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Protests Delay European Software Patent Vote

simoniker posted more than 11 years ago | from the protesters-certainly-very-persistent dept.

Patents 316

vinsci writes "According to CNET News, 'The European Parliament has delayed voting on a controversial software-patents directive, following protests and criticism by computer scientists and economists.' ZDNet UK adds: 'Warnings that a controversial directive could devastate European software businesses have struck a chord with MEPs. The European Parliament has delayed voting on a controversial software-patents directive... the vote, originally planned for Monday, will now take place at a plenary session starting on 22 September.' Wired also has a story on the protests."

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So (-1, Offtopic)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846379)

If subscribers to slashdot get to see the story before anyone else, why aren't there any posts?

Re:So (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846421)

"If subscribers to slashdot get to see the story before anyone else, why aren't there any posts?"

It's a holiday?

Re:So (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846436)

Because people are sick of the European slant in Slashdot stories?

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846447)

Honestly, how many subscribers do you even see? I think I see an average of maybe one every few days.

Re:So (-1, Offtopic)

sperling (524821) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846474)

Because subscribers dont get to post before others... Just see the story.

Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846566)

subscribing to /. proves you are stupid?

I mean, look at the evidence... Most of the early posts are "looke me! furst post" or "Join the GNAA!!!"

(joking)

I apologize for insulting people, but the idea that the editors are getting paid bothers me. Back in the day, they talked about things like writing features and improving the site. Now, they are building an impressive record of dupes and silence on the boards.

Really, we should be designing an improvement for usenet - a distributed weblog system - instead of subsidizing sites like /. and k5. It could even have a built-in replacement for AIM and MSN.

Nah - we all know that usenet only survives because of the binary groups; ISP's would happily kill it if they could avoid the uproar... and innovation died with Unix. Must...fight...inertia...

Also, Protests Delay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846380)

My First Post.

YOU FAIL IT!!!!1!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846389)

and fuck the GNAA

Re:Also, Protests Delay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846395)

u suck at the internet

Yay for Europe! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846383)

At least protests have an effect there. In the US, we need to protest tens of times to get the point across...

Re:Yay for Europe! (4, Insightful)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846518)

Even then, our protests go belittled in the media (unless record size) and are dismissed by the white house; which just uses a straw man.

Wait a mo.. (4, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846384)

... a protest actually accomplished something? Here in Portland, the primary accomplishment of a protest is to stop traffic.

Re:Wait a mo.. (1)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846485)

This is not just in Portland. Here in Greece protest do no more than stop traffic. This is an undisputed fact.

The article ,however, mentions that protests actually did infuence the postponement.

Therefore we have to conclude that traffic problems are directly related to software patents..
Aarghh. my head hurts..

Re:Wait a mo.. (0, Flamebait)

__past__ (542467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846563)

Here in Greece protest do no more than stop traffic.
Scince when do you need a protest for that? ;-)

Seriously, though, I guess that demonstations have a richer and more sucessfull tradition in most parts of europe than they have in the USA. Which isn't saying much.

However, this fight isn't over yet. Let's keep kicking ass. It not only helps keeping europe a saner place, maybe it someday also helps our american friends realize what they could achive if they would stop being nationalist pricks.

Re:Wait a mo.. (1)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846586)

hrmmmmm... Maybe us Americans should be taking notes? Isn't the WTO Summit coming up? :D

Re:Wait a mo.. (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846635)

Yeah, it got them to delay the vote long enough for the general public to forget about it. Once everyone's gone home and forgotten, they'll vote yes anyway :)

News to me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846388)

fp

Finally some sense (-1, Flamebait)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846392)

Its good to know the rest of the world isn't as sold out as Amerikkka and M$.

Don't assume (4, Interesting)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846520)

...that Europe isn't as "sold out" as the USA. It's just sold out to different people and for different reasons. Mainly it's sold out to political vested interests, rather than campaign contributors. Luckily one of the more influential groups (the socialists) seem to have gotten the message that this software-patent stuff is bad for their agenda. For once the commies are the good guys. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Re:Don't assume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846619)

OK, for the N^Nth time, Socialism is NOT Communism. Go and read some history books, for Chrissakes.

Whats This About My Rights Online?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846402)

what those cheese eating european socialist pussy faggots do has nothing to do with MY rights online.

That's because I live in the good ol' US of A. The best godamnn country in the world.

So please editors, don't group my rights with those pansy ass euros.

MOD PARENT UP +5 ACCURATE (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846453)

Re:Whats This About My Rights Online?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846579)

And you wonder why some people hate USA... why they do things like 9/11 !!

You guy's need be more humble about 'your preciouuss' country... or you will have to get used to being tought lessons like that again.

Well... hopefully you don't represent the majority of the people in USA, or the ppl on this board for that matter.

And yeah, I know the parent-post was intended as a troll/flamebait, but sadly enough, pathetic people like him really exists.

Re:Whats This About My Rights Online?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846800)

YHBT?

Welcome to troll land.
Population: -1

Oh, wait, err... No. forget about it...

"According to CNET news" ??? (0)

Amsterdam Vallon (639622) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846403)

That's like getting detailed plumbing advice from the Yellow Pages people, no?

Software patents weren't be so bad... (5, Funny)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846408)

...If they weren't so often given to people for doing the equivalent of being the first cave man to crack open a coconut with a sharp rock. Any company that tries to patent something like "1-click buying" should be sent a present from the unibomber.

Re:Software patents weren't be so bad... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846481)

Does he hold the patent to "one-package bombing"?

Re:Software patents weren't be so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846493)

i know it's tempting to call him the unibomber, but he was the unabomber...

Its not just EU (5, Insightful)

anonymous coword (615639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846410)

Imagine who will be next. What if Asia, Canada, South America, Africa, Austrilia were lobbying for software patents! This is an international problem, and it must be protested everywhere!

Re:Its not just EU (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846603)

"Imagine who will be next. What if Asia, Canada, South America, Africa, Austrilia were lobbying for software patents! This is an international problem, and it must be protested everywhere! "

The Simpsons are heading for Africa!

when will this be over (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846413)

'The European Parliament has delayed voting on a controversial software-patents directive

hmm, well I as long as the voting is delayed, european software patents wont exist, also this will help more people become aware of the situation and hopefully gain more opposition.

but someday I want to see the end result :)

Still... (5, Interesting)

rzbx (236929) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846415)

Why are they only delaying things? It is obvious most people do not accept software patents. This is coming from software programmers and economists. For the sake of humanity and the economy, why don't those politicians listen to those that are involved in the process of software and not those that simply make a business from it? I understand things are a bit more complicated, but I'm really getting tired of hearing politicians being constantly swaying by big businesses. I'm glad I did my part in this (even though I don't live in Europe), I sent my email/letter using all the available online services that are fighting against these softare patents.

Re:Still... (3, Insightful)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846517)

Well, as usual. Delaying means that the proponents for the issue has time to come forward with another proposal - which may sound completely different but in essence is the same proposal again. This new proposal will be said tio be a good comprimise to try and convine the undecided to vote for the proposal.

Thats politics!

Re:Still... (4, Insightful)

aastanna (689180) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846576)

Well, it's not like they are going to implement the patents and they are only delaying the start date. They are delaying a vote, so it's still undecided.

To me it sounds like some of the people who might have voted yes on this issue may have realized how stupid they were being, and hopefully will re-examine the facts and have a change of hart.

Remember, politicians by and large won't understand the issue themselves, it's way out of their field, and it needs to be explained. For many years lobbiests for major corporations have been explaining the yes side, now some economists are explaining the no side and people are realizing the major problems with software patents.

But big business likes them... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846709)

IBM, Microsoft as mentioned are 'land-grabbing', getting a large number of patents. They both have the money, and the focus, to bear on legislation.

I would presume that a lot of the software patents are like WMDs - never expected to actually be used but the threat of 'you attack us, we can hit you with patents X,Y,Z' (and legal costs!).

What is important, is that they act as a defense against any form of attack from a company involved in software development. Acme tries to sue IBM over a electronics patent, IBM threatens or actively counterattacks with software patents.

But how long before you get companies that only own software patents, but dont develop software. That way they can attack without needing to defend!

Delay (-1, Offtopic)

Crazy Eight (673088) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846417)

Burning Man ruled!

Psyche! Off topic, burn-karma-burn, pun intended, so long suckers, etc...

Too late... (-1, Redundant)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846420)

SCO already has a patent on protesting against software patents. Pay up or face the music.

You completely inhale the pastes in crust (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846424)

It has come to my attention that you completely inhale the pastes in crust. Read on for more about this fascinating topic.

The world went into shock a few weeks ago when goatse.info [goatse.info] reported the results of a study which concluded that inhaling paste is a very dangerous pastime, one that no one is advised to take up. Eventually, everyone adapted to the new state of affairs and began inhaling other things. Almost everyone, that is. But not you! According to my records, you still inhale paste!

Why?! What the fuck is wrong with you?!

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Who gives a rats ass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846427)

Last time I checked this was a U.S. website with U.S. news. If I wanted to read this euro garbage, I would go to euro-trash.com or something.

Re:Who gives a rats ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846662)

This is not a U.S. newsite! Crawl back to your cave you ignorant bastard! If you want local news go to CNN's website.

Looks like Mike B was WRONG (1)

110010001000 (697113) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846432)

Poor Mike, he put a foot in his mouth in this one. Check out:

http://news.zdnet.co.uk/business/0,39020645,2136 65 1,00.htm

Devastating (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846435)

Why would it be "devastating" to Europe when it has not "devastated" anything in other countries with software patents?

Can anyone cite an example where an economy has been "devastated" by these patents? I surely can't.

Re:Devastating (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846457)

It'd call the utter stagnation of the software industry in the USA, devastation.
Even devastation begins to look "normal" if you've lived with it long enough, as the USA has.

Re:Devastating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846469)

It'd call the utter stagnation of the software industry in the USA, devastation.

I'm sorry, but can you name a stronger software industry than that of the US?

Re:Devastating (5, Insightful)

Nexus Seven (112882) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846476)

India.

Um... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846883)

Could you kindly pin your last, best hope on a country that's a little less likely to be involved in a nuculear exchange with their neighbors within the next decade or so? How about Japa... No... there's that whole North Korea thing. Pity, they seem like good programmers too. Hmm... South Africa?

Re:Devastating (4, Insightful)

Cassius105 (623098) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846926)

America has a strong software business yes

but thas because software patents benefit large corporations

what they damage is the actual quality of software

If we have software patents thrown out here in europe then we should start to enjoy a higher quality of software

because software sold in europe wont have to abide by software patents so developers can use all the software methods they know of to make the best possible software without any worry of being sued or anything

while in american you will still have software restricted because companies have to abide by patents in the design of it

Im not a business man so im not sure if european software companies will make more money than american ones

but on the consumer end it will be alot better in europe because out software will be free of patent restrictions

Re:Devastating (1)

Sphere1952 (231666) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846865)


The U.S.of A.

second time it is postponed (3, Insightful)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846438)

This is in fact the second time it is postponed. Let's hope that this is because they are seriously considering the impact of their decision and not some form of bureaucracy.

Re:second time it is postponed (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846666)

No it is the SEVENTH time it has been postponed:
EU Software Patent Plans Shelved Amid Massive Demonstrations [ffii.org]

The directive has been controversial since its publication on 2002-02-20, and decisions have been delayed already seven times from the initially scheduled vote of 2002-12-16.

This will continue until protesting dies down through constant delays and divide and conquer tactics. It is very hard to win at a game that is never played wheneven the opposition has a chance of losing.

Re:second time it is postponed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846708)

This is in fact the second time it is postponed.

Nah, it's just another dupe :)

Good thing or bad thing? (4, Interesting)

doormat (63648) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846439)

Is this good? That we got a delay? Or do they simply want to wait until the tide rolls out, then pass it when there isnt as much vocal opposition. Regardless, keep the pressure on them! Make sure software patents arent allowed!

Re:Good thing or bad thing? (1)

KingJoshi (615691) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846547)

Those are my thoughts exactly. It may be too cynical, but as they say, "it's not paranoia if they're really out to get you." And there are people that are advocating for software patents so we should keep the pressure up.

Re:Good thing or bad thing? (2, Funny)

E_elven (600520) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846695)

Well, it's still paranoia. The difference is just that when they finally 'get' you, your friends will say 'well, I suppose he was right, after all.'

Re:Good thing or bad thing? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846836)

Yeah, that's usually how this sort of thing goes. Lobbyists have boundless energy and if they get shot down one year, they just tweak their strategy and try again, and again until they get their way. The only way to completely stop them is drive a stake into... oh wait that's vampires. Um... sing their song backwards... no that sucubusses... Hmm... has anyone found the weakness for lobbyists yet?

Proportional patents? (5, Funny)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846441)

Why not make the patents proportional to the amount of time and effort required to come up with the algoritm? I.e. "1 click shopping" should be patentable for about 10 minutes, while something like a machine vision algorithm which required years of research should be patentable for years...

Re:Proportional patents? (3, Funny)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846473)

Why not make the patents proportional to the amount of time and effort required to come up with the algoritm?

I can see the courtroom testimony now:

"Your honor, I swear I'm an idiot and it really took me five years to come with this idea. Really!"

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

Tar-Palantir (590548) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846500)

That is a nice idea, but how would you propose to come up with the length of the patent? In practice, I think that your idea would merely make more work for an already-overworked patent office, and probably from there directly to Bad Things.

There are some relatively simple ideas that ought to have a reasonable patent length. "1-click" is not a bad patent because it's a simple idea, but because it is an over-broad business method patent. It is not, as you said, an algorithm.

For my opinion, I don't think algorithms should be patentable at all, for any term.

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

Monster Munch (152218) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846551)


That is a nice idea, but how would you propose to come up with the length of the patent?

Give them three years to come up with a use for their patent, then for each year that their patented idea actually makes a profit (including licensing), allow them to utilize the patents protections for a set time period.

This way they actually have to use it or lose it, also if it's any good then people _will_ license its use.

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

tugrul (750) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846605)

Makes a profit? How do you measure that? Our favorite example of One-Click Shopping doesn't exactly generate concrete revenue, only perhaps through some murky study of purchase patterns before and after its introduction. Hell, what about shady accounting... want the Patent Office to have its little SEC division?

The Patent Office can't handle its given workload, why are we eager to give them more decisions to screw up?

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

donnz (135658) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846545)

And why not at the very least make have a demonstrateble version of software a condition of the patent. What we are seeing a lot these days are vague poorly written specifications for " my using the internet.". SOmetimes the applications were made several years ago and yet still not a line of code has appeared.

This is a far cry from the image of an inventor sweeting for years over a thousand prototypes before the hit on a working model.

Bottom line though, is that software patents are going to tax us to death.

Re:Proportional patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846661)

I already see some guys writing 5 lines of code as a "demo program" for their patents. The easiest the idea to come up with, the easier the program. "Inventing" patents like that could be a very beneficial business. Write 5 lines of code and charge 5 million $ fro every infringement.

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846908)

That's why the software should be protected by copyrights and licenses, not by patents.

Re:Proportional patents? (5, Insightful)

woodhouse (625329) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846562)

That's exactly how the system works without patents. If it's difficult to implement, it's difficult to copy. A difficult algorithm will take years for anyone to reproduce unless they have the source code. No need to patent anything.

Re:Proportional patents? (2, Insightful)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846655)

No, a difficult algorithm can be reverse-engineered from the machine code if you have a copy of the software.

Effort to discover != Effort to implement (2, Insightful)

tugrul (750) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846735)

For example, that super drug that took years and billions to discover, but in the end is only a chemical formula for a molecule that anyone can fabricate.

Re:Proportional patents? (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846891)

The source code help only in simple cases. When the project and its environment is complicated then interfaces are also complicated. Adaptation is also a very difficult job. Often your programmer will prefer to write it from scratch rather than to use the code. Of course the source code makes the job of copying and adaptation to be much easier. But it will be still very difficult.

Re:Proportional patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846596)

I concur along those lines.

I believe a higher obviousness threshold on software inventions is the only workable solution here.

Your machine vision algorithm could just the sort of non obvious innovation that would be worthy of patent protection (it might fall under the catagory of innovation that had been invested in partially due to the potential reward of patent protection).

If software patents were to be outlawed then the patentees would resort back to depicting their software invention as part of a gadget in order to gain patent protection (A gadget with memory locations and a monitoring device).

There is also the issue of process patents that the point of novelty would obviously be implemented as controller software. The patentee would avoid depicting the invention in specific software terms in order to gain a patent. Then one would still be infringing by writing a program to perform the patented process.

SO there will be a multitude of new vagaries and points of issue that would increase the cost of dancing around new uncertainties in the system.

The elimination of the majority of the obvious SW patents seems a more workable solution.

You may disagree and believe that all software patents should be abolished.

But don't think that software patent abolition will eliminate the ruling of software infringing on "physical" inventions.

And don't think that we will be rid of lousy patents as a whole either.

Good for Europe (2, Insightful)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846448)


tell the US they can take their idiot software patents and shove them where the sun don't shine. Because one dufus judge ruled that a business process could be patented, the Patent Office has rubber stamped anything that comes in the door. If I were Europe, I just simply wouldn't honor what monkeys with rubber stamps do.

rd

Re:Good for Europe (2, Informative)

GoBears (86303) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846573)

If you read the EU proposal (click through the Wired article and then to the first link), you would in fact see that they go to great lengths to distance themselves from business-method patents or any other patents that do not have technical content.

Business-method patents are not the issue here.

Re:Good for Europe (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846665)

Business-method patents are not the issue here.

They already told the US to shove it then. Good.

rd

The protests are causing other protests.... (0)

anonymous coword (615639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846454)

In the free software community. Recently, the closure of KDE.org in prostest of software patents, has caused some controvesy over how free software should role in the world of politcs. More information can be found on a kde developers blog.

Blog can be found here [the-amazing.us]

Re:The protests are causing other protests.... (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846478)

I would hardly call anything that Neil Stevens says as "controversey"...

He's spent so long with a tinfoil hat on, it's fused to his head.

Good Thing(tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846471)

the protests even got any response. After the sinister YRO stories lately, this suprises me.

Please help. (5, Insightful)

BillKaos (657870) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846472)

Yes, we know you slashdotters are mostly American, as said before, but please, this is a CRUTIAL fact to European Free Software, so please, help us, help you, and support the protest: change your page.

Thank you.

Voting (0, Flamebait)

jabbadabbadoo (599681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846477)

Voting 'Yes' for this directive is like voting 'Yes' for Arnold as governor. Crazy [joinarnold.com] .

What about the USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846480)

Can you obtain an ePatent in the USA?

Woohoo!! (1)

mikera (98932) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846482)

As someone who actually wrote to my MEPs about this issue, I'm pretty pleased about this...

Re:Woohoo!! (1)

buford_tannen (555867) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846565)

Thank you for having the balls to do so. With people like you taking a stand and actually being heard, there is a chance that Europe might be saved from the technological fate that awaits the United States.

It's probably time for me to start looking into the emigration process...

Only 400 Protestors? (0)

netherpunk (609954) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846488)

Wow. If only 400 Protestors was what it would take to stop stupid laws in the U.S. then I would protest a hell of a lot more.

The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (4, Insightful)

Thagg (9904) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846498)

I believe that the reason that this is coming up with a vote at all is that the WIPO requires 'harmonization' of patent laws in all WIPO-member countries, and everybody is being encouraged to harmonize to the insane US status quo ante.

Let us hope that the EU can stick to their principles and stand up to US hegemony on this issue. It's not unrealistic to think that a software-patent-free-Europe could have dramatically stronger growth in software than it would have otherwise. Software patents will force force Europe into second-class status for decades.

The open source movement, and GNU/Linux in particular, has shown that software is fundementally different than 'things' -- people will create it on a large scale just for the pleasure of doing so.

thad

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (3, Informative)

GoBears (86303) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846548)

Contrary to the hysterical claims you read in /., Europe is not free of software patents now. Anyone who bothers to click through to read the EU proposal here [eu.int] will read the following observation:

The patenting of computer-implemented inventions is not new. Indeed, patents involving use of software have been applied for and granted since the earliest days of the European patent system and it is now estimated that 15% of all applications for patents received by the EPO relate to computer-implemented inventions.

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (2, Informative)

GammaTau (636807) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846641)

Contrary to the hysterical claims you read in /., Europe is not free of software patents now.

In the same sense, the world is not free of software patents. Some countries in the world have software patents, some other countries don't. There is no standard policy on software patents throughout the world.

Continuing this example, some EU countries have allowed software patents, some haven't. "Europe" or "EU" has had no directive concerning patenting software. It has been up to the member countries.

I think you could compare it to a situation where patents would have been granted in individual states of the USA. Some would have allowed software patents and some other states wouldn't. And then the Congress were to decide on a Federal law overriding all the local laws.

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (1)

MBMarduk (607040) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846674)

....which then begs the question why the EP needs another implementation. A BSA-made directive of all things.
According to the main speaker (FFII) at the Brussel protest, apparently these directives are a PITA to write because of the extensive use of formal wordings (lawyer-speak), so these euro-shills want to push it through to make believe they've actually been working.

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (2, Interesting)

mczak (575986) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846870)

Contrary to the hysterical claims you read in /., Europe is not free of software patents now.
It is true that a lot of software patents were already granted by the EPO. However, they were granted clearly against the letter of the current directive. The funny thing is, the EPO says something along the lines they are expecting a newer directive to allow software patents so they grant them already, and in this new directive exactly these existing software patents are now used to show that the new directive is merely here to preserve the status quo...
However, I'm not aware of ANY lawsuits concerning any of those software patents. IMHO nobody is crazy enough to sue someone else, because chances are the courts would just invalidate the patent (because it contains just non-patentable stuff according to the law). Remember, the patent office GRANTS the patent, but the COURT decides if it is VALID.

And the US is pressured to match Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846570)

it is an upward spiral

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846591)

Well the upside is that in general, with the current exception of El Presidente Blair, Europe doesn't like blindly following the US in everything they do.

With any luck they'll look at the whole story here and not just what the big businesses are saying. I'm not sure if US politicians are more susceptible to 'bribary' or whether it's simply more prevenlant in the US, but I'm delighted that the MEP's actually seem to potentially care more about their constituants than their wallets.

Re:The US will put massive pressure on MEPs (1)

newhoggy (672061) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846775)

I believe that the reason that this is coming up with a vote at all is that the WIPO requires 'harmonization' of patent laws in all WIPO-member countries, and everybody is being encouraged to harmonize to the insane US status quo ante.

It's not a particularly convincing reason either.

Why must harmonization always be towards a reduction in liberties? Modifying US patent laws to suit the EU is just as valid a method of harmonization.

The Jury is out.... (1)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846509)


Could this be democracy in action?

Or just another slow motion train-wreck?

Only the MEPs will decide


Oh dear......

Good News (4, Funny)

Houn (590414) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846511)

It's good to see that protests can have an effect on issues every now and then. My fear, however, is that even if this is thrown down this time, how long until it comes up again, and how long until it passes into law? In my experience, the decision-makers tend to be Greedy, Stupid, or both. Of course, I live in the US, so...

This is just an evil plot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846535)

... to annoy all of us as a bunch of useful sites will undoubtably shut down again later this month.

Bastards!

Non-exclusive software patents? (5, Insightful)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846578)

There is still a big problem so long as the U.S. is allowing these patents.

Scenario 1: Europe allows software patents.
Jan 1990-Jan 2004: Various people around the world use a borderline-patentable idea because it is obvious, but don't try to patent it.
Jan 2004: EuroSoft* file to patent the idea in Europe.
May 2004: AmeriSoft* file to patent the idea in the US.
Jan 2006: EuroSoft's patent is approved, and used to oppress the masses, including AmeriSoft. AmeriSoft's patent is either refused or is toothless because of this.

* All companies in these scenarios are fictional. Any resemblence with real companies of the same name, trading or defunct, is purely coincidental, and their fault for choosing such an obvious company name.

Scenario 2 - Europe does not allow software patents.
Jan 1990-Jan 2004: Various people around the world use a borderline-patentable idea because it is obvious, but don't try to patent it.
Jan 2004: EuroSoft considers patenting the idea, but would have to do so in the U.S. This would be much harder for them, and it is a long shot anyway that the patent office will be stupid enough to grant it, so they don't.
May 2004: AmeriSoft file to patent the idea in the US.
May 2006: AmeriSoft's patent is approved, and used to oppress the masses, including EuroSoft.

From our point of view, there isn't much difference between these scenarios, but clearly the European Parliment will prefer scenario 1.

I think what we need is special cheap non-exclusive patents. (Perhaps the name needs working on, as it is somewhat oxymoronic as it stands.) It would not allow the "patent" owner to prevent anyone else using the idea, but would provide assured protection against anyone who filed for a patent on the same idea at a later date.

Scenario 3:
Jan 1990-Jan 2004: Various people around the world use a borderline-patentable idea because it is obvious, but don't try to patent it.
Jan 2004: EuroSoft* file a non-exclusive patent on the idea in Europe.
May 2004: AmeriSoft* file to patent the idea in the US.
May 2006: AmeriSoft is unable to oppress EuroSoft because of the patent. Anyone else is able to claim to be using EuroSoft's patent on the idea, not AmeriSoft.

This could all be achieved without government intervention just by publishing in a Journal of No-Longer-Patentable Ideas. (Or web-site. Are there such sites? Easy Karma to the person to post links to some.) As IANAL, I don't know if there would be any benefit in official government recognition via the patent office.

Possibly there could be some allowance for the patents to be used defensively only - i.e. you can only prevent someone using your patent if they are trying to prevent you using one of theirs. I can see a Family Economy-Size Can-o-Worms down this path, but it may still be better than the Barrel-o-Worms we're dealing with now.

No Longer Patentable Ideas (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846707)

This [laying prior claim to an idea without patenting it, to prevent later hostile patenting of it] could all be achieved without government intervention just by publishing in a Journal of No-Longer-Patentable Ideas. (Or web-site.)

Or I could just co-opt Slashdot for the purpose. Here's a couple:

If those RFID tags could be made really cheaply, you could put one on every piece of recyclable packaging (ideally you'd just add some smart-dust to the plastic mix.) Then rubish could be automatically sorted for recycling (whether at the point of initial discarding or at the landfill is an implementation detail.)

You could replace all of the music stands of an orchestra with computer displays (LCD with current technology.) This would display the music, and scroll to keep up with the performance. Ideally the scrolling is done by a computer with a microphone, but if that is too hard, it could be controlled by a human. One computer method is for the computer to have a previous recording of the piece, preferably by the same orchestra/conductor combo, and 'markings' against the recording pointing to the corresponding point in the score. The computer then attempts to correlate the recording with what it is getting through the microphone. There would be allowance for manually resetting it to a certain score location, as would be necessary in rehersal.

Re:Non-exclusive software patents? (1)

chgros (690878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846809)

Are patents filed in some country valid for the entire world ?
I don't think so. Actually, if they were, scenario 2 would be the current situation.
And if they aren't, your entire point is invalid.
Actually, if patent policies are different in different countries, they can't be valid across these countries (to avoid this absurd second scenario you're talking about, where a company which filed a patent in its country can oppress another one in another country where the thing is not patentable).
Your idea of a "non-exclusive patent" is still valid, but I don't think the difference in price would be enough of an incentive for companies to use it.

An interesting opportunity for Europe (3, Insightful)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846702)

By rejecting software patents, it is possible that Europe could rival and even surpass the US in software deveopment. Let's face it, Europe is not generally known for a pro-business environment. This is one of those rare occasions when the Europeans can offer an advantage without tax breaks or other subsidies. "You mean all we have to do is cut the BS, starting with software patents?" Yup.

The American system of patents and copyrights creates a few winners at the expense of a great many losers. Give "the other guys" a place to set up shop, and things get interesting. Toss in the ability of the Internet, where you can exist administratively in one country and do the actual work anywhere you want, and things get very interesting.

Re:An interesting opportunity for Europe (1)

Sphere1952 (231666) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846910)


Hmmmm... I've been thinking of moving. Any EU company out there need a software engineer?

Really that bad (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846738)

I've been reading the proposal. It really doesn't seem that bad. Examples:

1-In order to be patentable, inventions in general and computer-implemented inventions in particular must be susceptible of industrial application, new and involve an inventive step. In order to involve an inventive step, computer-implemented inventions should make a technical contribution to the state of the art.

2-Accordingly, even though a computer-implemented invention belongs by virtue of its very nature to a field of technology, it is important to make it clear that where an invention does not make a technical contribution to the state of the art, as would be the case, for example, where its specific contribution lacks a technical character, the invention will lack an inventive step and thus will not be patentable.

3-Furthermore, an algorithm is inherently non-technical and therefore cannot constitute a technical invention. Nonetheless, a method involving the use of an algorithm might be patentable provided that the method is used to solve a technical problem. However, any patent granted for such a method would not monopolise the algorithm itself or its use in contexts not foreseen in the patent.

4-This recital makes it clear that it is not enough to specify the use of a computer (i.e. of technical means) to make a computer-implemented invention patentable. The invention as a whole must make a technical contribution. Ordinary data processing is not enough.

5-It is important to clarify that not all computer-implemented inventions are necessarily patentable. However, computer-implemented inventions should not be excluded from patentability on the sole ground that they specify the use of a computer program. By stressing the fact that a patentable computer-implemented invention, albeit belonging to a field of technology, must make a technical contribution to the state of the art and by drawing attention to the problem and solution approach used by the patent examiners at the European Patent Office in assessing inventive step, it is intended to avoid allowing inventive but non-technical methods (including business methods) to be regarded as making a technical contribution and hence as patentable merely because they are implemented on a computer.


Well it doesn't seem so dangerous

This bill needs to fail (3, Interesting)

sn00ker (172521) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846817)

I'm not sure if the Australians have actually realised the significance of their push for a Free Trade Agreement *derisive snort* with the US.
What it actually means to them is that the Yanks will bully them into passing laws similar to the DMCA and their obscene IP protection laws.
Since NZ (where I live) is discussing trying to get an FTA with the US too, I hope the Aussies tell the US where to stick their restrictive and absurd IP laws.

If this bill fails, it's easier for other countries to tell the US that their laws are so stupid that the only people using them are themselves. If the EU folds, then the result of the world just becomes a row for xxAA to bulldoze with the support of the US government.

Economic advantage to Europe? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6846827)

Software patents look like they cost software development companies plenty to manage. I would suspect that they would cost the economy even more in lost innovation.

If so, Europe shouldn't introduce software patents as Europe would get a competitive advantage over the US.

Major european companies would still need to build a dossier of software patents by applying for software patents in the US. These would be needed for trading with US companies - "We will charge you $1 royalties on ours, if you charge us $1 for royalties on yours". Also they are needed for the threat of legal attack, as a protective shield against attack (patent or otherwise)!

In Soviet America... (3, Insightful)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 11 years ago | (#6846901)

The first thing I thought when I saw that headline was "wow - that's like America thinks it is".

I wrote to my senators once each regarding issues. I sat and took the time to do research and provide references to my findings, wrote it up in a very professional manner, proofed it, etc. before sending it. On one of them I got an autoresponse that basically said "If you're a contributor trying to set a meeting time call this number, if you're anyone else, go away". I never got ANY response from the other. I notice several people so far have mentioned they wrote to their MEPs about this issue and it sounds like they may have actually been heard.

Hmmmm..... must be nice to live in a country where your representatives represent you at least occasionally...

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