|| ||Jonas Maebe <jmaebe-AT-ffii.org>|
|| ||FFII reaction to software patents/Red Hat controversy|
|| ||Wed, 5 Jul 2006 17:03:09 +0200|
|| ||eboard <eboard-AT-ffii.org>|
(Enlarged board of the FFII in CC)
After reading some reactions at http://lwn.net/Articles/189693/ and
seeing the way the FFII is being implicated in the ensuing
discussion, we would like to make the statement you can find below.
Board member of the FFII
We, the board and membership of the FFII, who fought alongside many
firms (including Red Hat) against software patents last year, and who
are continuing the fight against software patents today, would like
to state that:
1. During the second reading of the software patents directive last
year, 21 compromise
amendments (21CA) were tabled by MEPs following Rocard
(Socialists), Buzek/Roithová (Christian Democrats) and Duff
(Liberals), and also by the Greens, GUE/NGL and IND/DEM as groups.
These amendments went straight against the Commission and Council's
attempt to turn current EPO practice into law. The FFII fully
supported these amendments.
2. Until the last minute, the FFII's strategy was to support both
those amendments and rejection: we recommended both on the
voting lists [PDF] we distributed to MEPs.
Other people on our side chose to support only one of these options
for either strategic or political reasons. The FFII considered both
options a very good outcome, and would like to thank everyone who
helped no matter which option they promoted.
3. The pro software patent lobby decided, on the eve of the vote, to
start pushing for rejection rather than risk any of the 21CA being
approved. This was in part thanks to the dual strategy of lobbying
for both the amendments and for rejection: they were afraid that the
21CA would be approved, so they chose their second best option which
happened to be fine for us as well (and MEPs knew that both were fine
4. The lobbying by ourselves and others in favour of the 21CA by
definition implied a position "to keep the software patent directive
alive". This does not mean that these people, us included, were in
favour of software patents.
5. In the end, only the MEPs had the decision taking power. The MEPs
on our side were strong thanks to the widespread support which our
platform enjoyed (SMEs, academics, IT professionals, the open source
community, ...). Whether companies, organisations and individuals
decided to formulate their support for our platform by promoting the
21CA, rejection or both was up to them as far as the FFII is concerned.
6. The final decision was dictated by on the one hand the balance of
power within the political groups, and on the other the hand the
unhappiness all MEPs shared about the Commission refusing their two
restart requests. Rejection was therefore the ultimate compromise,
and at the same time a strong signal towards the EPO stating "we are
not turning your current practice into European law".
7. In conclusion: in July 2005 the FFII position was supported by Red
Hat and Mark Webbink, and we have no reason to believe we no longer
have their support today on the topic of software patents.
This side issue is regrettable and badly timed, considering that the
EU Commission is planning to launch the next round of their pro
software patents campaign next week in Brussels, promoting the European
Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA). The EPLA is an attempt to
undo the work achieved last year in Parliament, and to institute
software patents through the back door, by enforcing EPO case law
across all Europe.
In a nutshell, the EPLA would remove all current national patent
courts, put one European-wide patent court in its place and have the
people currently running the EPO appoint its judges every six years.
We therefore call upon all parties to work with the FFII to continue
the fight against software patents in Europe and abroad and to
support us this year, as they did last year, against the lobbyists of
the patent establishment.
In the long term, the way forward is clear: build on the 21CA, and the related 10 core clarifications, to reinstate a
proper basis for patent law and to avoid its extension into economic
areas where it does not work. At the same time, the EPO must be
opened up so it is no longer exclusively controlled by the patent
establishment, as otherwise we keep trying to save a tree while
letting the forest burn.
The Board and Membership of the FFII
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