[Fsfe-ie] Swpat: possible players

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Tue Dec 2 01:25:03 CET 2003

James Heald wrote:
> I've been looking through websites, trying to identify more potential 
> players.

Interestingly, the newsletter editor at Enterprise Ireland seems to be 
solidly skeptical:

Uproar over EU Software Patent Directive Plans (15 Sept 2003)

The profile of the EU Patent office, based in Munich, has been 
significantly raised through mass objections by the online community 
about the manner in which software-related patents are being awarded.

The primary issue is that unlike copyrights, a patent can block new 
independent creations; one copyrighted piece of software could be deemed 
illegal as patents may cover the development - yet the author may be 
wholly unaware of these patents.

More [<http://swpat.ffii.org/cnino/03/index.en.html>]


Patenting Software (7 July 2003)

The EU Parliament have delayed the voting on a directive with regard to 
EU-wide software patenting. This proposal has caused huge opposition 
among the community of software developers and companies throughout 
Europe. The EU proposal is likely to affect small software producers 
while also having a negative effect on the general state of open-source 
software production and distribution among the member states. The main 
fear within the industry is that the proposed directive will adversely 
affect the development of software. Expensive patent legal battles could 
erupt within Europe, as in the US, where large patent-holding 
competitors have sued smaller developers.

The EU contends that patenting is necessary to ensure profit for 
software companies and have put limits in place at to what exactly can 
be patented thereby encouraging innovation. But opposition to the 
directive point out that the current legislation would allow any 
software idea or process to be patented. The French government has 
openly criticised the proposed directive, which they say does not set 
clear boundaries as to what can be patented.

A strong vocal body exists throughout the member states and they have 
been raising awareness of the danger of this directive among their 
MEP's, the public and anyone who will listen. The vote of whether to 
pass this directive was scheduled to occur in September but was 
rescheduled for 1st July leaving just 10 days for lobbyists, such as 
Eurolinux [<http://www.eurolinux.org>], to build there anti EU-wide 
patent campaign. It was rescheduled again on the 30th of June and will 
not be debated until September 2003. This was due to the controversy 
caused by the proposal, and to allow MEP's to gain a greater 
understanding of the issues involved.



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