Aug 27 Demonstrations against EU Software Patent Plans (fwd)

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Wed Aug 20 19:52:36 UTC 2003

I'm resending news here that most of you possibly already know, 
but we need as much diffusion as possible, and I believe it's not 
completely off topic.

FFII News -- For Immediate Release -- Please Redistribute
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           Aug 27 Demonstrations against EU Software Patent Plans
                            Brussels 2003/08/19
                           For immediate Release

   The Proposal for a software patent directive, which will be submitted
   to the European Parliament for plenary debate and subsequent decision
   on September 1st, giving rise to another wave of protests. Various
   groups in Belgium and elsewhere are mobilising for a rally in Brussels
   on August 27th and are calling on web administrators to temporarily
   block their web sites.


   The Proposal for a software patent directive, which will be submitted
   to the European Parliament for plenary debate and subsequent decision
   on September 1st, giving rise to another wave of protests. The
   Eurolinux Alliance is calling for participation in a rally in Brussels
   on August 27th, comprising a street performance at 12.00 on Luxemburg
   Square and conference at 14.00 in the European Parliament, and for
   accompanying online demonstrations.

   "The directive proposal as prepared by Arlene McCarthy MEP would
   impose US-style unlimited patentability of algorithms and business
   methods such as Amazon One Click Shopping" says Benjamin Henrion, who
   is heading a local organisational team with the backing of a coalition
   of organisations representing 2000 software companies and 160,000
   individuals, mostly software professionals.

   In an appeal, the organisers call on European citizens to stand up for
   the public interest to defend freedom of creation against logic
   patents, to defend copyright-based software property against
   patent-based software piracy, to defend software innovation against
   patent inflation, to defend software users against reduced choices and
   monopoly pricing.

   They call on the European Patent Office: Stop littering Europe's
   information highway! and on the European Parliament: Punish the
   polluters, don't legalise the pollution!

   The program in Brussels is approximately as follows, more details will
   be supplied soon:

   12.00-14.00 | Place du Luxembourg | Performance, balloons, patent chain,
                                       speeches, ...
   14.00-16.00 | EuroParl[13][1]     | Conference

   "In May a [14]two-day software patent conference in and near the
   European Parliament attracted 200 participants. Leaders of the
   scientific commuities and software business world condemned the
   directive proposal in every respect. Yet in June the EP Legal Affairs
   Commission endorsed this proposal with further amendments that make it
   even worse", explains Henrion. "More and more people are now seeing
   this very clearly. We expect even more participatants this time."

   Yet the vast majority of our supporters will certainly not be on
   Luxemburg Square on August 27th. "Those who can not come to Brussels
   should demonstrate online, using their web servers or other internet
   services", says Hartmut Pilch, president of FFII. "We have
   [15]proposed a series of ways in which this can be done. There is
   certainly a way for everyone. Better make access to your webpage a bit
   more difficult now for one or two days than lose your freedom of
   publication for the next ten years. Note that if the McCarthy report
   is approved without drastic amendments, programmers and Internet
   Service Providers will be regularly sued for patent infringement, if
   they publish programs on the Internet. If the Parliament votes for the
   McCarthy proposal now, there will be no more chances for democratic
   control later."

Annotated Links

   -> [16]AEL Big Demo 27 aug Wiki
          Hints on how to participate in the demo, needed equipment on
          site, who provides what, etc

   -> [17]FFII BXL 2003/08 Wiki
          Holger's editable auxiliary pages for the 2003/08/27 demo and
          related events. Includes hints on hotel/hostel rooms, t-shirts,
          banners etc

   -> [18]2003/08 Letter to Software Creators and Users
          The European Parliament will, in its plenary session on
          September 1st, decide on a directive proposal which ensures
          that algorithms and business methods like Amazon One Click
          Shopping become patentable inventions in Europe. This proposal
          has the backing of about half of the parliament. Please help us
          make sure that it will be rejected. Here are some things to do.

   -> [19]2003/08/25-9 BXL: Software Patent Directive Amendments
          Members of the European Parliament are coming back to work on
          monday August 25th. It is the last week before the vote on the
          Software Patent Directive Proposal. We are organising a
          conference and street rally wednesday the 27th. Some of our
          friends will moreover be staying in the parliament for several
          days. Time to work decide on submission of amendments to the
          software patent directive proposal is running out. FFII has
          proposed one set of amendments that stick as closely as
          possible to the original proposal while debugging and somewhat
          simplifying it. An alternative small set of amendments would
          "cut the crap" and rewrite the directive from scratch. We
          present and explain the possible approaches.

   -> [20]Online Demonstration Against Software Patents
          We can show our concern by physical presence as well as by more
          or less gently blocking access to webpages in a concerted
          manner at certain times.

   -> [21]European Parliament Rejects Attempt to Rush Vote on Software
          Patent Directive
          The European Parliament has postponed the vote on the software
          patent directive back to the original date of 1st of September,
          thereby rejecting initially successful efforts of its
          rapporteur Arlene McCarthy (UK Labour MEP of Manchester) and
          her supporters to rush to vote on June 30th, a mere twelve days
          after publication of the highly controversial report and ten
          days after the unexpected change of schedule.

   -> [22]JURI votes for Fake Limits on Patentability
          The European Parliament's Committee for Legal Affairs and the
          Internal Market (JURI) voted on tuesday morning about a list of
          proposed amendments to the planned software patent directive.
          It was the third and last in a series of committee votes, whose
          results will be presented to the plenary in early september.
          The other two commissions (CULT, ITRE) had opted to more or
          less clearly exclude software patents. The JURI rapporteur
          Arlene McCarthy MEP (UK socialist) also claimed to be aiming
          for a "restrictive harmonisation of the status quo" and
          "exclusion of software as such, algorithms and business methods
          from patentability". Yet McCarthy presented a voting list to
          fellow MEPs which, upon closer look, turns ideas like "Amazon
          One-Click Shopping" into patentable inventions. McCarthy and
          her followers rejected all amendment proposals that try to
          define central terms such as "technical" or "invention", while
          supporting some proposals which reinforce the patentability of
          software, e.g. by making publication of software a direct
          patent infringment, by stating that "computer-implemented
          inventions by their very nature belong to a field of
          technology", or by inserting new economic rationales
          ("self-evident" need for Europeans to rely on "patent
          protection" in view of "the present trend for traditional
          manufacturing industry to shift their operations to low-cost
          economies outside the European Union") into the recitals. Most
          of McCarthy's proposals found a conservative-socialist 2/3
          majority (20 of 30 MEPs), whereas most of the proposals from
          the other committees (CULT = Culture, ITRE = Industry) were
          rejected. Study reports commissioned by the Parliament and
          other EU institutions were disregarded or misquoted, as some of
          their authors point out (see below). A few socialists and
          conservatives voted together with Greens and Left in favor of
          real limits on patentability (such as the CULT opinion, based
          on traditional definitions, that "data processing is not a
          field of technology" and that technical invention is about "use
          of controllable forces of nature"), but they were overruled by
          the two largest blocks. Most MEPs simply followed the voting
          lists of their "patent experts", such as Arlene McCarthy (UK)
          for the Socialists (PSE) and shadow rapporteur Dr. Joachim
          Wuermeling (DE) for the Conservatives (EPP). Both McCarthy and
          Wuermeling have closely followed the advice of the directive
          proponents from the European Patent Office (EPO) and the
          European Commission's Industrial Property Unit (CEC-Indprop,
          represented by former UK Patent Office employee Anthony Howard)
          and declined all offers of dialog with software professionals
          and academia ever since they were nominated rapporteurs in May

   -> [23]Why Amazon One Click Shopping is Patentable under the Proposed
          EU Directive
          According to the European Commission (CEC)'s Directive Proposal
          COM(2002)92 for "Patentability of Computer-Implemented
          Inventions" and the revised version approved by the European
          Parliament's Committee for Legal Affairs and the Internal
          Market (JURI), algorithms and business methods such as Amazon
          One Click Shopping are without doubt patentable subject matter.
          This is because

         1. Any "computer-implemented" innovation is in principle
            considered to be a patentable "invention".
         2. The additional requirement of "technical contribution in the
            inventive step" does not mean what most people think it
         3. The directive proposal explicitly aims to codify the practise
            of the European Patent Office (EPO). The EPO has already
            granted thousands of patents on algorithms and business
            methods similar to Amazon One Click Shopping.
         4. CEC and JURI have built in further loopholes so that, even if
            some provisions are amended by the European Parliament,
            unlimited patentability remains assured.

   -> [24]FFII: Software Patents in Europe
          For the last few years the European Patent Office (EPO) has,
          contrary to the letter and spirit of the existing law, granted
          more than 30000 patents on computer-implemented rules of
          organisation and calculation (programs for computers). Now
          Europe's patent movement is pressing to consolidate this
          practise by writing a new law. Europe's programmers and
          citizens are facing considerable risks. Here you find the basic
          documentation, starting from a short overview and the latest


          media at ffii org

          Hartmut Pilch +49-89-18979927

          [25]Benjamin Henrion +32-10-454761

          More Contacts to be supplied upon request

About the Eurolinux Alliance --

   The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
   open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
   united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture
   based on copyright, open standards, open competition and open source
   software such as Linux. Corporate members or sponsors of EuroLinux
   develop or sell software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses
   for operating systems such as GNU/Linux, MacOS or MS Windows.

About the FFII --

   The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a
   non-profit association registered in Munich, which is dedicated to the
   spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of
   public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open
   standards. More than 250 members, 300 companies and 15,000 supporters
   have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy
   questions in the area of exclusivity rights (intellectual property) in
   the field of software.

Permanent URL of this Press Release


   [1] Room number to be announced tomorrow. External visitors,
   including journalists, need to register in advance. Please contact
   bxl030827 at ffii org for this purpose.



----- End forwarded message -----

Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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