[Fsfe-ie] Watchdogs criticise "misleading" software patents campaign

Teresa Hackett teresahackett at eircom.net
Wed Jun 29 19:55:32 CEST 2005

 From the A2K list.

-------- Original Message --------


Amsterdam, June 28 2005


LobbyControl and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
have today written to European Commissioner Siim Kallas
to alert him of misleading lobbying campaigns run by public
relations firms. The two watchdog groups are part of
ALTER-EU, a new civil society coalition for enforceable
transparency and ethics rules for lobbyists. Anti-fraud
Commissioner Kallas oversees the preparations for the
European Transparency Initiative, intended to increase
transparency around lobbying.

The Campaign for Creativity‚, which lobbies to make
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) vote for
software patents, is the most recent example of a dubious
grass roots‚ campaign. „Mandatory disclosure and ethics
rules are the only way to effectively discourage such
deceptive lobbying practices‰, says Ulrich Mueller of

In its lobbying towards MEPs, the Campaign for Creativity‚
(C4C) pretends to represent artists, musicians, designers,
engineers and software developers. The texts on the C4C
website give the impression that the authors are part of the
creative sectors (www.campaignforcreativity.org). In reality,
however, C4C is orchestrated by Campbell Gentry, a
London-based public affairs firm
(www.campbellgentry.com). C4C is de facto run by Simon
Gentry, a public affairs consultant who in the past also
lobbied for biotech patents on behalf of SmithKline
Beecham. The English language website vaguely mentions
that the campaign is „supported by‰ corporations including
software multinationals Microsoft and SAP, and industry
association CompTIA. Simon Gentry, however, refuses to
disclose how C4C is actually financed. Gentry claims that
C4C has some hundred individual supporters, but these do
not contribute financially. The companies, Gentry told
LobbyControl, contribute to specific actions of the
campaign, not on a fixed scheme. Gentry dismissed our
questions about finances as „meaningless‰, arguing that
the campaign also benefits from resources provided (e.g.
providing access to rooms or help from a patent lawyer),
not only money. The burning question, who the Campaign
for Creativity really represents, remains unanswered.

"The campaign not only misleads decision-makers, but also
potential supporters visiting the website", explains Ulrich
Mueller. There is no reference anywhere to the fact that
C4C co-ordinator Simon Gentry is part of the public affairs
firm Campbell Gentry. The German and French language
versions of the site do not even mention the support of
companies and industry association CompTIA for C4C.

In recent speeches on the European Transparency
Initiative, Commissioner Kallas has suggested that
voluntary transparency around lobbying may be sufficient.
Lobby Control and CEO, on the other hand, argue that the
ŒCampaign for Creativity‚ and other examples of public
affairs firms establishing bogus NGOs and coalitions on
behalf of industry clients prove the urgent need for
mandatory lobbying disclosure and ethics rules. „Exactly
these deceptive forms of lobbying benefit from the
continued absence of transparency and ethics obligations.
Such obligations must therefore be part of the European
Transparency Initiative‰, says Erik Wesselius of Corporate
Europe Observatory (CEO).

For more information, contact:

- Erik Wesselius, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), tel
+31-30- 2364422 / +31 20 6127023,
<ceo at corporateeurope.org>
- Ulrich Mueller, LobbyControl: tel +49-221-8018343,
<u.mueller at lobbycontrol.de>

The letter to Commissioner Kallas is online at

For more background information about Campaign for
Creativity‚ and the lobbying around the proposed directive
on computer-implemented inventions, see:
http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbycracy/C4Cbackground.html  and


1: LobbyControl is a new German civil society initiative that provides
information on lobbying, PR campaigns and think tanks and promotes
transparency and democracy. www.lobbycontrol.de/blog Corporate
Europe Observatory (CEO) is an Amsterdam- based research and
campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social
justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power
of corporations and their lobby groups.

http://www.corporateeurope.org/ Lobby Control and CEO are
concerned about the lack of transparency and the use of unethical
tactics in lobbying towards the EU institutions. The two organizations
are themselves not engaged in the lobbying battle around the CII

2: The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation
(ALTER-EU) is a coalition of civil society groups calling upon the
European Commission to introduce mandatory disclosure rules that
would allow effective democratic scrutiny of the role of lobbyists in EU
policy-making. http://www.corporateeurope.org/alter-eu.html

3: The European Transparency Initiative, launched by European
Commissioner Kallas early March this year, aims to strengthen
transparency around lobbying towards the EU institutions. The
Commission has now established an intersectoral working group to
prepare a Green Paper, to be published coming autumn.

4: Burson-Marsteller has over the last 12 months at three occasions
been forced to step up transparency after critique emerged over its role
in establishing and de facto running „the Coalition to Prevent Deep-
Vein Thrombosis" (on behalf of Aventis), „European Women for HPV
Testing (on behalf of Digene Corporation) and the „Bromine Science
and Environmental Forum (on behalf of major producers of bromine
flame retardants). In all these cases, the involvement of the companies
ˆ let alone Burson Marsteller ˆ was initially hidden or kept vague.

Daniel Guéguen, Brussels lobby veteran, has recently predicted that
controversial tactics will become more and more widespread in EU
lobbying in the near future. In an interview with the EurActiv news-
service Guéguen explained: "Because the stakes are higher, because
Brussels is the number one centre of power in Europe, because
Brussels will become the permanent theatre of heavy industrial
warfare." "In the future we will tend to adopt ever tougher lobbying
strategies and ever more sophisticated approaches to economic
intelligence that will probably involve practices such as manipulation,
destabilisation or disinformation." See:

Corporate Europe Observatory
De Wittenstraat 25
1052 AK Amsterdam
tel/fax: +31-20-612-7023
e-mail: <ceo at corporateeurope.org>

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