[Fsfe-ie] Re: 2004 dates for the EU Competitiveness Council

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Dec 1 21:02:08 CET 2003

James Heald wrote:

> Here are the relevant meetings scheduled for the Irish presidency, 

More on the key players in Ireland:

The Irish Patents Office has a website at
According to them,

> Since 1993, the Intellectual Property Unit of Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment has had responsibility for certain legislative and policy matters relating to intellectual property. The Patents Office provides input in the drafting of certain legislation and in the formulation/implementation of policy in relation to the development of the system of intellectual property protection.


The Intellectual Property Unit home page is:

> The Intellectual Property Unit is responsible for the development of intellectual property policy, the preparation of legislation and the provision of an intellectual property regime which reflects the international law environment and best practice.
> The Unit also acts as a liaison section between the Department and the Patents Office and liaises with the Office on policy and legislative matters. 


> Queries on policy matters should be directed to the Intellectual Property Unit.

A list of their currently open policy dossiers can be found atL

It looks as though Orla Jones may be the civil servant with 
line-responsibility for the software patents dossier -- the filename for 
the copy of the November 2002 draft on the site is "orlaone.pdf"  :-)

The chain of command appears to be:

1.  Tony McGrath (Principal Officer)
2.  Jacob Rajan (Principal Examiner)
3.  Helen Curley (Assistant Principal)
4.  Orla Jones (Administrative Officer)
5.  Una McKeown (Executive Officer)

Email addresses and direct telephone numbers can be found at:
But let's be *very careful* about how we make first contact.

For the moment, I suggest that *any* communication with the IPU go 
through IFSO (Irish Free Software Organisation), and be co-ordinated by 
them.  I suggest that, at least for the moment, we do *not* publicise 
the IPU contact information on any public website of our own.

Probably we should first quickly sound out friendly politicians, MEPs 
and academics to find out how the office works.  The best way to make 
first contact, to establish us with most importance and representative 
credibility, might be to try to achieve an introduction either from a 
politician or somebody the unit already knows, talks to, and respects.

There is a Patent Office Users' Council, which looks to be the main 
standing consultative body.

> Patents Office Users' Council
> Officials of the Intellectual Property Unit chair meetings and provide secretariat backup to the Patents Office Users' Council, which was set up in April, 1997 to facilitate the better delivery of the industrial property services of the Patents Office. The Council is made up of representatives of the Association of Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, the Licensing Executives Society, Enterprise Ireland, Academia and the Patents Office. 

It would be valuable to know if any ad-hoc special advisory committee 
has been set up to give feedback on discussions on the swpat directive, 
and/or who the IP Unit turns to when it wants external advice on the 

In any case need to quickly identify who are the major Irish academics 
and opinion forming 'experts' on patent law / patent economics / 
innovation economics, and start sounding them out informally as soon as 
possible -- either through IFSO (especially via somebody with a serious 
SME background), or if appropriate via friendly academics elsewhere in 
the EU and the USA.

The academic quoted in the ENN piece clearly fits into this category, 
and it's a good sign that her immediate association with the term 
"software patent" is "Amazon 1-click ordering".  Dublin-based, she may 
be able to shed some very useful light on the most important informal 
networks of policy-discussion in this area, if we can gently establish 
contact in a friendly way, without scaring her into a defensive "take 
cover, under attack by lobbyists" mode.

The biggest companies probably have their own very good sources of 
information as to how the negotiations are progressing.  Most 
governments probably keep their "national interests" in close 
consultation with how the negotiations are progressing.  I think what we 
need to communicate to the Irish presidency the most is how much more 
bumpy than necessary the Parliament process was made because certian 
players did their very best to keep us out of the tent.

If we can establish a good informal working contact with the Irish 
government IP unit, this should make both for better legislation, and a 
much smoother, easier, more productive legislative process.

In a sense, we're getting onto the train rather late -- according to 
what we hear from the UKPO, the EU Council's "Working Party on 
Intellectual Property (Patents)" has already had two "very productive" 
meetings.  We need to find out a.s.a.p. where the negotiations are now 
at, and what issues are open and in play.  Let's just hope they haven't 
already closed the book on too many of the most important questions.

All best,


PS. As an interesting footnote, the Irish PTO glosses the Art 52 EPC 
exceptions as follows:

> An invention is not patentable if it is merely (a) a discovery, a scientific theory or a mathematical method; (b) an aesthetic creation; (c) a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a computer program; or (d) the presentation of information.
> Although such subject-matter or activities are not patentable their use or application may be patentable. For example, a scheme or method for playing a game is not patentable, but it is possible to obtain patent protection for a novel apparatus for playing a game. Also, the exclusion from patentability of computer programs does not extend to plant, processes of manufacture or control processes controlled by a computer program. 


although the actual law uses the usual 'as such' language (section 9 of 
the Patents Act 1992):

> (3) The provisions of subsection (2) shall exclude patentability of subject-matter or activities referred to in that subsection only to the extent to which a patent application or patent relates to such subject-matter or activities as such.


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