[Fsfe-ie] Dutch revoking their swpat vote
ian at locut.us
Wed Jun 23 11:57:51 CEST 2004
If this is the same story I read on osnews then the subject is
misleading. The Dutch have not yet decided to do this, but it is
possible that they will.
Justin Mason wrote:
> EU Patents - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over
> Tuesday, June 22 2004 @ 06:19 AM EDT
> If you thought the EU patent story was a done deal, I suggest you read
> this account by Arend Lammertink on his efforts to turn things
> around in the Netherlands, which may result in the Dutch Parliament
> revoking its vote approving the patent directive. Lammertink holds a
> Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Twente
> and works as a Software Engineer for dGB Earth Sciences that
> specializes in quantitative seismic interpretation software and
> services. OpendTect, one of the company's products, is "the world's
> first open source seismic interpretation system". He writes:
> "Seemed as good as lost. But it ain't over yet. We've played our
> cards (and luck!) quite nicely here in The Netherlands (if I may
> say so myself) and at this moment the Dutch Parliament is actually
> considering to revoke the vote Minister Brinkhorst gave at the
> Council. This has never happened before in the history of the
> European Union!. . . .
> "The Dutch parliament will make a final decision about the position
> the Minister will take in September. A debate about this issue will
> take place at Thursday, the 24th of June, 19:45-20:45 CET. Also see
> the official agenda of the Commission for Economic Affairs. They
> may also decide to require the European Presidency to open a new
> voting procedure, which would completely reopen the case for all
> member states . . .
> "Remember, all European countries can legally revoke their vote if
> they want to and they have the power to require the European
> Presidency to open a new voting procedure, which would completely
> reopen the case for all member states."
> A preliminary report by several Spanish experts on European procedural
> law, under the coordination of Dr. Luis Fajardo Lopez, confirms
> that the votes can be changed:
> "There are legal ways to change the position adopted on May the
> 18th meeting. In other words, at this procedural moment there is no
> legal obstacles to reversing the political agreement on common
> positions, neither to adopt a new probably more balanced political
> The article is full of references, including to this 1998 article
> that claims in the past the BSA sued companies and agencies that
> couldn't prove ownership of their software, Microsoft's and that of
> others, and then settled on terms that the company from that day
> forward use only Microsoft software, a charge Microsoft denied.
> Novell, however, said the sweetheart deals that left Novell out in the
> cold did happen that way:
> "In 1995 Antel, the national telephone company of Uruguay, was
> caught pirating $100,000 worth of unlicensed software programs from
> Microsoft, Novell, and Symantec. Antel was nabbed by the Business
> Software Alliance, a trade association that partly acts as a global
> bounty hunter for the software industry. The BSA's lawyers in
> Uruguay quickly filed suit.
> "But instead of waiting for a ruling on the case, the BSA abruptly
> dropped the suit in the fall of 1997. The BSA receives funding from
> most of the top software companies but appears to be most heavily
> funded by Microsoft. And, according to Antel's information
> technology manager, Ricardo Tascenho, the company settled the
> matter by signing a 'special agreement' with Microsoft to replace
> all of its software with Microsoft products. . . .
> "Felipe Yungman, Novell's manager of security for Argentina, says
> he and another staffer at Novell discovered, while pursuing their
> own investigation for the company, that the BSA was setting up
> sweetheart deals for Microsoft. 'Companies or government offices
> had to, as a condition [that the BSA] forgive them of piracy,
> replace Novell products with Microsoft products,' he says."
> In an interview with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, he first praises
> his company for all the R & D they do, and then indicates they intend
> to be paid back for it by using their patents:
> "Since Microsoft went public in 1986, we have invested a total of
> $36 billion in R&D, creating a wide range of integrated
> technologies that have helped customers and developers do more.
> Over the next 6 years alone, we will invest another $40 billion in
> innovation, continuing to make us a top R&D spender in any
> industry. Specifically, our focus is on integrated innovation,
> making our products and services work together and understanding
> how customers use technology and information to improve their
> lives. No other company in our industry is focused on this kind of
> innovation. We also are filing for 2,000 patents a year, a number
> we expect to increase in the years ahead."
> What does a company need 2,000 patents a year for? Maybe to supplement
> the BSA's alleged activities? Maybe they realize their days are
> numbered as a software vendor, that FOSS is the future. If they can't
> muscle us into using their software, perhaps they can force us to pay
> a toll for using whatever we prefer. Wait a sec. Isn't that SCO's
> impossible dream? Or maybe they'll just use patents to sue FOSS out of
> the market as Plan B? No doubt they will daintily use others, like
> patent pool companies that have little to lose, to do their fighting
> for them. Say, is that legal for a monopoly to do? To use their power
> and assets to gang up on the competition and make it impossible to
> The EU patent decision will play a role in what happens to free and
> open source software's ability to compete. It's very odd to me that
> governments, many of which have announced that they intend to switch
> to GNU/Linux, don't connect the dots and comprehend that there is a
> connection between having that choice and patent decisions they make.
> It does seem that there was a measure of confusion in the minds of
> those voting, and that at least some thought they were voting to
> curtail software patents. Perhaps they should read this
> article,"Why Europe Should Be Wary of Software Patents," by Brian
> Kahin, who is a visiting professor in the School of Information, Ford
> School of Public Policy, and Department of Communication Studies, at
> the University of Michigan. He was formerly Senior Policy Analyst at
> the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where he was
> responsible for the intellectual property and digital economy issues:
> "Large companies amass portfolios for strategic purposes:
> cross-licensing, blocking, deterrence, and revenue generation. . .
> .While patents facilitate niche entry by small companies, patent
> portfolios disadvantage small companies seeking to enter markets
> for complex products. They have little to trade, but they need a
> lot of licences. But how many, and from whom? As Robert Barr of
> Cisco testified at a FTC roundtable: 'There are too many patents to
> be able to even locate which ones are problematic. I used to say
> only IBM does clearance ... but IBM tells me even they don't do
> clearance searches anymore.' . . .
> "As last month's Managing Intellectual Property interview with
> Marshall Phelps, the architect of IBM's licensing programme, shows,
> Microsoft wants to start earning returns from its massive
> portfolio. After all, why shouldn't users pay innovators? Why
> shouldn't today's developers pay tribute to the R&D investments of
> the past 20 years? Why should European developers, small, medium,
> open source, or otherwise, get a free ride on Microsoft and IBM?
> "This might be a reasonable argument if developers actually learned
> anything from these massive portfolios, but from most accounts
> nobody reads software patents. Programmers don't use reference
> manuals, patents are not written to convey knowledge beyond the
> bare minimum needed to fulfil legal requirements, and lawyers
> advise against reading patents because of the risk of wilful
> infringement. . . .
> "According to an AIPLA economic report, when the amount in a
> controversy is under $1 million the average cost per side is half a
> million (2003), not including staff time and opportunity costs.
> Licence fees of $10,000 look pretty good compared to the costs of
> contesting patents.
> "On the other hand, licence fees of $10,000 or even $100 kill the
> open source model of software distribution."
> So, that's the game. Remember all the criticism of Linus which SCO
> heaped on him for saying he didn't do patent searches? Now you know
> the rest of the story. Nobody does them.
> Many of you may be planning to attend LinuxTag next week. If so,
> perhaps you may be interested in the following information from Jan
> Wildeboer, which he asked me to relay to you:
> Next week the LinuxTag will take place, Europe's biggest Linux
> event. Software patents will be a major theme, of course, now that
> we may have to face complete patentability
> Many people will wear the following T-Shirt:
> FFII (http://www.ffii.org), mySQL, FSF-Europe etc. will hold a
> demonstration against software patents in Europe at Thursday, 24.
> June starting at 6:00 pm.
> We will have 10 "programmers in chains" - they will wear prisoners
> costumes with patent numbers on them. This is meant to ... inform
> of what is about to happen.
> More information here: http://kwiki.ffii.org/DemoKarlsruhe04En
> Banners here: http://dhcp42.de/ltag/index2.html
> Media contact: jw at domainfactory.de
> You may also find this FFII press release of interest, because it
> also indicates that the deal isn't yet firm, and that there are
> efforts to reinstate the amendments that were dropped in May:
> "It is not yet certain that the Irish Presidency has secured a real
> majority. To re-instate amendments in the European parliament
> requires absolute majorities. This is achievable: many of the
> amendments did achieve this level of support in the first reading.
> But some of the votes are likely to be very close."
> The press release says that it was Germany that did not stand firm, by
> the way, and was instrumental in getting the draft compromise passed.
> Visible links
> 37. http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=7442&page=1
> 38. http://www.vrijschrift.nl/Members/arend/Fajardo-Lopez-Law-Office_Preliminary-Report_on_17-18thMay_EU-Council.pdf
> 39. http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/1998/01/burstein.html
> 40. http://www.activewin.com/interviews/microsoft/36.shtml
> 41. http://www.si.umich.edu/~kahin/mip.html
> 42. http://swpat.ffii.org/
> 43. http://dhcp42.de/ltag/index.html
> 44. http://www.ffii.org/
> 45. http://kwiki.ffii.org/DemoKarlsruhe04En
> 46. http://dhcp42.de/ltag/index2.html
> 47. http://swpat.ffii.org/log/04/cons0518/index.en.html
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