[Fsfe-ie] (Fwd) EU patent officials meeting this week. Letters needed *n

Niall Douglas 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[1],

The European Parliament voted in September for a clear exclusion[2] 
software from patentability, having heard powerful arguments from
economists[3], scientists[4], small business associations[5] and
MEPs[6] that software patents would be bad for e-commerce[7], bad for
small businesses[8], and bad for innovation[9].

But this vote is in danger of being set aside[10] at a meeting of the
EU's Competitiveness Council of Ministers[11] on 10 November. The
ministers' meeting is to be "negotiated" at a meeting of senior 
officials[12] 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[13], which is even worse than the infamous McCarthy
report[14]. 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[15] 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[16] 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[17]. The 
   has been particularly active in lobbying[18] 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[19]
   drawn up by patent offices across Europe. The Nov 2002 version
   actively supports software patenting, unlike the September 2003
   European Parliament text[20].

   Replies from ministers[21] are claiming that the UK Patent 
   consultation[22] 3 years ago produced results which were "broadly
   in favour" of the UKPO position. In fact, the views[23] 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"[24] 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[25], bad for small
   businesses[26] and bad for innovation[27]. That is why leading
   economists[28], scientists[29], small business associations[30],
   and MEPs[31] all urged the European Parliament to vote against
   software patents.

 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[32] unamended, but instead
       to substantially revise it, adopting and building on the
       Parliament amendments.

     * 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[33] 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"[34]. 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[35]; has no article 6a to allow
       interoperability[36] -- and it would allow program claims[37],
       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[38], the minister for e-commerce
       at the DTI.

     * BY ASKING your local MP to forward your concerns, you should
     get a
       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,
           SW1A 0AA

     * 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 [39]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
          university, 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
            their problems.

     * 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
     make a
       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[40]
     * Sign the Eurolinux petition[41] 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[42].


   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.

   2. http://swpat.ffii.org/journal/03/fsfr1010/index.en.html
   3. http://www.researchineurope.org/policy/patentdirltr.htm
   oEP_EN.pdf 5.
   ml 6.
   7. http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#ecommerce 8.
   http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#developers 9.
  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.
  20030201+RULE-080+DOC+XML+V0//EN&HNAV=Y 17.
  http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/ippd/issues/softpat.htm 18.
  http://swpat.ffii.org//players/uk/index.en.html 19.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/nov2002.html 20.
  http://swpat.ffii.org/papers/europarl0309/ 21.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/hewitt.html 22.
  http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/consultations/conclusions.htm 23.
  .htm 24. http://www.vrijschrift.org/swpat/030508_1/ 25.
  http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#ecommerce 26.
  http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#developers 27.
  http://elis.ugent.be/~jmaebe/swpat/why.html#innovation 28.
  http://www.researchineurope.org/policy/patentdirltr.htm 29.
  EP_EN.pdf 30.
  l 31.
  32. http://www.ffii.org.uk/nov2002.html 33.
  http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~mgk25/stallman-patents.html 34.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/technical.html 35.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/fields_of_tech.html 36.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/interop.html 37.
  http://www.ffii.org.uk/program_claims.html 38.
  http://www.dti.gov.uk/ministers/ministers/timms.html 39.
  http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/ippd/issues/softpat.htm 40.
  http://aktiv.ffii.org/?l=en 41.
  http://petition.eurolinux.org/index_html?LANG=en 42.
------- End of forwarded message -------

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