[Fsfe-ie] Dutch revoking their swpat vote

Ian Clarke 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:
> http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20040620104329294
>    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
>    [37]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, [38]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
>      compromise."
>    The article is full of references, including to this 1998 [39]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 [40]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
>    compete?
>    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,[41]"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
>      ([42]http://swpat.ffii.org).
>      Many people will wear the following T-Shirt:
>      [43]http://dhcp42.de/ltag/index.html
>      FFII ([44]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: [45]http://kwiki.ffii.org/DemoKarlsruhe04En
>      Banners here: [46]http://dhcp42.de/ltag/index2.html
>      Media contact: jw at domainfactory.de
>    You may also find this [47]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.
> ....
> References
>    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
> _______________________________________________
> fsfe-ie at fsfeurope.org mailing list
> List information: http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/fsfe-ie
> Public archive: https://mail.fsfeurope.org/mailman/listinfo/fsfe-ie

More information about the FSFE-IE mailing list