February 18, 2005 7:19 AM PST

Europe's patent proposal pending

Senior members of the European Parliament have ratified a request to send the software patent directive back to the drawing board, but campaigners on both sides are split on what will happen next.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament's legal-affairs committee requested that the directive regarding the patentability of computer-implemented inventions be rewritten.

As it now stands, the directive would legalize software patents. Supporters say the directive would protect research and development investments by European companies. Opponents say it would stifle innovation.

A parliament representative said the rewrite request was approved Thursday without debate by the Conference of Presidents--the president of the parliament and the chairs of political groups--and can now be passed to the European Commission, which will decide whether to agree to the request.

Initially, the Commission was expected to follow the parliament's request, but recent indications suggest that it may ignore the request, having expressed disappointment that the EU Council had postponed ratifying the directive.

Hartmut Pilch, president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, said he is unsure what will happen next.

"It is not certain that the Commission will comply with the request of the Parliament, nor that it will use the opportunity to draft a good text," Pilch said.

Florian Mueller, the campaign manager of an antipatent Web site, said the mood at a press conference following an antipatent demonstration in Brussels, Belgium, was confident.

"People are in an upbeat mood because of the Conference of Presidents' decision and because it was unanimous--now a strong political decision will be sent to the EC," Mueller said. "Everyone thinks it unlikely that the Commission will ignore the request for a restart outright."

Protesters go bananas
over EU patent plan

The debate gets lively
when it comes to the
value of software patents.

Hugo Lueders, the director of public policy at The Computing Technology Industry Association, a pro-patent organization, is also unsure what will happen next.

He contends that software patents are needed to ensure that the EU can keep to the goals set by the "Lisbon Agenda"--that the EU will become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.

"While the repercussions of today's action are not yet clear, the role of strong (intellectual property) as an engine of European growth as part of the Lisbon Agenda is beyond question," Lueders said. "Last May's political agreement in the (European) Council roundly delivers on the agenda's goals, he added.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.


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One million Europeans against Patents, now!
Time to initiate a popular initiative with one million EU citizens against patents.

See Article I-47 (Participative Democracy Principles), item 4, of the new EU constitution:
at least one million of EU citizens can sign a petition to force the EU Commission to examine a project of law, when they feel that a legal act is necessary to protect their rights protected by the constitution.

As the Commission will be the only one that will be allowed to initiate such legal action, and as the EU law will have primacy over national laws in the EU (Article I-14), this patent law threat would collapse immediately if there was a strong action by EU citizens that would force the Commission to abandon its project.

It's true that the new EU 2005 Constitution is not entered in application (needs ratification, but ratification is already in progress and will happen soon), the Commision that strongly supports the ratification of this consitution cannot ignore this fundamental act of citizenship.

Time to act now before the Commission forces the current Parlement to adopt such Pro-Patent law.
EU Citizens can act now... It's not impossible to reach the 1 million signatures throughout the 25 member states of the European Union!

Let's demonstrate that Citizens can really have an influence on the new institutions. If not, the Constitution is flawed, and Article I-14 is extremely dangerous for European democracies because it REVERTS the fundamental rights of European citizens in MOST member states, with clearly unbalanced powership of the Commission, which is NOT democratically designated (and WON'T BE even after the contitution is ratified), a Commission which will have full power for FIVE years, and has the PRIMARY ROLE even before the democratic EU Parlement, or even before the Council of Regions which will represent the existing national, regional and local institutions of member states (the Council of Regions will only have consultative role, and no legislative or even executive role).

Remember this: with the new Constitution, all national institutions will loose their legislative role, and will only have an executive role to adopt the EU laws initiated by the non democratic Commission!

Actions from Citizens is necessary and must continue even after the Consitution is ratified. Clearly, EU Citizens will need to force the Commission to present a law to the EU parlement so that the Commission will be responsable of its action at least each year face to the EU parlement, by a vote of trustness!

I strongly support a new Constitution for Europe, and most of its acts are already in application with CE and TUE treaties, with the exception of a few fundamental new articles:
* Art. I-14 about primacy of EU laws
* Art I-14 to I-16 about the legal acts and role of the European Union (the field of action)
* and some less important articles in Part I, such as mutual assistance and solidarity in case of terrorism or human or biological threats, for which the national institutions have their role.

(Part II of the Consitution is already ratified because it consists in all existing articles of the European Charter of Fundamental Human Rights)
(Part III defines many technicle articles that make Part I and Part II applicable in practice)

Consider this: read the EU Consitution Part I, and look at the very few articles that are really new. These are the most intrigating ones, notably article I-14 which is the most important of them.
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project of law
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