[Fsfe-ie] Dutch Parliament reverses swpat vote

Ian Clarke ian at locut.us
Fri Jul 2 12:57:24 CEST 2004

From: http://swpat.ffii.org/~blasum/pr/pr.en.txt

01/07/04: Dutch Parliament forces Minister Brinkhorst to withdraw
           support for software patents directive

Today, July 1st, the Dutch Parliament has decided to direct Minister
Brinkhorst and Secretary of State van Gennip (Economic Affairs) to
withdraw the Dutch vote in support of the Council of Ministers' text
for the Directive on Software Patents.  This is the first time in the
history of the EU that such a course of action has been undertaken.

The idea of allowing patents on software has been strongly criticized
among SMEs, scientists and consumer organisations. They inhibit
investments in Research and Development and contribute to higher
prices. Commentators also fear the rise of a "lawyers paradise" in
Europe such as is found in the USA, where programmers are constantly
threatened by lawsuits.

This act represents an incisive criticism of the European Council of
Ministers' attempts to introduce broad patentability of software.
Minister Brinkhorst, acting on behalf of the Netherlands, endorsed the
Council's current proposal, which not only reiterated the terms of the
Council's strongly criticized first proposal, but went even further,
directly rebuffing the clear stance assumed by the EU Parliament,
which voted to add numerous amendments which made clear how the
category of logical algorithms would be treated.

The European Parliament's version asserted that patents would only be
allowed for industrial inventions (e.g. washing machines) and would
not be made possible for pure software.  All these adaptations were
removed in the Council of Ministers' controversial version.

Earlier, Brinkhorst described the Council proposal to the Dutch
Parliament as a compromise with the EP. In recent legislative debates,
Van Gennip was forced to admit that this was incorrect information,
and attributed it to "an error in the word processor."

The Dutch Parliament rejected this explanation and today it rendered
an historic and groundbreaking decision, calling upon Minister
Brinkhorst and van Gennip to withdraw the Netherlands' supporting vote
in the European Council and convert it to an abstention. This measure
is possible because at the present moment there is only a "political
agreement" and the "formal vote" can only take place after the
contested text has been translated into the 20 European languages. An
emergency brake move in the procedure such as this has never been
exercised before.

With this decision, the Dutch Parliament demonstrates the active
interest her public holds in the debate over software patents, and her
recognition and appreciation for the adaptations introduced by the
European Parliament.

Dieter Van Uytvanck, spokesman of FFII Netherlands, stresses the
importance of this decision:

     This political signal reaches much further than just The
     Netherlands. We hope that other European countries that also have
     their doubts about the proposal of the Council will also withdraw
     their support, so that the current proposal no longer has a
     majority. The historic precedent has been set now.

     Let this be a lesson to the lawmakers in Brussels: the European
     citizen watches you closely. It is much better to take this into
     account from the beginning than to get into trouble later.

Reports of earlier debates are available at:

* http://kwiki.ffii.org/index.cgi?NlParlDebate0426En
* http://kwiki.ffii.org/?NlGovLttrResp0422En


Wiebe van der Worp
wiebe at vrijschrift.org
tel. +31 6 28 195 808

Ir. Arend Lammertink:
alam at home.nl
tel. +31 6 5425 6426

Dieter Van Uytvanck:
dieter at vrijschrift.nl
tel. +32 499 16 70 10

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