
of the theory of patents, how they work wrt classical economic 
theory, and why under that same theory US-style patents have the 
opposite effect.

Of course, classical economic theory is also all arse, Hazel 
Henderson's economic books go some of the way in illustrating how we 
got Adam Smith totally wrong but I'd go much further. Still, you 
can't go saying the entire world is wrong when you're arguing with 
conventionally minded MEPs, so you use their flawed models.

> > To differentiate, I use "US-style software patent" for anything
> > which patents the idea behind a program. These must be avoided at
> > all costs. I then propose a new and improved form of software patent
> > patenting the implementation, one a MEP can debate for in their
> > plenary session.
> That's probably either meaningless, or more likely worthless for
> patent applicants. The only way for software patents to do that is to
> turn them in a more expensive and less lasting copyright. 

I think everyone here can agree that book-style copyright is totally 
inappropriate for software too. In fact, all IP law for anything 
representable inside a computer needs completely rewriting.

That time is coming. The day someone writes a cheap peer-to-peer 
fully encrypted and completely untrackable file sharing system with 
integrated anti-spy measures, the death bell will truly have knelled. 
I estimate no more than five years away.

> > You all might be interested that the SME group in the EU parliament
> > is very worried about the proposed directive but their proposed
> > amendments aren't much use. Irish MEP Avril Doyle is on that
> > committee and I am liasing with her wrt to tabling amendments. If
> > the SME committee could come behind these amendments, they have a
> > much louder voice than any one MEP or party.
> Since you don't mind commenting that on a public list, would you mind
> discussing the precise text of the amendments you would like?

Shouldn't I comment that on a public list? I'm sure it's public 

> Is the
> SME committee an EP committee ? I thought it was some other group of
> MEPs. Anyway, are you aware that one MEP cannot table amendments in
> plenary?.

Mrs. Doyle ran through the amendments procedure with me and well, 
it's complicated. She said she wants one or two amendments as you had 
thought with extremely strong but concise arguments in favour of 

Now I finally have the proposed directive, I can finally be specific 
wrt revisions. I'll give it a first reading tonight before bed.


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