[Fsfe-ie] Greens on software patents

Ryan Meade ryan at meade.net
Wed Jun 22 16:31:11 CEST 2005

PRESS RELEASE R11; Brussels, 21 June 2005

Software patents:

Conservatives and liberals deal a blow to small business and innovation

Commenting on a vote on the software patenting directive in the European Parliament's legal affairs committee yesterday, Eva Lichtenberger Austrian Green member of the committee, and Monica Frassoni, co-president of the Greens/EFA group, said:

"This vote opens the doors for the software market's dinosaurs. Members of the EPP and ALDE groups consistently voted to adopt the weakest amendments and thus watered down the text in order to create maximum legal uncertainty. This will give big business the opportunity – with the help of well-paid patent lawyers – to sew up the European market and throw out smaller players."

"Though all political groups claim that they want to exclude 'pure' software patents from the directive. the pro-big business majority in the committee succeeded in creating dangerous loopholes. A definition of the difference between software and technique, for example, says that software can be considered to be the novel feature in an invention, and thus is patentable."

"For consumers and clients one of the most important criteria is interoperability. Here a majority of mainly conservative and liberal committee members chose a definition that was tailor-made for companies like Nokia to give them the possibility of earning extra-money on patent fees if someone else decides to construct interoperable technical devices."

"The vote is a major blow to small and medium enterprises and the conservatives and liberals were definitely aware of what they were doing. In some amendments they favoured creating a fund and a committee to help SMEs threatened by patent litigation. This is a bit like wounding someone but giving them painkillers afterwards."

"As defenders of free software and SMEs in Europe we were unable to win this first vote. But in the decisive vote in the July plenary session we will do our outmost to prevail. The stakes are high. We risk losing our capability to protect SMEs from the expensive and time-consuming process of patent litigation, and seeing a highly innovative part of the European economy 'colonised' by Microsoft and the other IT giants."


Press service of the Greens/EFA group
in the European Parliament


Damian Connon



European Green Party

31 Rue Wiertz

1050 Brussels


info at europeangreens.org

phone: +32-2-6260720

fax:     +32-2-6260729



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