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News of 2003noEPatents 03-06-22JURI 03-06-17EP 03-09-29EP 03-10-01Consilium 03-10-23

Vote in 8 days: 2000 IT bosses ask European Parliament to say NO to software patents
Brussels, Munich and Amsterdam 2003/06/22
For immediate Release

A "Petition for a Free Europe without Software Patents" has gained more than 150000 signatures. Among the supporters are more than 2000 company owners and chief executives and 25000 developpers and engineers from all sectors of the European information and telecommunication industries, as well as more than 2000 scientists and 180 lawyers. Companies like Siemens, IBM, Alcatel and Nokia lead the list of those whose researchers and developpers want to protect programming freedom and copyright property against what they see as a "patent landgrab". Currently the patent policy of many of these companies is still dominated by their patent departments. These have intensively lobbied the European Parliament to support a proposal to allow patentability of "computer-implemented inventions" (recent patent newspeak term which usually refers to software in the context of patent claims, i.e. algorithms and business methods framed in terms of generic computing equipment), which the rapporteur, UK Labour MEP Arlene McCarthy, backed by "patent experts" from the socialist and conservative blocks, is trying to rush through the European Parliament on June 30, just 13 days after she had won the vote in the Legal Affairs Committe (JURI).

The European Parliament parliament's plenary will decide on a draft report on the European Commission's software patentability directive proposal COM(2002)92 on monday, June 30th. Hartmut Pilch explains on behalf of Eurolinux, an alliance of associations and companies from all European countries and all sectors of the European software industry:

If the European Parliament accepts this report, even with amendments, it will not only find itself in complete contradiction with public opinion, as expressed in the largest online petition on IT matters which the world has seen so far. It would also be in contradiction with its own proclaimed aims. The result of passing the McCarthy Directive Proposal would be that "Amazon One Click Shopping" indisputably becomes a patentable invention, and that more than 20000 broad and trivial software and business method patents, which have been granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) against the letter and spirit of the written law, will no longer be contestable in court, except with rock-solid evidence of prior art.
Reinier Bakels from the Insitute for Information Law of Amsterdam University, author of a study on the software patent directive, says:
Now it is up to the European Parliament to decide on a highly controversial proposal for a directive for software patents. The JURI proposal aims at improving clarity. It should have at last defined clearly what is patentable and what not. But in reality it is a bunch of magic formulas that even legal experts do not understand. In particular for small and medium sized software developers it is a disaster. A patent infringement claim can ruin such a company. It is to be hoped that the European Parliament understands this if they vote about the proposed directive in a few days.
Dr. Karl Friedrich Lenz, professor of European Law in Tokyo, comments:
If the European Parliament follows JURI in ignoring public opinion and all scientific studies, we will see large license payments from the European to the American software industry, lots of litigation based on software patents, Internet patents and business method patents, and some very unfavorable effects for open source software. And introducing a large number of new monopoly rights in the information society sector certainly won't help with the EU strategic goal "to become the most competitive and knowledge-based economy in the world."

For more statements, please read our documentation JURI votes for Fake Limits on Patentability.

Since the wording in the entry "profession" is free for everyone to chose, aggregation was difficult. We can only state minimal numbers here.

positionnumber (minimum)
company owner, chief executive (CEO), managing director2000
CTO, head of IT, head of R&D2100
programmer, software/system architect/engineer/designer/analyst23000
scientist, researcher etc2600
professor (mainly computer science, mathematics, physics)400
lawyer180
Germany29773
France27047
Spain13120
Italy9673
United Kingdom9385
Denmark5141
Netherlands5041
Belgium4587
Sweden4355
Poland3195
Austria3262
Switzerland3090
Finnland2732
Czechia1503
Norway1497
Hungary1386
Portugal1128
Ireland911
Greece563
Luxemburg287
Below you find the number of employees of some major companies and institutions who signed the petition. Note that 2/3 of the signatories did not specify their employer.

comany
Siemens231
CNRS220
IBM156
INRIA114
Cap Gemini Ernst & Young108
Alcatel99
France Telecom97
Ericsson94
Epita92
Hewlett Packard (HP)85
Helsinki University of Technology78
Nokia74
RWTH Aachen (Aachen Technical University)78
SuSE67
ETH Zurich (Zurich Technical University)61
Deutsche Telekom AG59
Sun Microsystems58
University of Cambridge56
Philips54
University of Helsinki53
EDS50
Compaq42
SAP44
ST Microelectronics42
Telefonica31
Steria30
Politecnico di Milano29
CERN29
Oxford University29
Motorola29
ABB28
Renault28
Lucent27
Nortel37
Alcôve26
ATOS Origin59
Belgacom25
Getronics25
Transiciel23
Nevrax23
Red Hat32
Cisco Systems21
innominate21
Thales21
DaimlerChrysler20
altran20
T-Systems20
EADS19
BMW19
BULL19
mobile.de18
Accenture18
Sema Group17
Air France16
Alplog15
Sony15
Telecom15
Lufthansa15
Schlumberger14
Microsoft14
Andersen Consulting13
Oracle13
Intel13
Amadeus13
Epitech13
Vodafone13
AT&T12
British Telecom12
Unisys12
NCC11
debis Systemhaus21
Infineon11
Mobilix11
Fujitsu Siemens Computers11
KPNQwest10
Atrid10
Easter-eggs10
Bosch10
SOT Finnish Software Engineering Ltd.10
mail:
media at ffii org
phone:
Hartmut Pilch +49-89-18979927

More Contacts to be supplied upon request

The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture based on copyright, open standards, open competition and open source software such as Linux. Corporate members or sponsors of EuroLinux develop or sell software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for operating systems such as GNU/Linux, MacOS or MS Windows.
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in Munich, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 300 members, 700 companies and 50,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions in the area of exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.
http://swpat.ffii.org/news/03/epet0622/index.en.html
[ FFII Software Patent News 2003 → Vote in 8 days: 2000 IT bosses ask European Parliament to say NO to software patents | JURI votes for Fake Limits on Patentability | Petition Initiators Thank the European Parliament | Parliament Accepts Petitions Against Software Patents | Rencontre du groupe de travail sur le brevet du Conseil de l'UE ]
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