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UKPO Workshops Find EU Patent Directive Faulty

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the turn-the-boat dept.

Patents 63

TheEvilOverlord writes "ZDNet has up a report about the current EU patent directive not being up to muster; 'Workshops held by the UK Patent Office (UKPO) around the country have found that the definition of technical contribution in the software patent directive would let through too many patents'. Unfortunately the UKPO can't change the government's stance of supporting this destructive directive."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671848)

frog post!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672352)

Thanks, frog. You made my day! Let's hope the weed smokers, the bankers, and the others will follow you!

ROB MALDA IS A FUCKING TOOLSHED (-1, Offtopic)

Albert Pussyjuice (675113) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671862)

Attention liberals:

Go fucking kill yourselves.

You're living in a country that you hate.

Why let these fucks push you around any longer?

Show them who the boss is!

They're forcing their religious views down your throat. You've been conditioned to believe that suicide is wrong. Don't let them get away with it any longer. End your lives now!

Thank you and have a good night!

Does the UKPO know... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671868)

that UKPO in rot13 gives HXCB? LOL.

no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671883)


From the article:

The minister for science and innovation, Lord Sainsbury, and the UKPO agreed to hold the workshops after a public meeting at the end of last year, where software

Lord Sainsbury == crony [bbc.co.uk]

No way (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671904)

http://www.geocities.com/angiemtg/ [geocities.com]

You have officially been proven wrong.

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671934)

That's a damn good geoshitties website.

Re:no suprise (1)

detritus` (32392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671910)

as off topic as the original poster, but this guy seems to be more of a true innovator than a crony... he donated 200 million pounds to genetic research in crop disease resistance and is constantly funding both applied and pure science. Just the kind of person i would want as a science/technology minister.

Re:no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672471)

Sainsbury knows full well that claiming software "as such" will not be patentable under the councils directive is dishonest. Patents on gene sequencies "as such" in the UK were defeated by the Wellcome trust, a great victory no doubt. Sainsbury is a biotech patent holder, strong advocate of combining the state with industry and the single largest contributor to the Labour party.

Everything is completely above board, you are in safe hands. Buy a soda and remember, your unelected minister of science and technology has your best interests at heart.

Re:no suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12674872)

I believe this guy intends to give/use his wealth during his lifetime. In that sense he is similar to Linus. What if we gave him some free software ? Might he have a Damascene conversion ?

Technical Shmecnical (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671887)

Software patents are evil. The pro-monopoly lobby is using weasel words like "technical" to hide a loophole through which one can drive freight trains. 50,000 software patents have already been granted by the EPO on this flmsy basis. If you think your softare is protected by copyright, think again - the EPO, backed by legalistic mumbo-jumbo like "technical" has sold your work under the counter to a patent attorney.

Software patents are theft. No two ways about it. Patenting ideas and literary expressions is theft. Expropriation. Corruption.

The lady, and she knows who she is, who invented this particular weasel word will go down in history as a villain.

European Technology & Chinese Military (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671953)

The European directive should be modified to include a secrecy provision: if any technology has military usage, then access to the patent shall be denied unless the person or company wishing to view the patent application has a security clearance with the European Union.

Currently, the Chinese are aggressively modernizing their military [phrusa.org] . Access to these patents with military applications would help them to achieve their nefarious goals.

Re:European Technology & Chinese Military (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672079)

Yes, in fact, since most technology can in some way be used by [terrorists/the Chinese/aliens] for their nefarious purposes, we should just classify all patents. In fact, invention itself should be outlawed. Oh, and thinking too.

So, let's round up anyone with the ability to build a computer in their garage, and lock them away in a work camp to protect their important work from exploitation by [terrorists/the Chinese/aliens].

That will ensure that, wherever we are going in this handbasket, the military will be there with the resources it needs to protect us from [terrorists/the Chinese/aliens].

Because, if there's one thing that has enabled progress in the Western world, it's government bureaucracy along with suppression of technical knowledge by the military industrial complex.

Re:European Technology & Chinese Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12674635)

You have some great ideas. The problem is, the liberal, left-wing, communist socialist press would twist these concepts to make them sound evil. And, then, of course, the Ameican public, who are mostly left-wing nutcases who almost got their man in despite the Republicans best effort to make sure that the elections went the right way, may decide to object to such measures. That's why such things have to be introduced, slowly, subtley, possibly in response to manufactured crises such as 9/11.

Re:European Technology & Chinese Military (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672146)

The European directive should be modified to include a secrecy provision: if any technology has military usage, then access to the patent shall be denied unless the person or company wishing to view the patent application has a security clearance with the European Union.

Why? What business has the EU got interfering in military matters?

Europe is a Banana Republic! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672363)

and today, 55% of frogs noticed that the European climate is too cold to grow bananas. Heck, looks like it's even to cold for apples now. Way to go!

Re:Europe is a Banana Republic! (1)

rsynnott (886713) | more than 9 years ago | (#12694826)

A banana republic with the world's largest economy, and a banana republic which forced US chipmakers to stop using lead, among other things. Yep.

Re:Europe is a Banana Republic! (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 9 years ago | (#12695218)

A banana republic of which 9 countries out of 10 (so far) approved of a constitution which would make software patents constitutional (while, ironically enough, they are unconstitutional in the US, because they don't "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts")

It's not an apple republic though, because the French applefarmer didn't get his way, hehe ;-)

Hopefully, by this evening, it will be 2 out of 11 that will have made the reasonable choice!

Re:Technical Shmecnical (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672979)

Software patents are theft. No two ways about it. Patenting ideas and literary expressions is theft. Expropriation. Corruption.

Would you care to explain what theft has taken place? If crimes such as identity fraud and copyright infringment are not actually theft, I don't see how you can call this theft.

Proudhon (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673141)

Would you care to explain what theft has taken place? If crimes such as identity fraud and copyright infringment are not actually theft, I don't see how you can call this theft.
Is you'd read your Proudhon, you'd know the answer to that ;o)

The reason that it's different from the above examples is that it denies people use of the 'IP', whereas copyright infringment or 'identity theft' doesn't, but rather does the converse.

Whether it's actually theft is another matter, but it is different.

s/converse/opposite/ (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673170)

Bug in my above post.

Theft (3, Informative)

pieterh (196118) | more than 9 years ago | (#12675152)

The theft is this: the patent officer and patent attorney collaborate to create "property", the patent, using deliberately vague legalistic language that stakes a claim to an idea or domain of work.

In theory, this domain of work is entirely new and the patent is the basis for the investment necessary to exploit it.

In practice, and especially with software patents, no domain of work is truly innovative and no idea is original: rather, we create software by incredibly many incredibly small incremental steps. All creative work in programming is the result of community effort, which is why no-one can develop software in isolation. We need to be part of a community in order to create. To pretend otherwise is to lie, thus all software patent applications start with a falsehood, "I invented this".

To aquire a claim on a domain means that all others working in this domain lose the right to the fruit of their labour. Thus, you can literally see years or decades of hard work being captured and made someone else's property. Where software patents are granted, copyrights are being annulled without due process. Expropriation.

The only route to appeal is through the courts and this is impossible for the majority of people.

If someone steals my life savings, this is theft. If someone steals my life's work, this is theft. No difference except the latter is sponsored and protected by the bureaucrats who sell the patents in the first place.

It's very analagous with the way traditional common lands have been taken from those that lived on them and granted to wealthy newcomers through the use of legal documents backed up by the power of the state.

Basically the software industry has been hijacked.

Re:Technical Shmecnical (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12677301)

Patenting/Copyrighting something prevents the use and access of something to everyone except a select number of people or to limited number of scenarios. If that is done unethically (e.g. retroactive extensions to copyright/patent terms) it could be far closer to theft than copying something will ever be.

For example, if a work or idea is public domain (or is about to enter public domain) but some rich corporations bribe the lawmakers to change the laws so that work is no longer the public's or does not become the publics, then one can argue it has been stolen from the public. The public no longer have access to the work.

In contrast copying something is not theft, since the owners still have use and access of the originals. Copyright infringement is an illegal breach of a monopoly on copying of a particular work that was granted by the State.

Hope that makes things a bit clearer.

Re:Technical Shmecnical (1)

koko775 (617640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673000)

Someone ought to search for especially flimsy patents, hack up some infringing code, offer for free the full code online (under a OSS compatible license), and *sell* proprietary licenses to it. Of course, that person would need the EFF backing it up, but it would do well to prove a point, should the algorithms be simple enough: SOFTWARE PATENTS ARE STUPID.

Haiku (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671897)

This is a haiku, no?
Or is it really?
You all suck! Go away please!

Throughly undemocratic (5, Interesting)

xwildph (870208) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671936)

It's an absolute disgrace, that the UK media aren't covering this very important issue. The European council have disregarded the decision of the elected Parliament, and have tried to force this through.

Software patents are wrong, and incredibly dangerous territory for SME business. Larger companies may well be able to devend and enforce patents, but smaller players are likely to be unable to do so, and could be forced to lay off staff, raise prices, or even close down.

Software is simply a list of instructions. It is not a physical product. It should not therefore be patentable. Copyright protection is available to those who need it.

relevant links

XW

Re: Throughly undemocratic (1)

philbert26 (705644) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672161)

It's an absolute disgrace, that the UK media aren't covering this very important issue. The European council have disregarded the decision of the elected Parliament, and have tried to force this through.

Maybe the next draft of the EU constitution could introduce some real democracy to the EU institutions. I'm not going to hold my breath, though.

Re: Throughly undemocratic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672231)

Next draft of the EU constitution, don't make me laugh. Years and years of consultation went into this version, costing tens of millions of dollars. If this one doesn't work who do you think is going to stick their out to propose another?

The EU is not a state and doesn't need a constitution to exist. It'll limp along just fine with a voting system designed for an EU with 6 states, just a hell of a lot more bureaucractically...

Re: Throughly undemocratic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672403)

If this one doesn't work who do you think is going to stick their out to propose another?

IF it doesn't work? It's already been rejected by the French. On Wednesday it's going to be rejected by the Dutch. I can't see any chance of it being accepted by the Btitish, if they ever even vote on it. The current draft is dead, dead, dead.

Re: Throughly undemocratic (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672246)

In Demark there was a binding order from Parliament. But the responsible minister ignored it and they created a superficial and incredible theater piece. It had no consequences for the Minister responsible. Denmark is strange. In rotten Denmark the "Road to Europe" [greg.org] had no political consequences for Rasmussen, he did not step down. Similarly the representative was rescued by the social democrats. In other European states he would regarded as a criminal. Democracy in Denmark is soft, it is still a monarchy.
http://wiki.ffii.org/Dkparl050304En [ffii.org]
http://wiki.ffii.org/Cons050307En [ffii.org]
http://wiki.ffii.org/Navision050215En [ffii.org]
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic. php?t=439 [nosoftwarepatents.com]
http://osdir.com/Article629.phtml [osdir.com]

Re:Throughly undemocratic (4, Funny)

langarto (718855) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672271)

It's an absolute disgrace, that the UK media aren't covering this very important issue. The European council have disregarded the decision of the elected Parliament, and have tried to force this through.

Welcome to modern democracy.

We will let you vote, as long as what you vote doesn't matter, dear consumer.

Ideas it's about (1)

radix sum (868968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672490)

Software is simply a list of instructions. It is not a physical product. It should not therefore be patentable. Copyright protection is available to those who need it.
As being simply a list of instruction one could argue it's like a chemical molecul, a structure and therefore be patentable. However, software is also a bunch of implemented ideas. Not solely one idea but thousands of ideas. To protect your implementation of ideas there's copyright protection. It's not one idea that makes good software, however, lacking several ideas could be disastrous.

Re:Throughly undemocratic (2, Informative)

Lukesed (880145) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673354)

What many people are forgetting is that some of the most imporant software patents are expiring. Anything before 1987.

It seems to me... (1)

WayneTheGoblin (843267) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671950)

That maybe this proves it's time for politicians who make decisions to start listening to those in the know. It'll be better for everyone in the end.

Re:It seems to me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12672389)

it's time for politicians who make decisions to start listening to those in the no.

Indeed. There are not only yes-sayers in Europe...

A bit odd (5, Interesting)

boringgit (721801) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671963)

Strange thing this.

When I first heard about this whole software aptent issue, I wrote to my MP, who then forwarded my letter to a minister at the DTI.

He told me that the governments support for software patents was based soley on advice given by the UK Patent office.

If this is no longer the case, surely the government needs to reconsider.....

Re:A bit odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12671987)

I strongly suggest you should write them back, quoting their earlier mail and asking them to reconsider.

Re:A bit odd (5, Informative)

codehelp (690583) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672324)

I was at one of the UKPO workshops and we were promised a full report. The UKPO has now put the report on the workshops on the web as a PDF.
http://www.patent.gov.uk/about/ippd/issues/eurocom p/full_report.pdf [patent.gov.uk]

The UKPO clearly state that the purpose of the exercise from their perspective was to "find a definition that fits the current [case] law" -
sounds a lot like "decide what you want and make the facts conform afterwards".

2. The UKPO at least admit that none of the definitions - including the one in the Directive that the Council want to force through - actually fit even that limited remit.

This was inevitable and everyone on the FFII lists knew this in advance - nobody actually WANTS what the UKPO want. We need a change in the law and that can only come from supporting the European Parliament amendments and pushing for a complete restart of the entire directive.

Write again to that MP and point out that the government's own statements on software patents are NOT compatible with the results of the UKPO's own workshops. The government does need to reconsider and it does need to support the Parliament amendments. The UK government is under the impression that the directive maintains the status quo and they must now see that the workshops have blown that away. The UK government has said that it does NOT want to allow more than what is currently practiced by the UKPO and the UKPO themselves recognise that the current definition does NOT match that practice.

The Directive, as it currently stands, is MORE PERMISSIVE than the current law. The UKPO have NOT accepted this as their position on the directive, it is merely the opinion of those at the workshops. We need to drive home the message that the UKPO's own workshops showed that their recommendation, as embodied within the Directive, does NOT maintain the status quo - in direct
contravention of everything the UKPO has published on the Directive. The Directive, if passed in the version proposed by the EU Council, WILL move the
balance in FAVOUR of more software patents AND give ALL existing software patents the full force of European law. Additionally, a whole raft of NEW areas will also become patentable. "technical contribution" is a smoke-screen - it means absolutely nothing.

PO can't change? (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 9 years ago | (#12671976)

Of course the UKPO can change because the UK government is the UKPO. Lord Sainsbury, the minister responsible in the EU Council of Ministers, ordered the workshop series to be held. Software patent legislation is one example for legislation overtaken by administration in the interests of particular interests.

The UKPO has the most radical pratice in Europe, a vague definition of technical. Change has to take place. At least I expect Lord Sainsbury not to act against EU Parliament which is fixing the Uncommon Poisiton [ffii.org] .

What matters now is the European Parliament (3, Informative)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672003)

Now that the European Council has passed the directive against their own rules [ffii.org] , the opinions of the european governments no longer have any real power.

What matters now is what happens in the European Parliament. The expert hearing [ffii.org] they recently held or the amendments proposed [ffii.org] (pdf in english [eu.int] ) are a lot more interesting than a UK software patent workshop.

Re:What matters now is the European Parliament (3, Informative)

cortana (588495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672412)

> Now that the European Council has passed the directive against their own rules
> [ffii.org], the opinions of the european governments no longer have any real
> power.

You've been tricked! I'm the first to admit that my understanding of the situation is not 100% correct, however I think it's more or less on target....

The European Council (of Ministers) is made up of members of the various European governments. You don't realise this because when your government addresses you at home, it always talks about the EU Council as a separate body that hands down laws that your government is forced to implement.

They never mention that they are the EU Council.

The British council members are democratically elected (though they are still in favour of the CIID because Labour is shite). I don't know about other countries, but I understand that some have very strange arrangements, like Denmark for instance, where the (elected) parliament have no control over the (unelected) ministers, who sit on the council, making the rules.

The problem is that the idea of the European Parliament seems to be a charade designed to trick the masses into thinking they have direct control over the pan-EU government. The EU Parliament is really very weak. Some say the EU Constitution may fix this, and others say it will make the problem worse. I don't know myself--I tried to read the Draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution of Europe, but I only got to page 25 out of 400 or so before giving up...

In practice, the unelected EU Commission (liberally greased by Big Business, and featuring crooks like Peter Mandelson) makes up shitty laws, and the partially-elected, but unaccountable, European Council of Ministers nods them through.

When the public complain about said shitty laws, the government ministers then turn around and place the blame upon the very same council which they sit on, that passed the laws in question.

Meanwhile the Parliament flaps around, unable to do anything, because to overrule or alter the adoption of a directive by the Council, they need an overwhelmingly large absolute majority (something like 70% I think) at the Second Reading of a directive. Oh, and absentees and abstentions count in favour of the council. So it's even money if enough MEPs will even turn up to make a difference on the second reading of the CIID in about a month's time.

Basically, the EU's a Banana Republic [eu.int] . :(

How we do it in Denmark (2, Informative)

Deternal (239896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672848)

Just to clarify:
In Denmark there are general elections for parliament - we only have one in denmark, no upper house like many others.

This parliament decides on the cabinet (minister of state, minister of foreign affairs etc.).

The parliament also have different working groups - one of these working groups have to do with EU issues.

This group consisting of parliament members from all parties, is the group that gives the minister his mandate for his actions in the council.

So to say that it is undemocratic in denmark is far from the truth, in fact the parliament directly instructs the ministers on what to do in the council, while ie. in the UK the person is free to do as he pleases for his term.

Of course since some parts in the council are negotiation the meeting of this working group in the danish parliament is obviously secret untill after the meeting.

Re:How we do it in Denmark (2, Informative)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12675247)

This parliament decides on the cabinet (minister of state, minister of foreign affairs etc.).
This is not correct.

The democratically elected danish parliament (Folketinget) has no direct influence on the appointment of the government ministers. See article 14 in the danish constitution [folketinget.dk] : "The King shall appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister and the other Ministers."

But article 15 ("A Minister shall not remain in office after the Folketing has approved a vote of no confidence in him.") means that the danish parliament can sack any minister (or the whole government) with a simple majority vote.

What happens when a danish government has to be appointed is:

  • The leaders of the parties in parliament go to the Queen and each tell her who they would like as Prime Minister. This is only advisory, but helps the Queen appoint a stable government that the danish parliament is unlikely to sack.
  • The Queen appoints the Prime Minister.
  • The Prime Minister appoints the other ministers in the government.
  • The Queen approves the other ministers appointed.
When the software patent directive was adopted by the European Council on March 7th, Denmark sent their Minister of Economics Bendt Bendsen. Bendt Bendtsen was in a tight place: One one side, the danish parliament had asked him to ensure that the directive was not adopted at the Council meeting. But on the other side, Bill Gates had threatened to kill 800 danish jobs if Denmark opposed the software patent directive [nosoftwarepatents.com] . Bendt Bendtsen meakly asked that the directive should not be adopted without discussion or a vote. This request was rejected by the Council Presidency in violation of the Council rules. Instead of insisting, Bendt Bendtsen simply accepted the illegal rejection of his request.

Bendt Bendtsen could have been sacked by the danish parliament because of this, but he was lucky: One of the large parties in parliament turned around and accepted that he did not do what they asked him to do, and then the majority for sacking him was gone.

Re:What matters now is the European Parliament (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672960)

The British council members are democratically elected (though they are still in favour of the CIID because Labour is shite).

I feel obliged to point out that this depends on your definition of "democratically elected". I'm not sure a government that attracted only just over 1/5 of the vote at a general election really has a mandate to be making radical policy decisions over the complaints of the electorate, particularly when that "winning" party in fact lost the popular vote in England. The only other people we elect directly are our MEPs; the ministers etc. are all appointed by the ruling party.

Re:What matters now is the European Parliament (1)

mrogers (85392) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673149)

By your definition *all* the parties lost the popular vote, so who do you propose should form a government?

Re:What matters now is the European Parliament (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673396)

By your definition *all* the parties lost the popular vote

No; my definition of winning the popular vote is achieving more votes than any other party.

The point is that one party did win in this sense. The problem is that that party isn't the one currently forming the government, and nor is any proportionate combination of representatives that reflects the spread of votes.

Letters to MEPs (2, Interesting)

seanellis (302682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672010)

Anyone who writes to their MEP on this issue, why not post a link here to how you got on?

My original letter [ntlworld.com] only got a handful of replies. Let's see how a new letter gets on...

Re:Letters to MEPs (3, Interesting)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672138)

After having seen the amendments proposed [ffii.org] (pdf in english [eu.int] ), I would not send a letter like that to any MEP.

Most of these amendments are meant to ensure that software might be part of a patentable invention, while the software as such cannot be patented.

If I was going to write my MEP today, I would urge them to support Michel Rocards amendmends, while opposing the amendmends by Toine Manders and Malcolm Harbour (the last two being "IP" policy extremists with little support in the Parliament anyway). And I would urge them to vote on this matter, as an absolute majority is needed for the Parliament to do anything now.

Re:Letters to MEPs (3, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672428)

This might seem unrelated but, I actually met with my MP at a dinner setup by my employers for other reasons (they are big supporters of his locally) and so far I have managed to get him to raise the Regulation of Investigatory Powers act issues with the party leadership after actually shocking him with the actual details of the RIP bill (shifting of the burden of proof of innocence, secret evidence, contradicting the Misuse of Computers act etc) and he asked me for any further info in writing, which he passed onto a select committee who have raised it further - as I understand it, its due to be discussed in Parliament within the next 3 months, which is fantastic proof that your MP *can* work for you.

Re:Letters to MEPs (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672475)

Yeah, your MP can work for you - but only if you can get his attention.

What about representing the people who's employers AREN'T big supporters ? How do we get a look in ?

Re:Letters to MEPs (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672562)

I spoke to him as a seperate individual, as Im just a bitplayer in the company I work for - he had no reason to do anything other than say 'send the info over, I shall look it over'. I sent him a fax on another subject a few years ago through the writetothem.com service (or faxyourmp.org.uk as it was then), he replied to me via letter, and held a 7 letter long discussion with myself on the subject, so I consider my MP to be one that works for everyone.

Re:Letters to MEPs (4, Interesting)

Mr Smidge (668120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672571)

I wrote a letter to my local MP, and a few London MEPs. With the exception of one conservative MEP, all the responses I got were actually quite positive!

My local MP (conservative) commented:
"After .. dealing with EU directives and regulations, a high proportion like this are actually damaging to business. As you observe, the Commission has scant respect from democracy."

He took the issue up with the secretary of state for trade and industry, but no reply. After the general election, he's no longer my MP, and I have yet to contact the new one.

To summarise the reponses from the London MEPs I made contact with:

Sarah Ludford (Lib Dem) - Echoed the official Lib Dem stance of "support[ing] continued widespread innovation in software by resisting the wider application of patents in this area".

Robert Evans (Labour) - Oppose software patents, and powerfully stated, "Patents and the threat of litigation must not be used as an anti-competitive weapon to squeeze out small companies", and "Open source software must be allowed to flourish and the Commission must ensure that this Directive does not have any adverse effect on OSS and small software developers".

Theresa Villiers (Conservative) - Received a particularly personal response indicating that she shared my worries on the issue, and assured me that she would continue to oppose software patents.

Charles Tannock (Conservative) - Oh dear, there's always one. Dr. Tannock claimed that the Directive would clarify the existing situation and not allow pure software patents. He also challenged my statements of the harmful effects on OSS and small businesses, and asked me for my evidence. He had clearly not read the Directive text itself.

I wrote back a rather scathing letter, quoting the Directive text itself, and providing numerous references of the negative effects. I presented it all very clearly in a way that he couldn't ignore. After that, I got back a half-amusing reply, saying that the points I raised were beyond his technical expertise. He supposedly forwarded my letter to another MEP, but I haven't heard anything since.

It seems that, on the whole, the British Politicians aren't clueless. The suspicious progress that this Directive has made has got to be due to corporate lobbying efforts.

It really is down to the EP to make sure this Directive doesn't get made law, otherwise I might be forced to start voting UKIP (heaven forbid).

Re:Letters to MEPs (1)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672793)

You should be very careful about interpreting the replies you get. The letters coming from the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative politicians are often stock replies, either wholly or partially drafted by the respective party advisors on this issue. They may sound positive and even strongly anti-swpat but in each case the respective advisor is in the hard pro-software patent camp. Sharon Bowles (Lib Dem advisor), for example, is a patent attorney. The letters so drafted are simply expressing more or less sophisticated variations of the obfuscation and deceit we have had to put up with from the beginning. If your MEPs are taking their advice from these people, they will likely do so when it comes to voting on the amendments too, and if that happens, they may as well have taken their advice from Bruce Lehman.

Re:Letters to MEPs (1)

Mr Smidge (668120) | more than 9 years ago | (#12675105)

The letters coming from the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative politicians are often stock replies ..

Indeed, that was the impression I got with my reply from Sarah Ludford (LD).

However, the letters from Theresa Villiers and Robert Evans definitely did not seem like stock letters, which I appreciate. Although neither one said in those exact words that they would vote, they both did say that they would fight against the pro-swpat group. That's still a plus to me.

It's amazing how politicians can write 2-3 pages of dense text without actually saying anything, isn't it?

"too liberal" (1)

tota (139982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12672611)

"the definition of technical contribution in the directive is "ambiguous and too liberal", the UKPO said."

I am glad they listened to what most of us told them (well the lawyers seemed to have a different opinion on this, but eh..) - I was at one of the London workshops.


"If an opportunity arises to discuss amendments to the directive, it is worth considering that there may be an advantage in changing the definition of technical contribution," said Probert.

Translates to: don't hold your breath!
It is going to be extremely difficult to change the text without new voting arrangements and with France rejecting the new constitution about 1 hour ago, we are unlikely to see that either - not soon anyway.

how the definition might be changed - UKPO comment (1)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673283)

> "If an opportunity arises to discuss amendments to the directive, it is worth considering that there may be an advantage in changing the definition of technical contribution," said Probert.

> Translates to: don't hold your breath!

This possibility was raised at the workshop I attended - but when I asked how this might happen, the answer was that the post-election government could conceivably decide that the definition of "technical contribution" needed to change, and support amendments to that effect in the European Parliament.

These changes would still need a lot of votes, but with enough governmental support this could be easier to achieve.

Therefore it might be helpful to raise the issue with the DTI as well as with your MEPs.

The Gravity of the Abstract matter... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 9 years ago | (#12673010)

Given the fundamental nature of software, software simply is not patentable, not even in connection to some hardware IP.

This is a matter of physical phenomenon, natural law, abstract ideas and you can even throw in a few more like mathmatical algorythims.

Economically its all about which is the better method of instilling advancement. Although GNU is ten years behind the likes of MS, its clear that it has been playing an important part in instilling advancement, as MS would likely be much lazier and anti-competitive than they are today.

Economically there is no validated arguement for software patents.And there is a reason there never will be,

What is really rather crazy about all of this is that copyright, though not as wide scope in "protected claims" is longer term. A trade off perhaps but with proper fair use terms copyright really is more inline with teh nature of software.

However, by imposing software patents you can effectively prevent proof against the model inclusive of software patents. As in "how do you know it could have been better?"

Its really rather interesting that now that there is some real competition in software there is interest in suppressing it via the passing of software patents.

Software is NOT patentable. This is a fact of natural law, physical phenomenon, abstract ideas (what is in fact a human quality we all have a right to and a duty and expectation to apply - the use of higher level abstractions).

You can deny gravity with all the politics and religion and even business you can muster up, but the planet is still going to be round and its still going to revolve around the sun. And when you step off the cliff, you are going to fall to your death via gravity. No matter how much you try and mentally deny it.

Likewise, the creation of the illusion that software is patentable is a mental handicap, as was the idea of the earth being flat and the center of the universe.

I have no doubt that those who do not want to understand this, simply have decided not to.

Anyone who would consider a compromise against the forces of physics, nature and higher level abstract thinking and communication, will suffer the consequence of a mental handicap it will cause them.

If you do not want to accept the zero place holder and the decimal system over the roman numeral system, then you will be limited, on a low level mental foundation, of what math you can perform, not to mention being in denial of the mathmatical calculation required to create a computer, or even something far simpler like flipping the power switch from 0 to 1.

Anyone who wants proof of this unpatentability of software, metaphorically speaking, needs to stop believing this illusion that nothing cannot have value (re: zero place holder). But learn to know that anything you think or do can be automated, programmed..... including the automation of the creation of software itself. That automating software creation is no different than automating anything else, but probably simpler, due to the base material of software.... binary notation
(an abstract material of which the supply of is not "YET" limited).

Only illusion (abstraction) and agreement upon it, can cause a false limit, a mental handicap.

There are element of physics, nature and human quality abstraction which enable control points to be established anywhere in what you think and do. These are common and identified, they are not patentable, or even copyrightable, for they are a part of existance nobody can own.

The illusion of software patents will accumulate untill the build up leads to good sounding arguement that these elements are patentable, basicaly telling the population of the world that they either can't exist or that they must pay you royalities for their existance......or until these element are put into the essence of their sum ability in enabling far more to commonly program or cause the computer to program what they tell it to. -- in essence eliminating "novel" and the likes from the patentability equasion.

Software patents will only be able to maintain the illusion they need to fool the people, so long as the people are kept believing programming (automating) is and has to be more difficult than the majority of the population can do.

To fool the people in such a way is in fact a major act of consumer fraud, anti-trust and anti-advancement intent.

Go ahead and walk off that cliff, believe gravity doesn't exist.... you will most certainly die.... because you have contributed to an illusion that supports the prevention of the continuation of your own life, via keeping people of the population in many many industries and fields ignorant of what they can do, and what the accumulative result of what they then could have done, could have achieved.

But you do get a prize almost as good as life ... you get to redundantly, recursively, "NOT KNOW."

Also see- Software: Abstraction Physics [ffii.org] and Virtual Interaction Configuration for KNM & General Automation. [threeseas.net]

Cover the world with 'prior art' (1)

Quiberon (633716) | more than 9 years ago | (#12674243)

One way to attempt to handle this is to make sure there's plenty of material around which may well be 'prior art', i.e. demonstrably invented before any patent.

My contribution is to put a pile of 'Live Linux for Windows' CDs here Linux-for-Windows [btconnect.com]

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think they make great executive toys.

Chris

Placing both goalposts at same end of the feild! (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12675496)

I think it is rather signifigant to understand how the UK patent office set this up. They tested various patent law proposals against various hypothetical patent applications. The test cases they used were divided into three catagories. Catagory A test cases were 5 "clearly be patentable" examples, catagory B test cases were 5 "clearly be unpatentable" examples, and catagory C was 4 borderline-but-patentable tests and 4 borderline-but-unpatentable tests.

According to UK patent office's review rules, for a patent law proposal to rate well it would need to consistantly and clearly pass the (ahem) easy and clear A tests as patentable. Lets not even worry about the borderline C tests and invalid-patent B tests and just review those 5 A tests, shall we?

VALID patent test #1: [patent.gov.uk]

Presumably prior state of the art: We have traffic lights and road sensors.

The technical contribution, aka the new invention: If we collect the information from them then we can hire a programmer and ask him to figure out some way to improve traffic flow, and then we can send that out to the traffic lights.

My oppinion: Had he written this as a patent for improving traffic devices by adding send/receive capabilities, I would say that is seriously lame but *maybe* patentable if you set the patentability standards abysmally low.

But that isn't what this patent is trying to claim, that isn't how it's written. This patent is claiming to be a process to improve traffic flow. This patent is claiming the idea of hiring a programmer and ASKING HIM to figure out a way of improving traffic flow. This patent application wants to own any solution any programmer ever comes up with to improve traffic flow, even though the patent applicant has no idea how to do so and he offers no suggestions on how to do so. He wants to own any solution anyone else comes up with.

VALID patent test #2: [patent.gov.uk]

Presumably prior state of the art: We have chemical sensors to detect toxins in the air, and those sensors are often connected to various sorts of networks and alarms.

The technical contribution, aka the new invention: If there is any sort of processor in the system, it's going to need to scan across the sensor data looking for matches. This patent wants to own the idea of scanning across the data looking for matches.

My oppinion: All I can say here is that the UK Patent office are morons.

VALID patent test #3: [patent.gov.uk]

Presumably prior state of the art: Cell phones send and receive wireless messages.

The technical contribution, aka the new invention: You can stick an encryption chip in there to encrypt/decrypt each message as it is sent/received. Oh, by the way you can use the caller's number and the callees'number and the date&time as part of choosing the encryption password. Oh, and according to the patent this is not an "encryption chip", it is a "discombobulation device".

My oppinion: I say we give this guy a patent on the NAME "discombobulation device", it's the most inventive thing in there.

VALID patent test #4: [patent.gov.uk]

Presumably prior state of the art: I don't know, something like 'wheels work better if you make them more round' I guess.

The technical contribution, aka the new invention: You can brighten a dark photograph by scanning it and multiplying and reprinting it.

My oppinion: Did I mention that the UK Patent office were morons?

VALID patent test #5: [patent.gov.uk]

Presumably prior state of the art: Cable TV boxes contain computers, and according to the patent application "The installation of software onto a computer is known to be difficult to achieve."

The technical contribution, aka the new invention: Step 1: look at the subscription package for each subscriber and decide what software they should get. Step 2: send that software. Step 3: install only the software that isn't already installed. Step 4: wait for the device to be turned off, then reboot when it it turned back on.

My oppinion: My patent and my technical contribution: "Changing clothes difficult to achieve." Step 1: Check whether you are traveling to Alasaka or Hawaii. Step 2: pack appropriately. Step 3: unpack. Step 4: wait till you go to sleep, then reboot into the new clothes when you wake up. There, I have made a technical contribution to the state of the art in a technical feild.

Each of these tests that a patent law proposal "fails" counts as a negative mark in the final analysis. The UK patent on the pro-software-patent side of the battle, and for this competition they picked up the goalposts and stuck them both at one end of the field. These "A" test goalposts are just stupid.

-

Re:Placing both goalposts at same end of the feild (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12725731)

VALID patent test #1: Presumably prior state of the art: We have traffic lights and road sensors. The technical contribution, aka the new invention: If we collect the information from them then we can hire a programmer and ask him to figure out some way to improve traffic flow, and then we can send that out to the traffic lights. My oppinion: Had he written this as a patent for improving traffic devices by adding send/receive capabilities, I would say that is seriously lame but *maybe* patentable if you set the patentability standards abysmally low. But that isn't what this patent is trying to claim, that isn't how it's written. This patent is claiming to be a process to improve traffic flow. This patent is claiming the idea of hiring a programmer and ASKING HIM to figure out a way of improving traffic flow. This patent application wants to own any solution any programmer ever comes up with to improve traffic flow, even though the patent applicant has no idea how to do so and he offers no suggestions on how to do so. He wants to own any solution anyone else comes up with.
Quote from the site:
Claim:_
A system for dynamically optimising traffic flow along a highway by creating a traffic light control program from sensed data comprising: Means for obtaining data from sensors relating to traffic along said highway; Means for transmitting the collected data to a central control system; Means for analysing the collected data at the control system to generate a control program for traffic lights on the highway;[...]
No, this is even worse. If I read this correctly, they want to patent means ... to generate a control program , so this means they want to patent the programmer himself, education and all. And to think we were concerned about patenting mere dna!

define that pure software cannot infringe a patent (1)

gfim (452121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12733306)

As much as I would like to see an accurate and bulletproof definition that prevents software-only patents from being granted, I'm not very hopeful that this will happen. One thing that I believe can dramatically reduce the effect of software patents is a definition that says that it is not possible for pure software to infringe a patent. In fact, no data stored on computer media (source code, binary code, data files, documents etc.) should be allowed to be an infringement. This is very easy to define and will prevent most of the patent misuse. If anybody is writing to MPs etc., please include this as part of your letter.

Graham
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