2004 December 27th
India's Minister of Industry Kamal Nath has issued an ordinance (a law that doesn't need parliamentary approval) in order to greatly expand the patent system, among other things by legitimating USPTO/EPO-style software patents in India.
2004 December 21st
The Software Patent Directive has been withdrawn from the Agenda of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries. Poland's Minister of Science and Computerisation, Wlodzimierz Marcinski, firmly requested the item be withdrawn from the agenda. The Agriculture Commissioner expressed regret, but the A-item was deleted and will not now be adopted this year.
2004 December 17th
The agenda for the Environment Council meeting of Monday is already up to its third revision at the time of this writing. Earlier today, it mentioned that the software patents directive would be handled at that meeting. In the afternoon, the software patents directive was removed again from the schedule. The Dutch government apparently didn't want to be accused of misinforming its Parliament again.
2004 December 15th
According to the [http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/envir/83092.pdf Agenda of the 2632nd Environment Council meeting], the software patent agreement of 18th of May will be adopted as an uncontroversial item (A-item) Monday next week, see also [http:Cons041217En Cons041217En]. Neither the Mertens group yesterday nor the diplomats at Coreper today raised any objections. Several countries made unilateral statements in which they distance themselves from the proposal and point to the European Parliament as the bearer of their hopes.
2004 December 13rd
/Brussels, 14 December 2004 --/ Diplomats of the EU Council will decide on Tuesday and Wednesday whether the Council's Software Patent Agreement of May 2004 will be passed by the upcoming Fishery or Environment Council meetings, the last ones of this year. Contrary to recent information given by the Belgian government, the Dutch Presidency is apparently still trying to push through the text from last May as an A-item, i.e. without discussion and without vote. The published justifications for throwing away all of the European Parliament's substantial amendments range from the [longtime debunked ("TRIPs requires software patents") http://swpat.ffii.de/analysis/trips/index.en.html] to the downright absurd ("politicians must not change established practice").
2004 December 3rd
The Council seems to be working under high pressure to prepare materials in order to adopt the Software Patent Agreement of 2004-05-18 as a Common Position before the end of term of the Dutch Presidency this year.
2004 September 5th
The lack of democratic control in the EU's lawmaking system has been a cause of concern for decades. In particular the Council's legislative processes are notoriously intransparent. One approach to address this problem is the Committee of National Parliaments (COSAC). A protocol to the Amsterdam Treaty assigns this committee important functions in the Council's legislative process. These functions have been grossly neglected in the case of the software patent directive. Vrijschrift, the dutch branch of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, has written a letter to COSAC president Sharon Dijksma, to raise concerns and call for an intervention of COSAC before September 24th, the date when the Council will presumably meet to rubberstamp a "political agreement" from 2004-05-18 to remove all limits on patentability of "computer-implemented" algorithms and business methods, thereby radically overturning the legislative proposals of the European Parliament as well as the consultative organs of the EU.
2004 July 5th
Zwei Tage vor dem Gipfeltreffen der deutschen Patentbewegung, auf dem Bundeskanzler Gerhard Schröder und Justizministerin Brigitte Zypries zusammen mit Siemens-Chef Heinrich von Pierer das Patentwesen und den Einsatz der Regierung für Softwarepatente in der EU feiern werden, üben die Vorsitzenden des Bundesverbandes der Mittelständischen Wirtschaft, des Patentvereins und des Fördervereins für eine Freie Informationelle Infrastruktur scharfe Kritik an der zügellosen Entwicklung des Patentwesens in Deutschland. Das Kanzleramt versprach, den Brief dem Kanzler vorzulegen. Justizministerin Brigitte Zypries antwortete 8 Wochen später an Stelle des Bundeskanzlers durch einen Brief, in dem sie einen Konsens über die angeblich überragende Bedeutung des Patentwesens für die Förderung der Innovation konstatiert und einen Teil der bekannten BMJ-Falschaussagen über die Haltung der Bundesregierung zu Softwarepatenten wiederholt. Auf die Ausführungen des Schreibens der drei Verbände wird nicht eingegangen. Dafür wird eine Fortsetzung von Dialog, u.a. durch eine öffentliche %(q:Fachdiskussion) zum Thema %(q:Schutz computerimplementierter Erfindungen -- Wie geht es weiter?) am 21. Oktober in München angekündigt.
2004 August 25th
[Heise http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/50669] | [silicon.de http://www.silicon.de/cpo/news-wipo/detail.php?nr=16342] | [FAZ http://tinyurl.com/48phe] | [FTD http://www.ftd.de/pw/de/1094280024787.html?nv=cpwd über Tacke's Desinterresse an Makroökonomie]
2004 August 24th
The German State TV Channel ZDF.de is examining a complaint by FFII about news film of July 6th in which journalist Manfred Ahlers had reported about a "summit" of the german patent establishment with the Siemens boss H.v. Pierer and chancellor Schröder as keynote speakers. Ahlers wrongly reported that Schröder had called for software patentability and that "theft of ideas caused billions of euro of damage to the software industry every year", using a interview with a BSA official about the unrelated subject of copyright violations in order to confuse the issues and fabricate a consensus in favor of software patents, in the same way as the BSA-written "explanatory memorandum" of the European Commission's directive proposal attempted this in 2002. The Ahlers report falsely presents FFII as a lobby group of copyright violators campaigning for a right to "freely reuse programs written by others". The suggestive techniques and circumstances make it difficult to assume that this was done by mistake. FFII submitted a formal complaint to ZDF's multi-partisan supervisory body asking for compensatory measures. The director of the body, MP Rupert Polenz, has affirmed receipt of the complaint and forwarded it to the program director (Intendant). A further decision will be taken after receipt of the program director's opinion.
2004 May 18th
The Irish presidency has secured political approval for a new draft of the controversial software patents directive in a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, 2004-05-18. The draft and accompanying press releases are full of statements of good intentions to avoid patents on software and business methods as such, whereas the provisions in the text assure that such items are without any doubt to be treated as patentable inventions in Europe. The draft owes its majority to a maneuver by the German delegation, which had collected the opposition under its flag, to settle for a bogus amendment in the last minute and take the Poles and Latvians with it. Representatives of the Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark and France apparently acted in breach of promises given to their parliaments or governments.
2004 May 7th
The EU Council of Ministers is demonstrating that the concept of democracy is alien to the EU. This Wednesday, the Irish Presidency and the European Commission managed to secure support for a counter-proposal on the software patents directive, with only a few delegations - including Belgium and Germany - showing resistance. The new text proposes to discard all the amendments from the European Parliament which limit patentability. Instead the lax language of the original Commission proposal is to be reinstated in its entirety, with direct patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions added as icing on the cake. The proposal is now scheduled to be confirmed without discussion at a meeting of ministers on 17-18 May, unless one of the Member States changes its vote. In a remarkable sign of unity in times of imminent elections, members of the European Parliament from all groups across the political spectrum are condemning this blatant disrespect for democracy in Europe.
2004 April 8th
After months of closed back room discussions, the Irish Presidency of the European Union has referred the proposed EU Directive on software patents back up to "political" level. The Irish want members of the Council of Ministers of the member states to agree to drop all objections by May. The Presidency proposed draft text rejects all clarifying amendments made by the European Parliament in September 2003 and instead pushes for direct patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions. A last ditch attempt by the Luxembourg delegation to ensure interoperability with patented standards was rejected. The Patent Department at Nokia is collecting signatures from top company executives for a "Call for Action" in favour of the Presidency text. In the other corner, supporters of the European Parliament's position have arranged conferences to explain the dangers of software patents, and are mobilising for a "net strike" and a rally in Brussels on April 14th under the slogan "No Software Patents -- Power to the Parliament". They are hoping for a repeat of the impact of similar actions in the run-up to September 2003, which helped convince the European Parliament to vote clearly against software patents.
2004 March 26th
The European Commission's competition procedings against Microsoft have led to a verdict which gives a big boost to Microsoft's monopoly position in the OS market and helps Microsoft expand this position to other markets. While the Commission may have earned substantial revenues for itself by imposing a one-time fine of 1% of Microsoft's liquid cash reserves, the smallprint of the verdict gives Microsoft green light to kill its main competitors in the operating systems market. This smallprint was simultaneously reinforced through backroom deals in the Council's Patent Policy working party, of which copies have been leaked to FFII. Immediately after the announcments the stock value of MSFT rose by 3%.
2004 January 14th
A spokeseman of the European Patent Office has provided official answers of the EPO to questions which MEP Piia-Noora Kauppi submitted to president Kober before his visit to the European Parliament on November 27. The answers are evasive and it is unclear whether Kober himself stands by them.