[Fsfe-ie] Met MEP Mairead McGuinness

Ciaran O'Riordan ciaran at member.fsf.org
Thu Mar 31 15:13:57 CEST 2005

Thanks to Barry O'Donovan for getting McGuinness interested in meeting us.

I met her yesterday morning.  On this directive, her only meetings were two
previous meetings with pro-patent types.  She told me she didn't want to
take a position until she'd heard all the sides.

Being a new MEP, she didn't have the benefit of the 2003 lobbying, so we
discussed the basics as well as the current situation.  I think by the end
she was seeing the sense in our side (or the nonsense in our opponents

She found it difficult to understand the current situation whereby software
patents are not valid but 30,000 have been granted.  I did my best to
explain that they were speculative patents, 75% owned by the USA and Japan.

She had some doubt about the position of the anti-swpat campaign's position
after discussions with Brian Crowley.  This doubt wasn't about whether we
were right or wrong, but about whether we were misguided about the severity
of the current situation (Crowley was pro-B-item, saying that the directive
can be fixed in the second reading), and about the badness of the Council's
text (Crowley said that 50% of the first reading amendments were kept, so
our position wasn't discarded).

 (Since Crowley is (a substitute) on the JURI committee, he may be seen as
  an expert on this directive, so he may be having an unexpected influence
  on the other MEPs.  I'll have to try to meet him again.)

She didn't like the issue being painted as big business Vs. small, but
without using those words, I told her that the situation is just like that.

I left with her a copy of three of our letters, but it struck me that really
we should have a comprehensive positional paper on the directive.  I will
make a skeleton draft this evening and will circulate it.

She mentioned that she'd heard TRIPS requires software patents.  Here's the
follow up mail I sent her (I've trimmed the "thanks for the meeting", here's
our contact details, etc bits)

> One quick follow up point I'd like to make is about TRIPS.  Article 10 says:
>   "Computer programs, whether in source or object code, shall be protected
>    as literary works under the Berne Convention."
> As literary works, not as a field of technology - therefore not covered by
> Article 27 which says:
>   "patents shall be available for any inventions in all field of technology,
>    provided they are capable [...] of industrial application"
> Article 10 could even be interpreted as saying that allowing software
> patents would actually violate TRIPS - because patents deny authors of the
> copyrights granted to them by the Berne Convention (my copyrights are
> useless if someone else makes a patent claim to my work).  But we don't have
> to go that far to see that it is false to claim that TRIPS requires software
> patents.

Ciarán O'Riordan,
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