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Poland Does Not Support Current Proposal for EU Software Patent Directive
2004/11/17
For immediate Release

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.

References

The aforementioned statement by the Polish government is available on a government website here http://www.kprm.gov.pl/441_12649.htm

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: http://www.isoc.org.pl/

About NoSoftwarePatents.com

For information on the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, which is independent from FFII, please check out this Web page: http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/about/index.html

This release: http://nosoftwarepatents.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=158

For further information, please contact:

Jan Macek
FFII, Poland
miernik@ffii.org
telephone +48-888-299997

Wladyslaw Majewski
ISOC Poland
wladek@isoc.org.pl

Florian Müller
Campaign Manager, NoSoftwarePatents.com
press@nosoftwarepatents.com
telephone +49-8151-651850

Media Echo

(please add corresponding media reports here and format it according to the news formatting convention

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Annotated Links

About the FFII -- www.ffii.org

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 400 members, 1000 companies and 60000 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.

Permanent URL of this Press Release

http://swpat.ffii.org/news/04/cons1117/index.en.html
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english version 2004/05/19 by PILCH Hartmut