[Fsfe-ie] Re: [Free-sklyarov-uk] Update on software patents

James Heald j.heald at ucl.ac.uk
Tue Nov 11 10:22:06 CET 2003

Philip Hunt wrote:
> On Friday 07 November 2003  1:27 pm, James Heald wrote:
>>The briefing gives two options on the timing for Competitiveness Council
>>of Ministers to make a political decision on the direction of the
>>Council common text:
>>(i) The meeting of the Competitiveness Council on November 27th.  This
>>is the last date for political agreement, if the Directive is to
>>complete its stages before the EuroParl elections next year.
> Incidently, whatever happened to the meeting that was going to happen
> on November 10th (Monday), according to 
> <http://www.ffii.org.uk/council.html>?

The original "plan A" intended by the UK Patent Office was for the 
Working Group meeting on October 23 to re-confirm the November 2002 
draft, which was then to be rubber-stamped by the ministers on November 

In the event this didn't happen.

According to reports we have of the October 23rd meeting,

* The presidency and the Commission prefer the fast-track road, because 
they think a lot of our amendments will not be able to get an absolute 
majority in second reading (this seems to be their decisive factor as to 
which strategy to pursue, according to our source), making their job 
easier. Therefore, both the Commission and the presidency will try to 
get a new common position of the council asap.

* France has indicated in that 23rd October meeting that it wants to 
have a thorough discussion about the amendments with all involved 
parties and wants to study the amendments in great detail. UK and 
Germany confirmed the previous standpoint of the Council should not be 
simply repeated. The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden want to take their 
time to study the amendments as well. Belgium did not take a position, 
because the minister had not been informed about that meeting by her 
civil servants (??) and as such the Coreper people had not received any 
instructions from her.

Note that despite being the delegation which originally proposed the 
adoption of the November 2002 draft unamended, by October 23 the UK had 
decided that the previous standpoint should *not* simply be repeated. 
This is the clearest evidence of the impact that our letter writing has 
been making.  The UK ministers *did* overrule the patent office, and 
*may* now be open to what we have to say.

So far they have received hundreds of letters.  That has been enough to 
get them to stop and think.  But we need to make even more of a splash 
if we are to actually convince them on the issues.  Every letter really 
does count.

The working group is next going to meet on 17 November to try to draft a 
political statement on the fundamental principles of the directive.

If they can agree it at that meeting, they will try to get it on to the 
agenda for the 27 November meeting of the Competitiveness Council of 

The biggest threat to us at the moment is that Governments across Europe 
will simply rubber-stamp a package prepared on 17 November.

We should be urging Governments to insist that the 'technical experts' 
produce not a cut-and-dried package, but instead an options document 
which can be openly discussed in the political arenas of each of the 
member states; and for the negotiations on the final strategy to be 
located at the political level, not the technical level, and then only 
after public discussion.

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