Poland has tipped the scales by voting against the proposed text agreed to by the EU Council in May. A majority now opposes the current proposal. Those supporting the proposal now lack the votes to pass the proposal as written. NoSoftwarePatents.com has a translation of what the Polish government has posted on its website:
"The Council of Ministers (it means the _polish_ council of ministers, not EU) took position on the project of the directive of the European Parliament and Council about patentability of computer-implemented inventions.
"Because of numerous ambiguity and contradictions respecting the current directive project, Poland cannot support the text which was accepted in the vote of the Council on 18 may 2004.
"Simultenously Poland definetly is for unabigous regulations which would guarantee that computer-implemented inventions would be patentable. But beyond any doubt a computer program or portions thereof will not be patentable."
Heise has it in German. The Inquirer has it in English.
In a joint press release from FFII, NoSoftwarePatents.com, and Internet Society Poland, we learn that shining the light on FUD does help:
"The Polish government explained that it would 'definitely' support 'unambiguous regulations' but not a directive under which the functionality of computer programs could be patented.The EU Commission and various governments of other EU member countries claimed that the legislative proposal would not allow for the patentability of programs that run on an average personal computer. However, at a meeting hosted by the Polish government on the 5th of this month, everyone including representatives of the Polish Patent Office, SUN, Novell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, as well as various patent lawyers, confirmed that the present proposal of the EU Council does make all software potentially patentable."
Here is the joint press release.
FFII, Internet Society Poland and NoSoftwarePatents.com
Joint Press Release
Poland Does Not Support Current Proposal for EU Software Patent Directive
Official statement on government website after cabinet meeting: "Poland cannot support the text which was agreed upon by the EU Council" - Political agreement of May 18th on a proposed directive can no longer be formally adopted as the common position of the EU Council
Warsaw, 17 November 2004. Subsequently to a cabinet meeting, the Polish government officially declared yesterday evening that "Poland cannot support the text that was agreed upon by the EU Council on May 18th, 2004" as a proposal for a "directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions". Consequently, the EU Council is unable to formally adopt that legislative proposal as its common position. Without the support of Poland, those countries that supported the proposal in May now fall short of a qualified majority by 16 votes. New voting weights took effect in the EU on the 1st of this month.
After extensive consultations with organizations of IT professionals and the Polish Patent Office, the Polish cabinet concluded that the proposal at hand does not achieve the stated goals of limiting patents on software and business methods in Europe. The Polish government explained that it would "definitely" support "unambiguous regulations" but not a directive under which the functionality of computer programs could be patented. The EU Commission and various governments of other EU member countries claimed that the legislative proposal would not allow for the patentability of programs that run on an average personal computer. However, at a meeting hosted by the Polish government on the 5th of this month, everyone including representatives of the Polish Patent Office, SUN, Novell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, as well as various patent lawyers, confirmed that the present proposal of the EU Council does make all software potentially patentable.
Last week, the permanent representative of the Netherlands to the European Union had declared that the Council, which is currently under a Dutch presidency, would aim to refer its common position on the software patent directive to the European Parliament in mid December. The EU Council will now have to renegotiate the legislative proposal instead of being able to formally ratify the invalidated political agreement of May 18th. The formal ratification had been delayed, officially due to a shortage of translation resources.
Jan Macek of FFII Poland said: "Countries such as Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark and Italy had called for changes similar to the amendments made by the European Parliament, but those were rejected by the then-Irish presidency. They now have a chance to propose their amendments again, with support from Poland. That will help bring the directive more in line with the European Parliament which took the position of clearly disallowing software and business method patents."
Wladyslaw Majewski, president of the Internet Society of Poland, emphasized the economic and societal implications of software patents: "The questionnable compromise that the EU Council reached in May was the biggest threat ever to our economic growth, and to our freedom of communication. The desire of the patent system and the patent departments of certain large corporations must never prevail over the interests of the economy and society at large."
The political agreement of the EU Council had been under heavy criticism ever since it was announced on May 18th. Politicians from all parts of the democratic spectrum, small and medium-sized enterprises, software developers and economists called on the EU Council to reconsider its position. Deutsche Bank Research and PriceWaterhouseCoopers had expressly warned of the negative consequences to European IT companies, to innovation, and to the ability of the EU to achieve the goals set out in its Lisbon Agenda. On July 1st, the Dutch parliament passed a resolution that its government change the position of the Netherlands from support to an abstention. On October 21st, all four groups in the German parliament spoke out against software patents and the legislative proposal in question, and introduced different motions to that effect.
The aforementioned statement by the Polish government is available on a government website:
An overview of the old and the new set of voting weights in the EU Council was published earlier by the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign:
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=97 (press release)
http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/docs/041101qm.pdf (overview and analysis)
About the Foundation for a Free Information Infastructure (FFII)
The FFII is the leading non-governmental organization that opposes the
patentability of software. It has been mandated by tens of thousands of
individuals, among them an estimated 3,000 CEOs of companies, to represent
their interests in the political process on an EU software patent directive.
For more information, please check out http://en.eu.ffii.org/
The website of the Polish representation of FFII: http://www.ffii.org.pl/
About Internet Society (ISOC) Poland
For information on ISOC Poland, please check out this Web page:
For information on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is independent
from FFII, please check out this Web page: