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  1. #1
    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Birmingham - UK

    EU software directive - take action!

    Hello all,

    Today I received the following e-mail about possible software patents (apologies for the long post). It's very UK focused, but if this goes ahead in Europe it will spread and you might find that Linux gets squashed!

    Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 00:09:44 -0000 (GMT)
    Subject: [SWPAT] Update: EU Council may rush Directive; follow-up letters needed

    [SWPAT] Update: EU Council may rush Directive; follow-up letters needed

    Dear Supporter [1]

    Software Patents: Campaign Update.

    1 Your letters change UK position
    2 Council of Ministers' Working Group meets November 19
    3 A damning report from the FTC
    4 What you can do

    1. Your letters change UK position
    Originally, the UK delegation proposed the adoption of the harmful
    November 2002 draft[2]. By 23 October, they had decided that it should
    not be repeated. This is the clearest visible effect of your letters. UK
    ministers have overruled the UK Patent Office (UKPO) and may now listen
    to our comments.

    So far, ministers have received hundreds of your letters forwarded
    byMPs. That has been enough to make them stop and think. But ministers
    need toreceive even more letters if we are to convince them on the issues.
    Everyletter really does count.

    2. Council of Ministers' Working Group meets November 19

    The patent expert working group of the Council of Ministers meets on 19
    November to prepare a list of which amendments might be acceptable to
    the Council. The EU Commission's preliminary recommendations are not good:

    Detailed analysis:

    The EU Commission and the Presidency have asked the member states'
    ambassadors (the CoRePer 1 committee) to put the working group report
    onto the agenda for the Competitiveness Council of Ministers' meeting on 27 November, to try to rush the Directive through before next year's
    European Parliament elections.

    Unless CoRePer can be convinced otherwise this week, the EU governments may simply rubber-stamp a pro-patent package prepared on 19 November, without any detailed political discussion or economic analysis.

    3. A damning report from the FTC

    Meanwhile, in the USA, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has
    released its long-awaited report on the interface between patent policy and
    competition policy, "To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of
    Competition and Patent Law and Policy".

    Its discussion of software patents is devastating: the positive
    effects of software patents are questionable at best, but they create a
    competition nightmare -- and competition, not patentability, is what drives
    innovation in this sector.

    Extensive extracts from the report can be found at

    The full report (300 pages) can also be downloaded, from

    4. What you can do

    Keep on writing. This is really making an impact.

    -- If you have already written to your MP, please write/fax again,
    thanking them for their previous promt reply, and updating them about the

    You may also like to tell them about the FTC report and send them some
    of the extracts.

    -- If you have not already written to your MP, we really need your help
    to explain to them why software patents are such a bad idea. See:
    respectively for more detail on the latest situation, general material
    on the dangers of software patents and advice on how to be most effective.

    But write soon. Coreper will be meeting some time this week to decide
    how to proceed with the directive. We have to influence MPs and the
    Government on how to instruct the UK's representative before then.

    In particular, you should ask MPs to urge the Minister:--

    * not to rush the Directive, but to take the time to get the right

    * to ask the Working Group to produce an 'issues and options'
    suitable for domestic political discussion, instead of a bare list of
    acceptable and unacceptable amendment numbers.

    * to consider asking Coreper to attach as a technical advisor to the
    patent expert group someone to ensure good communication and an
    accurate representation of those most worried by the directive. The reputation of the working party has suffered from the suggestion that it only reflects the interests of patent professionals and ignores other stakeholders.

    You can find out which MP you should write to by entering your postcode
    in the form on the website

    Please copy letters sent to
    uk-parl-sent @ and MP replies to uk-parl-replies @
    It's really helpful if you could put the MP name and consituency in the
    subject line, eg "Second letter to Sue Doughty MP (Guildford)".

    Every letter counts. Yours could be the one which tips the scales.


    [1] You have been sent this email because you have expressed concern
    about software patents in Europe, either by signing the
    and/or the FFII Call for Action
    We intend to use these lists very occasionally, to send updates
    and information alerts on the progress of the software patent
    directive through the European system. Such messages will have
    [SWPAT] as the first word in their subject lines.

    If you would prefer not to receive any more such messages,
    send a reply to this email with the subject line "Remove".
    Thank you for your support.

    Swpat-uk mailing list
    I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

  2. #2
    Since 7 months this post is now in this forum and not a lonely single response. Nothing.
    Even if many people might think they cant help it anyway, i would at least have expected an active discussion of the problems or anything else but silence. Is the subject so difficult to understand?
    In fact its very simple. If you dont do anything you will soon have a linux distribution without support for most of these features:
    • mp3
    • video (any! playback,editing etc.)
    • proprietary formats like (doc,excel etc.)
    • gif/jpeg (gif was allready taken out of gimp because of a patent!)
    • GUI components (progress bars, some kinds of buttons, editing help and many others)
    • and the list goes on....

    Still not clear that swpats are a threat to (not only free software but) all software developers ?

    If you dont want to help then at least go here and sign these petitions: (you need to make a basic registration in order to sign the "call for action" so that there are no faked or double signs)

    Join the FFII here:
    and find out how to help

    GNU/linux needs action now!


  3. #3
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Northwestern New Jersey
    Not to sound difficult, but how does this affect everyone? It sounds more like a European problem to me personally. How would this affect me as an American? I'm curious to know, cause I'm not sure. Will European pantents really affect my distro? And how can that actually work being that I am an American, they can't set standards for everyone.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    If this is mainly an american board there might not be as much motivation sure. And as an american you cant help the european issue anyway. But since software developers are the target of these patents all software that was patented in america was just moved outside of the US until now. So you might think it looks like no problem still.

    But as soon as most of the worlds countries accept software patents it is likely that nobody anywhere will develop software, that opposes one of the big companies, anymore. And especially GNU/linux software that can be used to work with their file formats are not welcome. See MPlayer and lots of MP3-software as well as graphics file formats and filecompression algos for typical examples. Those programs would then most likely be no more available for recent file formats in america as well. So in some way the european issue has influences on the US. If the EU wont accept swpats the US might be sooner or later be forced to think about the patent issue again and consider dropping it for the sake of an economic development speed up.


  6. #5
    For a much more detailed explanation of the issue in general i can recommend the archives of the american FSF, initiator of the GNU movement and therefore originator of what we mostly call "linux".


  7. #6

    what's the status quo?

    hi there, got to see this post after long time, in a way was happy to get informed.
    so what is the current state of patenting in europe and/or america? with MS patenting double-clicks and who knows the angle with which i see my monitor, how does the newbie linux community stay informed/aware of these appreciable movements and their effect?

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