[Fsfe-ie] Letter to Creevy

Ben North ben at redfrontdoor.org
Wed Feb 16 10:02:51 CET 2005

Couple of missing apostrophes ("the Council's text", "the litigator's
claim").  Some paragraphs argue against software patents in general, and
some argue for the restart.  Should they be ordered so that each group
is together?  Maybe restart first, then supporting points for the
argument against allowing swpat?

(Was there a difference between paragraphs with = bullets and with *

Including changes others on the list have made, that would leave us with
something like the text below.

As usual, feel free to take any or none of these changes into your final


(I fixed the JURI-restart voting figures, taking the new numbers from


which states:

   The decision, taken by 19 votes in favour, 1 against and 1
   abstention, [...]


- - - - 8< - - - -

Dear Commissioner McCreevy,

The Irish Free Software Organisation would like to briefly explain why
the "software patents directive" should be restarted:

* On Feb 2nd, you said "Having no directive means continuing to rely on
  case law, which leads to considerable legal uncertainty which is why
  we must strive to find a balanced solution."  IFSO agrees with this.
  The Council's text, though, which relies on undefined terms such as
  "technical effect" and "industrial application", would impose the most
  liberal interpretation of what can be patented on the EU, effectively
  legitimising software patents.

* The parliament voted to correct these problems by a 75% majority; JURI
  voted 19-to-1 for a restart.  Since the MEPs in the European
  Parliament and JURI committee are the only directly elected
  representatives involved in this process, it would be a regrettable
  example of the EU's "democratic deficit" if they were to be ignored.

and why patents on software ideas would be harmful for Europe:

* The US Federal Trade Commission's 2003 "Report on Innovation" said that
  "software and internet patents" were obstructing innovation.

* Every patent is a regulation on software writers.  The added bureacracy of
  obtaining permission to use a software idea, and the added legal costs of
  patent searches and litigation would greatly harm the Lisbon strategy's
  aim to increase the competitiveness of the EU.

* The costs of patent searches and the possible cost of litigation,
  whether the litigator's claim is valid or not, are too high for any
  individual and most businesses.  For those writing software, the
  introduction of patents would not just raise the barrier to entry, it
  would create a barrier where previously there was none.

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