[Fsfe-ie] (Fwd) EU patent officials meeting this week. Letters needed *n
s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Tue Oct 21 21:02:39 CEST 2003
Any idea who the Irish representative will be, and their address so I
can write to them?
------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent: 21 Oct 2003 07:00:38 -0000
To: s_eurolinux at nedprod.com
Subject: EU patent officials meeting this week. Letters needed *now*
From: ffiiuk-help at ffii.org
[SWPAT] EU patent officials meeting this week. Letters needed *now*.
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure UK
Dear UK Supporter,
The European Parliament voted in September for a clear exclusion
software from patentability, having heard powerful arguments from
economists, scientists, small business associations and
MEPs that software patents would be bad for e-commerce, bad for
small businesses, and bad for innovation.
But this vote is in danger of being set aside at a meeting of the
EU's Competitiveness Council of Ministers on 10 November. The
ministers' meeting is to be "negotiated" at a meeting of senior
officials from across Europe even sooner: this Thursday 23
If UK ministers cannot be convinced otherwise before 10 November, it
is believed they will push for the Council to adopt a November 2002
draft text, which is even worse than the infamous McCarthy
report. The European Parliament's rules for second reading make
very difficult for MEPs to fix a bad text from the Council.
So far UK ministers have been sleepwalking, automatically following a
Patent Office script. The FFII is therefore calling for all
supporters to contact their local MPs, as soon as possible. We have
until 10 November at the latest to wake up UK ministers up the
of software patents. If at all possible we need to try to make an
impact before this Thursday.
It could be our last good chance to stop software patents in Europe.
Every letter could be the one which tips the balance.
Every letter counts.
--- Contents of this Alert:
* How important is the Council of Ministers?
* What is the UK position?
* Are software patents good for software developers?
* What does the minister need to know?
* Who to contact
* How to be effective
* How to stay in touch
A web version can be found at
Supporters elsewhere in Europe should see this page at FFII to
for information on who to contact, and what else you can do.
How important is the Council of Ministers' decision?
VERY. The European Parliament's rules for second reading make it
far more difficult for MEPs to fix a bad text from the Council,
because any amendments need an absolute majority of all of the
623 elected MEPs -- ie usually far more than 50% of those actually
voting in the chamber.
What is the UK position?
UK policy has so far been led by the UK Patent Office. The
has been particularly active in lobbying for unlimited
patentability and is unlikely to support a platform which is
acceptable to anyone except the patent industry.
Unless they can be convinced otherwise, UK Government ministers
being led by UKPO officials to support the November 2002 draft
drawn up by patent offices across Europe. The Nov 2002 version
actively supports software patenting, unlike the September 2003
European Parliament text.
Replies from ministers are claiming that the UK Patent
consultation 3 years ago produced results which were "broadly
in favour" of the UKPO position. In fact, the views of
professionals (as opposed to patent professionals) were
overwhelmingly against software patents.
Are software patents good for software developers?
NO. "Software patents are like landmines for programmers. At each
design decision, there is a chance you will step on a patent and
will destroy your project. Considering the large number of ideas
that must be combined in a modern program, the danger becomes very
large." -- Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project.
Supporters of e-patents often make the simple equation
patents ==innovation == growth.
One of the most interesting articles to rebut this is "e-Patents
and financial investing" by Laura Creighton, a software
capitalist. It explains why software patents are not necessary,
usually even helpful, and give surprisingly little real
Software patents are bad for e-commerce, bad for small
businesses and bad for innovation. That is why leading
economists, scientists, small business associations,
and MEPs all urged the European Parliament to vote against
What does the minister needs to know?
* Our central request is for the the Council of Ministers not to
adopt its draft November 2002 text unamended, but instead
to substantially revise it, adopting and building on the
* Most importantly, we need to convince the Government that
patents are a bad idea. Ministers should not just follow the
advice of the UK Patent Office (UKPO) uncritically. Currently
UKPO are both judge and jury, and about as likely to campaign
for real limits on software patents as turkeys are to vote for
Christmas. Ministers must be challenged to consider for
themselves what is really in the best interests of the UK
software industry and all UK computer users,
* Free software is directly threatened by software patents.
it is essential that the campaign against software patents is
not just "special pleading" by supporters of Open Source -
"free-love, open-standard, freeware fanatics" according to one
patent lawyer. The entire industry would be damaged by
patenting and litigation. If you write about free software,
please make clear how important it is to the whole software
industry and commercial end-users.
* The directive claims to allow the patenting of new "technical"
devices, but not the patenting of "generic pure software". But
the EPO regards almost any software innovation as
"technical". Without an explicit definition, European
Courts will be forced to follow the EPO doctrine. The European
Parliament's most important amendment is its new very clear
definition of what is and what is not "technical".
* The November 2002 draft also makes abstract data processing a
field of technology; has no article 6a to allow
interoperability -- and it would allow program claims,
so that just discussing code on a website can be a direct
patent infringement. Ministers must re-open the November 2002
text. Every letter counts.
Who to contact
* WRITE to your local MP as soon as possible with your concerns
about software patents, and ask your MP to bring them to the
attention of Stephen Timms MP, the minister for e-commerce
at the DTI.
* BY ASKING your local MP to forward your concerns, you should
reply personally signed by the minister. You could of course
just write to the minister directly; but if you do, you will
just receive a standard civil service reply, and the minister
will never see it.
* FIND your local MPs by typing your postcode into
Then WRITE to your MP at:
Name of MP,
House of Commons,
* COPY your letters to uk-parl-sent @ ffii.org.uk, and replies
uk-parl-replies @ ffii.org.uk
You should only write to your own local MP. You may also wish
to send a blind copy of your letter to Richard Mulcahy at
the Patent Office.
How to be effective
* DO: make your letter personal. Explain who you are, how this
affects you, and why it matters to you.
* DON'T: write the same as everybody else. MPs ignore form
Decide which is the most logical or important starting point
for you, and then bring in other points around that.
* IF you are:
+ a small business: tell your MP why and how a rush to
patents would afftect your business. Be sure to mention
your turnover and number of employees -- real money and
real jobs are at stake.
+ a user of software: tell your MP what makes you afraid of
monopolisation and loss of choice.
+ a member of a political party, a trade union, a
consumer organisation, a business association, or any
other sort of organised body: think how you can mobilise
your organisation to make its voice heard.
+ a consultant: explain to your clients - and the MP - why
software patents will make it harder for you to solve
* DO: be polite, reasonable and well-informed (insane abuse
help). Be focussed and to the point. If your letter is very
long, write a short one-page executive summary bulletting the
main points, and use it as a covering letter to introduce the
full brain dump.
* DO: spread the word. There is very little time, and we need to
huge impact. So unless you want to see legislation for
unlimited patentability, pass the message on to other people.
Encourage them to write.
How to stay in touch
* Join the FFII list of supporters
* Sign the Eurolinux petition against software patents.
* If you want to do more, or to keep in touch with the campaign
daily, join the ffii-uk email list at ffii.org.uk - further
instructions on the FFII-UK main page.
1. You have signed the Petition http://noepatents.org
and/or Call for Action
and thereby explicitely allowed us to send occasional
alerts. We make very rare use of this permission.
7. http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#ecommerce 8.
11. http://wiki.ael.be/index.php/CouncilOfMinisters 12.
=Search+Now 13. http://www.ffii.org.uk/nov2002.html 14.
html 15. http://swpat.ffii.org/group/todo/index.en.html 16.
.htm 24. http://www.vrijschrift.org/swpat/030508_1/ 25.
32. http://www.ffii.org.uk/nov2002.html 33.
------- End of forwarded message -------
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Size: 208 bytes
Desc: not available
Url : http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/fsfe-ie/attachments/20031021/9e5e18d5/attachment.pgp
More information about the FSFE-IE