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Thread: Ilegalise free software USA Microsoft European Parliament

  1. #1
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    Ilegalise free software USA Microsoft European Parliament

    Wrote to my European parliament member and asked him to oppose US attempt to bugger up free software. Have to say I am not an expert on this subject and just trying to do the right thing. Got this response:

    Dear Mr Teehalt

    Thank you for your email of 18 October 2003 with regard to the
    Commission's
    proposal for a
    Directive on "The Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions,"
    also
    known as the Software Patents Directive.

    The Commission's proposal sets out to clarify the patent regime in
    Europe
    and to curb any tendencies toward the United States' model of
    wide-ranging
    and permissive patenting. In a world where technology, electronics and
    computers are used more and more in our machines, gadgets and cars,
    this
    proposal seeks to establish and standardise some type of status and
    rights
    for innovation in these fields. It also aims to harmonise patent
    protection
    across the EU, so that inventors can be sure that a patent obtained in
    France is also valid in Germany or any other Member State. At present,
    the
    Member States have differing laws and patent procedures, which can
    easily be
    seen as an impediment to the EU's "internal market" project.

    Although the ever increasing presence of computers and computer
    programmes
    in manufactured products requires that provisions be established for
    the
    protection of such types of inventions, the patenting measures need to
    be
    more strictly defined and confined so as not to stifle and discourage
    computer programming and software development in Europe.

    If anything, this Directive should help patent authorities distinguish
    between genuinely patentable inventions which use computers programmes
    to
    make machines work better and pure software which manipulate abstract
    data
    within a computer. Herein lies the importance of the definitions of the
    terminology used in the proposal, specifically "computer-implemented
    inventions." Unfortunately, the proposal does not adequately explain or
    define such inventions. If its aim is to clarify the situation of what
    is
    and is not patentable, the proposal's lack of precision and definition
    is
    cause for concern.

    Further uncertainty arises from the requirement of a "technical
    contribution" in order to qualify for a patent. Although "software as
    such"
    is not patentable, the directive proposal does allow for exceptions. If
    a
    programme involves a technical innovation, it could be patentable.
    Unfortunately, the definition of said "technical" contribution is left
    open
    to much interpretation. In fact, are computers not, by their very
    nature,
    "technical?" It could be argued that any new computer program is a
    technical
    innovation. While it is true that the proposal does exclude algorithms
    and
    business models from patentability, there is no clear
    definition/boundary/scope for them in the proposal, leaving again a
    vagueness and uncertainty to be dealt with by patent officers and
    judges.

    Given the nature of computers and IT, its rapid evolution, growth and
    innovation, pinning down very detailed definitions could prove
    difficult and
    they could quickly become dated. However, little or no definition will
    also
    create controversy and uncertainty, and maybe even lead to a flurry of
    innovation constricting patents.

    I have decided to support the amendments by my colleague Piia-Noora
    Kauppi
    MEP (Finland) in the interests of clarity. The only thing that is clear
    is
    that the text is very complicated and difficult to understand and
    interpret.
    We must not allow such confusion to become law.

    As you may know, many of my colleague's amendments were adopted at the
    European Parliament's Plenary session on 24th September. This is a
    complicated and delicate issue, and policy-makers and Member State
    governments are highly divided over how to harmonise these patents
    whilst at
    the same time protecting pure software and avoiding the US route. The
    next
    steps, the Council position and the Commission's comments, are likely
    to be
    at odds with the Parliament's report and will doubtless mean drawn-out
    negotiations and compromises. One can only hope a satisfactory
    middle-ground
    can be found.

    Thank you for raising your concerns with me and alerting me to this
    issue.

    Regards

    Giles Chichester MEP
    48 Queen Street
    Exeter, Devon, EX4 3SR United Kingdom
    01392 491815

    What does it mean? Who can tell?

  2. #2

    Re:Ilegalise free software USA Microsoft European Parliament

    It's extremely vague. Looks like a lot of waffling and giving unclear background on how unclear the situation is. Basically look up the stance of that Finland guy and you'll know where your man stands.

    EDIT: What the crap does the title of this article mean anyway?

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