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EU Patents Won't Stay Dead

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the like-legislative-zombies dept.

Patents 410

sconeu writes "Apparently the EC is ignoring the restart directive, and has placed software patents as an A-Item on the Council of Minister's agenda with an aim for approval on Monday." From the article: "The directive is pitched as offering greater protection for software developers. Opponents, including many in the European parliament, fear it will simply provide big players, including America's powerful and litigious software giants, with a very large stick to batter upstart developers and the Open Source movement." Update: 03/04 22:04 GMT by Z : And just as quick as you please Denmark stops things in their tracks. Denmark's objection means that there will have to be further debate before the patents get the stamp.

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US influence peddling goes world-wide (5, Interesting)

Harodotus (680139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845829)

Is it just me or does it sound like Microsoft and other litigious American software giants has bought the influence of this European commission? I can only hope that the many countries involved will stand up and fight to at least hold debate on a matter that might ruin most small and mid sized European software companies.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845899)

Nope. Time to stop blaming the US for everything that goes wrong in your world. You guys need to start taking reponsibility for your representatives' actions. I am sick and tired of Europeans blaming the US for every damn thing. Grow up.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (4, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845929)

Blaming the US my ass, it is the corporations that are being blamed. They bought the politicians here in the US and now they are buying them everywhere.

Patriotism has no substance and is always pure rhetoric and therefore invalid, move beyond it.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845998)

Nope sorry. Has nothing to do with patriotism. Its your representatives. If they are willing to get bought out by corporations that is your problem. It is not the fault of the US or its corporations.

I suspect the real issue is not that the EU reps have been "bought" by the big bad corporations, but that they realize that software patents have a real positive use in the industry. Of course the groupthink here won't allow me to expound on that, so I won't bother.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (5, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846152)

Its your representatives. If they are willing to get bought out by corporations that is your problem.

Yeah, a shame that these so called "representatives" aren't even elected, so they don't even answer to the citizens of the countries they "represent". Don't you find it odd that the elected portion of the EU repeatedly turned down software patents while these "representatives" are going full steam ahead?

the groupthink here won't allow me to expound on that, so I won't bother.

To counter groupthink, you'd have to first think, but most of the people who blindly defend software patents fail to do that.

What do you think will happen if this EU directive passes, and countries that previously did not accept software patents are forced to accept patents from those countries that do? You ARE aware that software patents are allowed in some countries, and that the EU is acting in its capacity to "smooth out" legal differences to facilitate trade right? Just wanted to make sure you're not spouting off bullshit about things you have no clue about. So what happens when your 5-year-old product meets the 2-year-old patent that suddenly materializes from another country where they didn't care about your software as prior art?

Before you bitch and whine about groupthink, note that this post has nothing to do with goodness or badness of patents, or abuse of the patent system or anything, it simply points out that the change in patent law will allow companies in countries with patents to wake up one day and crush everyone else.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846046)

Blaming the US my ass, it is the corporations that are being blamed.

Is that why the title reads US influence peddling goes world-wide? If I were to say European ass-kissing goes world-wide, would it sound like I was blaming Europe, or just the politicians who accepted bribes?

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846079)

> Patriotism has no substance and is always pure rhetoric and therefore invalid, move beyond it.

I know the word has probably been sullied beyond repair, but true patriots simply have a love for the values of a community that's quite large, and not only doesn't preclude harsh criticism of the nation when it does wrong, it requires it. Possibly it's misguided, assuming a nation can ever really be a community, but in some instances, it's warranted.

I think the word you're looking for is jingoism

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846115)

Well the main purpose of the US (government) has always been to help its corporations and to push them worldwide as far as possible, by force of arms if need be if that's what it takes to secure markets or raw materials.

So the thread title isn't that far off. Even though the US people don't think of corporations first when they see "US", the rest of the world pretty much does (that or the wrong end of an M16).

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (5, Informative)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846025)

Actually, the first draft of the proposed patent lay was found to have been written by the Business Software Alliance (see here [zdnet.co.uk]

If you look at the BSA web page [bsa.org] , you will see that the members of this alliance are primarily US businesses: they list Microsoft, IBM, Intel etc etc as their members.

So in this case the original poster is correct: this law seems to have been "bought" by US businesses.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846072)

So what? Its not the US businesses voting on the law. Its your supposed representatives. They are the ones to blame. Its your problem. You are big boys and girls. Take care of it. The BSA thinks software patents are a good idea. I am sure the EU mega corporations think its a good idea too. They are giving their input into the process. You think its bad? Then give your input into the process. You can't do that because these representatives aren't really accountable to the people? Then you guys have bigger problems then software patents.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845961)

We've been standing up and fighting for months, but the way the EU is set up it's very hard to do anything about it.

In particular, the measure has been repeatedly voted against by the European Parliament, which is comprised of elected representatives from every region of every European country. It has been voted against by the Council of Ministers, which is comprised of important members of the Government of each member state. But with the bizzare way in which the EU works, the wishes of both the people and of the member governments can be overridden by unelected beaurocrats, some of whom were appointed years ago by politicians who are no longer in power.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (4, Insightful)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846035)

While technically correct, it's misleading to say that the Council of Ministers have voted against it. It implies that they don't want the legislation pushed through, whereas in reality they do.

Decisions made by the Council must be unanimous. The Software Patents directive has been placed on the agenda as an A-list item (one that is passed without discussion unless a council member vetos it). Previously it has been prevented from passing by Poland, twice, and Denmark, once (I think).

It is the Council that will pass the Software Patents directive on Monday, unless another Council member vetos it: stage 5 of the flowchart at http://europa.eu.int/comm/codecision/stepbystep/di agram_en.htm [eu.int] .

The flowchart says "approves all the EP's ammendments" but (I believe that) the Parliament didn't make any modifications to the directive at the time of the first reading, because it predates any of our lobbying to make them aware of how bad the directive will be for the European software industry.

Re:US influence peddling goes world-wide (4, Insightful)

ChaosCube (862389) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846058)

That's what went through my head when I read the headline. If something like this just refuses to die, something else is behind it. You can really tell because this is happening so fast. If there was an issue that was not influenced by big money, and it was subject to debate between sides, we wouldn't hear it go back and forth so often. With this, the tide goes back and forth every other day. Politics don't move that fast unless there's a lot of money or power involved.

Here they are... (4, Informative)

ooze (307871) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846132)

The members of the commission. [eu.int]

Since telling it nicely doesn't work, and telling it with lots of money is out of the question, we should find other ways to uhm...convince them. The first step is to peel them out of this anonymus term "European Commission", so they can't hide in it.

Too easy (-1, Offtopic)

Ligur (453963) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845830)

getting a FP with this bug throwing people off.

We have a bigger problem (-1, Redundant)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845831)

"...with a very large stick to batter upstart developers and the Open Source movement."

So we're raping raping opensource developers now??

Re:We have a bigger problem (2, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845885)

batter (verb):
1. To hit heavily and repeatedly with violent blows.
2. To subject to repeated beatings or physical abuse.
3. To damage, as by heavy wear.

You're not as clever as you think you are.

Re:We have a bigger problem (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845914)

So what is your definition of rape?

Stay !!! Dead dog !!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845833)

Sorry :) (fp)

Re:Stay !!! Dead dog !!! (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845920)

BTW, in my original submission, I had compared the EU Patent Directive to Freddy and Jason.

Also commented on the fact that at least the EC is a bunch of honest politicians -- once they're bought, they stay bought.

Cue astroturfers... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845836)

Hi, you are destroying European democracy and assisting in the creation of a totalitarian future for your children. Hope they're paying you well!

If it is going back to parliment anyway... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845837)

... for a second reading, can't they kill the measure then even if the Ministers approve it?

Re:If it is going back to parliment anyway... (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845913)

I suspect it's a matter of who has greater willpower, very much like the periodic brawls in the US between the White House and Congress. The Parliament can (and should) reject it, and keep rejecting it every time the EC kicks it back to them, but will they have the political will to do so? Cf. "Social Security" and "judicial appointments."

Re:If it is going back to parliment anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846130)

I suspect it's a matter of who has greater willpower, very much like the periodic brawls in the US between the White House and Congress. The Parliament can (and should) reject it, and keep rejecting it every time the EC kicks it back to them, but will they have the political will to do so? Cf. "Social Security" and "judicial appointments."

But if their request that the process be restarted is being continually ignored, they should have every right and the political will to reject the meausre (or better yet table it) until the EC listens.

Re:If it is going back to parliment anyway... (2)

GQuon (643387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846139)

I think it's more a matter of the Parliament needing an absolute majority to strike it down once the Council has passed it.

Creativity stifling... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845856)

I just can't imagine a world of software where the guy that thinks up an idea has sole possession of said idea, there won't be any room for improvement or growth of software.

At least in Europe ;-) I don't think India is part of the EU...yet.

Re:Creativity stifling... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845881)

> At least in Europe ;-) I don't think India is part of the EU...yet.

No but India now has software patents thanks to WIPO/US presure.

Well (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845869)

There is nothing wrong with patents per se, but rather the *reasons* why they are being called for.

The European computer patent measure seems to be aimed at stifling competition rather than encourage innovation - that is why it's not a good idea.

Unfortunate, the US patent system has the idea right but it's been misused into oblivion (with wonderful contributions from those granting patents, too) - but it was never created for the reasons that the European Computer Implemented Inventions Directive is being created for.

Damn unfortunate.

Re:Well (4, Insightful)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845900)

If you want people to innovate, then pay them to do so.

You don't need to give people the power to stop OTHER people from innovating in order to encourage THEM to innovate.

Re:Well (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845982)

Well, it's not enough if you just paid people now, is it? :-)

The idea behind patents is -

Help you capitalize on your idea

Give you a lead over others so that you are the only one who can legally use it for a while

Put the idea for all others to see and extend on

The idea is not to STOP others, but give you a lead over others since you invented it in the first place. Remember, that is not a bad idea in itself because if you are a 16 year old kid in a basement who comes up with your own idea, it can genuinely protect you. On the other hand, it is being misused by folks to patent obvious things and STOP others.

Blame the patent office for granting those patents, but not the idea behind patents in general.

Software is not patentable in Europe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846156)

Article 52 of the EPC excludes programs for computers from patentability and the patent establishment has had to fabricate some very dubious and contrived arguments to get the directive this far and justify over 30,000 illegal patents issued by the EPO.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846155)

You don't need to give people the power to stop OTHER people from innovating in order to encourage THEM to innovate.

Copying sopeone else's idea is not innovation. Stopping people from copying your ideas and forcing them to come up with something else (possibly better...) IS innovation. That's what pattents are encouraging...

Copying someone's idea is not innovation, it's being lazy. The "software pattents suck" argument is weak at best when people should quit crying about wanting to use other people's ideas for their own personal gain.

I know... this is slashdot so I'll probably be modded flaimbait before I can even reload the page...

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845918)

There is nothing wrong with patents per se

There is with software or business method patents!

Re:Well (1, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845947)

No, there is not.

If you are a lone programmer (or a small independent group) who comes up with something that you need to make money out of, patents genuinely help you.

Just as how if you are a lone inventor who comes up with something new and innovative.

You see, the spirit behind patents is to give you complete control of your idea, while at the same time letting others know of your idea so that they can further it independently, but you have complete control over *your* idea for a while and a time-frame during which you can capitalize on that innovation.

However, corporations have skewed that whole thing completely - that does not mean the spirit of software patents is wrong. Folks are misusing it, the idea is still to give you a legal way of capitalizing on your idea.

Re:Well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846011)

> If you are a lone programmer (or a small independent group) who comes up with
> something that you need to make money out of, patents genuinely help you.

Copyright helps me, having to do a patent search for every 15 lines of code helps nobody!

> that does not mean the spirit of software patents is wrong.

The spirit of software patents? Some things were excluded from patent protection for a good reason, math, literature and computer software included!

Re:Well (1, Informative)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846109)

Copyright helps me, having to do a patent search for every 15 lines of code helps nobody!

What the hell are you talking about?

Copyright is for the protection of the expression, patent is for the idea behind the expression.

And those 15 line patents are exactly what I was talking about when I meant misuse of patents.

For instance, my advisor has a patent on 3D compression using what is called a Topological Surgery approach, which provided the foundation of the current MPEG-4 standard for 3D compression. It's a method for achieving a goal, and am fairly certain that he's one of the VERY few people who could have come up with something like that.

That's an idea behind achieving an expression, and he rightfully holds the patent to it.

The spirit of software patents? Some things were excluded from patent protection for a good reason, math, literature and computer software included!

BZZT! A lot of stuff that folks come up with involves a lot of time and effort. Remember that for patents you need to have a valid UTILITY value. They most certainly would let you patent a mathematical method IF you can provide a utility value. Same for the idea behind a software.

It is for the same reason that you cannot patent a literary work but copyright the same. Am sure if you came up with a literary idea that has utility value, you'd be granted a patent for it.

I think you're confusing patents and copyrights.

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846069)

So you're a lone programmer and you have one good idea. You patent it, and then write a program that uses it. Fine.

But when you try to sell that program, along comes a big business that says "we want to buy your one idea for a small sum of money - oh, and by the way your program contravenes 73 of our patents on trivial obvious programming ideas. So either you take our offer, or else we sue you into oblivion".

Re:Well (2, Insightful)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846080)

> If you are a lone programmer (or a small independent group) who comes up with
> something that you need to make money out of, patents genuinely help you.

Nope. In practice, if I patent some software, and then Microsoft rips me off. I have the following options:

a) Sue Microsoft, and run out of money
b) Sue Microsoft, and be sued in return for voilating thousands of their trivial patents

Great choice!

The spirit of software patents IS wrong. You can not patent mathematics.

Furthermore, you can not say that the spirit of patents in general is a good idea. In every field where you want to implement patents, you must investigate, independantly, whether they do more harm than good.

Re:Well (1)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846147)

Except that ideas expressed in software are hard to define (and pure maths isn't patentable).

So we have companies with dubious motives producing ill expressed patents approved by unqualified bodies governed by iniquitous targets.

Re:Well (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846163)

>and pure maths isn't patentable

Because it does not have a utility. If you came up with something unique and mathematical with no prior art and with a utility value, you'd be allowed to patent it.

documentation pro patents? (2, Interesting)

EsbenMoseHansen (731150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846031)

Has there ever been some study or likewise that support patents, in the sense that they show an increase in innovation in areas that are patent regulated?

I don't understand (5, Interesting)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845876)

Why do Europeans allow a non-elected commission to determine economic policy? It makes no sense to me that a state would agree to hand out such important matters that, in my mind anyhow, require representation to do. Personally, I don't give crap about software patents, I'm more amazed the EU is run like this.

Re:I don't understand (3, Informative)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845909)

Because their governments refused to give the EU Parliament real power, instead sending commissioners to make up a cabal.

Re:I don't understand (1, Interesting)

slipnslidemaster (516759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845931)



Ultimately the same mindset that is representative of their heritage.

How many EU countries still have monarchs? How many more EU countries right up until approximately 200 years ago had autocratic monarchies? They have been bred for 1000 years to let other people tell them what is good for them or not. It's going to take a while for the "people" to adjust their culture.

Re:I don't understand (3, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846076)

Coming from Sweden with a monarchy, I can just add that our monarchs are simply PR devices. They know that too, and don't try to be something else either. If they do (it has happened they've let some political opinion slip) they usually catch a lot of flak for it. They have nothing to say about how our contry is run as well (that's indeed left to our government), and when they open their mouths it's often in times of disasters like the recent Thailand tsunami, to "comfort" us.

The only problem I have with them is basically that they cost money. I'm sure we could switch to becoming a republic and save a bit of money that way, and not have monarchs represent our country on e.g. visiting Africa to show our stance about poor children, smashing a bottle to introduce a ship, eating some food at a Nobel dinner or whatever. Seems a bit like a waste to me.

Re:I don't understand (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846157)

Isn't that what monarchs do in all of the "western" world ?

One could argue that they enable the tabloid press to thrive, thus putting a little money back into the economy. Besides dumbing down de peons has to be a good thing in a globalized environment. Dumb people buy what they're told to.

Re:I don't understand (5, Informative)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845951)

Why do Europeans allow a non-elected commission to determine economic policy?

The Euuropean union is a young and a very fastmoving project. I believe very few europeans know what the parlament actully do and what the commission do. I'm a swede and very seldom we get to vote, there is close to zero follow-up on the people we vote on in the media and frankly we don't know what they do. I don't think democracy is one of the strengths of the EU right now. Maybe in the future.

Re:I don't understand (1, Insightful)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846103)

Everyone likes being a bitch. The vast majority of Europeans don't know: they think that they still have power over the laws that get handed down to them; and the majority of Americans don't seem to care.

Bring on the civil war! (0, Troll)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845882)

I'm wondering how long until there's a civil war in the EU from people who get sick of their new federalism.

Re:Bring on the civil war! (1)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845924)

The democratic deficit is the problem, not statism vs. federalism.

Re:Bring on the civil war! (1)

torpor (458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846014)

yeah, thats one thing you can say about america, they sure do reserve the right to continue to kill each other, somehow or another, without actually calling it 'civil war', tho' it may be ..

Re:Bring on the civil war! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846098)

It doesn't require a civil war, fella. Any EU member can secede, it's right in the charter.

Ask yourself two things (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845898)

Who will earn the most money from this?

Who has enough money to be able to spend it to get this through because Linux is starting to gain popularity?

I won't answer either but we all know the answer.

Well, no shit. (1)

Caspian (99221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845903)

The people pushing for software patents have very, very, very deep pockets. As in billions of dollars. It is also in their financial best interests (and remember that publically traded corporations are obligated to maximize return on investment for their investors; whether they are ethical or not in the process is not part of the equation) to obtain strict protection for their ridiculous software patents.

Therefore, they will very patiently keep plugging away until either (A) they get their way, or (B) something drastic happens (like tossing those who push for the patents in jail, or amending the EU Constitution to ban software patents). I'm putting my money on (A).

Re:Well, no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845959)

It is also in their financial best interests (and remember that publically traded corporations are obligated to maximize return on investment for their investors; whether they are ethical or not in the process is not part of the equation) to obtain strict protection for their ridiculous software patents.

Spitting in the face of an entire continents democratic process isn't maximising return on investment. Companies can only be expected to function within the existing legal framework, there's no justification for what these companies are doing.

Re:Well, no shit. (1)

Caspian (99221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846048)

There's a justification; it's just not a good justification. The justification is that it promotes the wealth of already very wealthy companies. That's a one-sided justification, and one that only benefits the Microsofts, Sonys and IBMs of the world at the expense of everybody else-- but it's a justification nonetheless. (Mind you, it's one that I disagree with...)

Re:Well, no shit. (2, Interesting)

snwcrash (520762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845991)

That's a little extreme. Corporations are not obligated to commit ethical violations just because it might net them more money. Most shareholders would probably not put up with unethical behaviour just for increased value of the stock.

The people pushing patents believe in their black, black hearts that this is ethical. That Intellectual Property is just that. I've been in a patent discussion with our lawyers and it's amazing that they actually believe the IP argument. They just don't understand how software works, they like thinking of it as a CD or a web page, since those are concepts that they understand.

Re:Well, no shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846122)

I vote for B. They're selling out their countries to foreign interests. Sounds like a traitor to me.

Re:Well, no shit. (2, Interesting)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846165)

Don't dress up greed as a moral obligation. It's not in theory or in practice. Corporate officers have very little to fear from not meeting their clear and well defined obligations (Andrew Fastow is serving how much time for losing how many thousands of people their retirement?), much less the fiduciary responsibility requirements.

The requirements of fiduciary responsibility are usually negative, not positive. You can't do something that's clearly BAD for the company (remember the flap about the network whose manaagement wanted to run an anti-Kerry show? He backed down because it was clearly not in the best fiduciary interest of the company.) However, as for taking a particular positive action (should we develop X or Y? Should we lobby the EU for software patents?), there is no consequence as a breach of "fiduciary responsibility" for taking one action or another. You might get fired for incompetence, but not sued.

Clearly greed is a human motivation, and serves a purpose - medieval scholars wrote "Blessed is the inclination to evil, without which a man would not plant a vineyard, take a wife, or establish a house." But we all know it can be destructive to society as a whole when applied on a huge scale.

Fiduciary responsibility does not, in a practical sense, mandate immoral behavior. Dressing it up as some sort of moral obligation is the worst sort of cynicism. It's a call to inaction - "These huge powerful companies HAVE to act this way - no sense in trying to make it turn out any differently." What a bleak world that would be to live in.

Protects small developers? (5, Insightful)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845907)

Sure, software patents protect small developers. That's why Carmack's Reverse is patented by 3DLabs (who John Carmack doesn't work for, and received royalties from Doom 3 sales), one-click ordering is patented by one of the online auction giants, and is why we're seeing elements of standard computing operations being patented on a weekly basis.

How does the patenting of the components and standard processes of computing protect the small developers if the small developers are no longer allowed to freely develop?

Re:Protects small developers? (1)

Ninjy (828167) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846102)

The problem is that most of us, time and time again, keep trying to answer this question. And in the end, we all figure that patents are a hell for any non-major player of non-commercial entity. The problem is that the European Commision and several other entities related to it either don't get asked this same question, or they have a bigger beast breathing down their neck, bigger than a mob of angered free software developers and small entities.

Sounds like the Msft technique (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845926)

When the law is on your side, fine. When it's not, go ahead and do what you want anyway. What are they going to do, breakup your company? Hahahah!

This is an outrage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845927)

Who cares for the law. The answer is to _still_ develop software against these malicious patents. If everybody writes OSS even when these patents are in effect, they can't stop anybody. In the EU or elsewhere. This outrage will not be tolerated by the real people who control(the citizens).

Denmark and Poland Will Deal the Death Blow (5, Informative)

TerminalSpin (766133) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845933)

Apparently, the Danes have stepped up to kill this one! http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic. php?t=428 [nosoftwarepatents.com]

Obligatory Shakespeare reference (2, Funny)

SmokeHalo (783772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846049)

They're eager to show that nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark. :)

Re:Denmark and Poland Will Deal the Death Blow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846112)

Your link is quite irrelevant since it's dated as belonging to last year.

EU Questions... (3, Interesting)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845935)

I'm not up on my EU procedures. Assuming it is approved by the ministers, does it still need Parliamentary approval? If so, and assuming it receives such, is there some type of court to which an appeal can be brought? Does the EU have any type of Judicial redress?

Re:EU Questions... (2, Informative)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845984)

Well, if it would be approved, it still would have to return to the EU parliament, due to their request to restart / renegotiate.
However, since they require a absolute majority to implement changes to it would be much harder to stop it.
Should it manage to get through, the best bet would be for the parliament to reject it in full, however, this would also require an absolute majority.

Actually, they are as good as dead (5, Interesting)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845938)

According to this article [heise.de] in the German IT magazine Heise.de (use the fish [altavista.com] ), the danish parliament has giving their minister for economy, Bendt Bendtsen, binding orders to request a complete restart of the whole negotiations.
The parliament of the Netherlands have giving their representative orders to support any demands for new negotiations.
Finally, the German representative would face sever pressure (he'd probably have to resign) should he ignore the German parliants demands for new negotiations.
As for many of the "new" EU members, they will probably not support a decision that might severly restrict their fledgeling IT economy - no matter how much Microsoft and the other "big players" try to lobby.
So, all in all, its as good as dead - at least for now.

Re:Actually, they are as good as dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846030)

the new members are the ones that kiss the arse of the us, and so are likely to do what is in the best interest of us companies.

IF this happens, what next ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846124)

...is it possible to find the people who pushed hardest for the draconian version and begin publishing criticisms of them, to push them out of power ?

remember this is only an example of their undemocratic mindset. removing the people who are influenced by what are essentially bribes from the USA will help prevent same/similar from occuring in the coming few years.

it is essential to record the names of the people under the influence of the US corps. and hold their feet to the fire/defang them in the coming months..whatever happens monday.

Re:Actually, they are as good as dead (2, Informative)

toff (142159) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846142)

You're completely right. Here is a link in english: http://wiki.ffii.org/Dkparl050304En

Patent Consortium (1)

rokali (785706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845958)

Couldn't IBM, Novell and other organizations with lots of patents leverage these portfolios to combat the Microsoft way? If IBM would start a patent consortium around the patents they've opened up to the open source community, and a small company was part of that consortium, when the small company got sued by Microsoft IBM (and IBM's patents) would be there to help.

Hmm... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11845960)

I don't get it.

When you look at www.ffii.org, you'll see all kinds of news like "[2005-03-04] FFII: Danish Parliament obliges Minister to renegotiate software patents in Council", "[2005-03-04] Polish Informatisation minister: we cannot fight alone", "[2005-03-03] FFII: JURI schedules software patents discussion on Monday", etc, etc.

http://www.ffii.org/

I expect it to be rejected actually.

The danes blocked it again... (5, Informative)

SlashDread (38969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845972)

Today, the danish comission of European affairs ORDERED their governement to not treat the new software patent directive as a "done deal".
The Dutch governement had earlier said it was hoping on a redraft opf the bill, but would not block the vote, something the German Governement had also done.
In the meantime the Dutch VVD also brought in a motion to try to get an amendment to bring "community patents into the bill, which then would have to be completely redrafted.

Source: www.webwereld.nl

I dont know about you folks, but I'm thinking: "It ain't over 'till the Fat Lady sings"
And I somewhat like the idea of a commons of patents.

Re:The danes blocked it again... (1)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846009)

Actually, the Dutch have ordered their representative to support any country that wishes to restart the whole negotiations.
Since the Danes already stepped forward for that one, and the Dutch support it, they have to vote on it.
And I guess it won't get a majority with the new EU members now present (they know it would kill of their feldgeling IT economy)

This is how it always goes... (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845973)

Anytime you put a bad law or tax or whatever up for a vote.

It gets voted down. So the powers that be hold another vote. Repeat until the TPTB gets what it wants. No rule in place to keep you from asking over and over, like a nagging kid wanting candy.

Same thing in my home town over a property tax for schools. Put it up for a vote, and it's a no. Do it again. And again. And finally it goes through. And the school board starts doing backflips. Whee! A mandate from the masses!

Any truly fair system would hold a single vote, on a single topic - and then no more. Not forever, but for say...at least 7 years or so.

Take the high ground immediately. (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845977)

If the EU Parliament can make a stink about this autocratic move by the EU Council, and stop the power grab, it will be a larger victory for European democracy. This kind of abuse will happen all the time in Europe, making a sham of democracy as corporations and other interests make end runs around a subordinate democratic government. But if they can drive a stake through its heart now, democracy can rule a functionary state body instead. Europe has had centuries of warmup for a continental democracy experiment, including staging a mixed bag of results across the Atlantic. Now, as it is formally getting underway at home, is the time to ensure the balances are correct.

Sack the EU Commission? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846101)

The BBC have an article on how the EU works. Apparently the parliament can sack the commission if they want to. Now that would be interesting.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/europe/04/ eu _institutions/html/eu_parliament.stm

Well for now ... (1)

elfuq (89094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846113)

at least until the new European constitution is ratified (if it is) the EU pariament has somewhat limited powers. While technically they can veto a decision by the Council of Ministers with an absolute majority vote, that does only apply to some areas of EU law, and the council is far stronger politically.

http://www.derossa.com/asp/guideEPworks.asp

To which extent? (1)

eihab (823648) | more than 9 years ago | (#11845980)

I'm all for protecting investments in software and ground breaking technology, but to which extent will Europe allow software developers to patent their ideas?

Will they allow obvious use of technology to be patented or will they be more restrictive than the US?

I think only time will tell...

Re:To which extent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846088)

To the extent that every program infringes thousands of patents and only a select few multinationals are able to exert total control over the software market. Didn't you get the memo?

Update: Denmark will stop it! (4, Informative)

henni16 (586412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846000)

As heise reports [heise.de] , the Danish parliament has bindingly instructed their secretary of commerce to vote AGAINST software patents,
so the law can't be nodded through.
According to their parliaments some other ministers are instructed (more or less bindingly) to support another country's approach to restart the whole process:
Poland, Netherlands, Spain (had already voted against it in the last session), maybe Germany (but represented by some stubbor a..hat, so..)
Also it is likely that some countries that were neutral during the last voting (like Austria, Belgium, Italy) will support a complete restart.

Re:Update: Denmark will stop it! (1)

CharonX (522492) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846052)

Don't forget the new EU members, they will want a restart.
As for Germany - if our representative screws around again (the parliament has voted that Germany shouldn't support this directive) he'll probably have to step down.
He already has taken some severe beatings since the German economy aint doing that good, but should he choose to go against the decision of the parliament it will be a feast for the Opposition.

This must be stopped (1)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846015)

This directive must be stopped at all costs. It still has to go through the European parliment and so really needs as many people as possible to write to their MEP's to stop this.

The consequences are frightening. It would be a serious blow for European software developers.

My mail to the EC (2, Interesting)

theolein (316044) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846021)

I live in Switzerland, which is not part of the EU, thank God, and given the EC blatant disregard for the EU parlimentary request to restart the process of software patents, I will make very sure, by the democratic means of public initiative, aka privately initiated referendums, which we have in Switzerland, that Switzerland will never join that bastion of corruption.

I do not want my country ruled by a cabal of easily bought unelected scum in Brussels, and, given the way things are going, I think there are many current EU members, such as the UK and Denmark that are wondering how they can get out of it as fast as possible.

Re:My mail to the EC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846138)

> I do not want my country ruled by a cabal of easily bought unelected scum in Brussels

Well, my country is ruled by a cabal of rigid inflexible unelected ideologues who run things lergely in lieu of our easily bought elected scum in washington who look the other way because challenging them would be too inconvenient to their careers.

I understand Switzerland also has a pretty decentralized government itself. Good on you.

Re:My mail to the EC (1)

anonicon (215837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846141)

"I do not want my country ruled by a cabal of easily bought unelected scum in Brussels, and, given the way things are going, I think there are many current EU members, such as the UK and Denmark that are wondering how they can get out of it as fast as possible."

Heh, now you know how we feel about our "Representatives" in Washington D.C. :-)

Some possible good news (3, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846023)

If you look here: http://ffii.org/ [ffii.org] there's some possibly better news.

Political disinterest (4, Insightful)

sploxx (622853) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846036)

IMHO, this is the effect the general political disinterest the population has here in the EU. It may be stronger than in the US, but it' still declining.

And it is now SO LOW that corruption rises steeply. This is corruption, isn't it? Not calling it corruption would euphemise it.

Maybe, people still care a bit about what the media say. The media don't say anything about 'smaller political issues', only the important ones.

But the media also decide what "important issues" are. For example they redefine that corruption is about privately using frequent-flyer-miles (not ok, of course, but corruption?), about contacts of politicians into red-light districts (wtf?!)
They let politicians talk about "high-tech", "information economy" etc.pp. But if important laws are proposed in this area, they do not notice or they do not want to notice.

If the Minister for Economic Affairs overrides decisions of the cartel office for apparently no good reason (as it happened here in germany), it's pictured as "saving the economy". Arrrrrrgh!

If they push this through, "we" should not stop trying to prevent software patents. We should lobby for the abolition of software patents then. But this will be hard.

Sometimes, I have the vision for 2020-2030 of some grey-haired FLOSS developers drinking tea together and being nostalgic about the wild times where software development wasn't illegal and fundamental rights were still respected.

But I can not, in any way, accept such a development.

Are software patents that evil ? (1)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846047)

I used to think so, but now I'm not so convinced of that. I think the main problem for software patents is the time they last. 18 years, right ? You know, 2005 - 18 = 1987. Wow ! In 1987 Windows was 2.0. In computer world 18 years is an eternity.

What would you think of a patent lasting one year ? Don't you think it could stimulate innovation ? And the evil effect of a patent would be reduced ?

This whole EU patent thing.. (1)

doormat (63648) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846064)

is like a bad zombie movie, it just keeps coming back from the dead. Why wont you die already!

Somehow this reminds me of..... (3, Insightful)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846075)

The French revolution. Those in power repeatedly ignore the cries of the people and defile common sense with their governmental decisions. The rich live their lives in naive luxury while those outside their homes are starving. Finally the straw that breaks the camel's back will fall, and the people will rise to usurp their so-called "leaders". Chaos will soon follow, and the rage, blood, and death will spread across the countryside like wild-fire...

Anything and everything just seems to be getting more and more messed up in the world of politics today. My only question is what will be the 21st century equivalent of the guillotine? Laser guns? Oh please, please let it be laser guns!!! =D

Which software developers support patents? (1)

NatteringNabob (829042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846078)

I guess there are a few, like James Gosling, but primarily it is software publishers, not developers that are thourhgly enamored with software patents, and one software publisher in particular that is a convicted abusive monopolist. Slightly off topic, but many readers may not know that RMS' conviction on the evil's of software patents was triggered by a spat with Gosling over some display update code. I don't remeber the exact details, but both Gosling and RMS had developed versions of emacs. Gosling's version had a display update routine that RMS like so he copied it with, he claims, Goslings permission via email. Gosling subsequently sold his version to Unipress who promptly threatened RMS with litigation. RMS just as promptly completely rewrote the offending code so not only did it not infringe, it worked better.

It has to be said!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846104)

Eh bien c'est rien que pour ça que je vais voter NON a votre p****n de constitution de m***e!!
Huh I'm feeling better now!
P.S.: Note to all euro-zealots witch will flame me for this : don't argue that "building Europe" will provide the "little peoples of Europe" more weight against the Big Bad Scary <insert_your_favorite_enemy_here>, we all know that this masquerade is promoting the interests of big bussinesses .. (based in EU or not)
Now _PLEASE_ flame at will!!

It's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846108)

The Dawn of the UNDEAD!!!!!

OOooowwweeeeooooooooweeeeeoooooooo

Braiinnnnnssss...... Musttt.... have.... younnnggg.... braaiiinnssss....which are destroyed by too many patents.... mmmmmmmphphphph..

Here's a question... (2, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846123)

How can a new patent law be applied to existing software?

What I mean by that is that if someone defines, say, a new crime and brings out laws against that crime, from that point on you can try people for breaking those laws. But you can't retrospectively try people who committed that crime before the laws against it were written.

Sure, patent law has existed for years but software patent laws are not currently recognised in Europe. If they do get through, by the same logic, no software written before those laws were enforced can come under them - is that the case or am I missing something?

so.. (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11846129)

Who wants to abuse this patent system so we can piss off MS with their own tactics? all we need is alot of paper and time and we can patent everything from the spoon to the windows OS!

Clueless Slashdot reader response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11846167)

I shall now sit back and await the flood of comments from all the Slashdot readers who know nothing about the EU and even less about patent law.
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