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Software Patents > Players > Malcolm Harbour
Arlene McCarthyJanelly FourtouJoachim WuermelingMalcolm HarbourWilly Rothley

Malcolm Harbour MEP and Software Patents

Malcolm Harbour, Member of the European Parliament, UK Conservative, has been an active and forceful promoter of software and business method patents in Europe, all while pretending that he was "only closing loopholes in the current law so as to avoid US-style broad patentability" and that claims to the contrary came from "misguided lobbyists in the European Parliament". Harbour vigorously promoted program claims and opposed all amendment proposals, including those approved in CULT and ITRE, which put any limits on what can be patented. Patent lobbyists have great confidence in "Malcolm". Some write letters to MEPs telling them to look out for Harbour's amendment proposals and to support them as soon as they come out. Harbour, until recently an automobile industry manager at Rover, speaks in a very self-confident manner which gives many of his listeners, including MEPs from other countries and other parties, the impression that he is in power and they can rely on him and follow him.
Looking at Harbour's contributions to the discussions, it seems that Harbour has difficulty understanding how any process running on a computer (or, his favorite example, a mobile phone) could be unpatentable subject matter. He combines this lack of understanding with a deep trust for "IP experts" speaking in the name of large companies and industry associations. A trust which is has been reciprocated and nurtured for a while already.

In October, Malcolm Harbour showed dismay at the European Parliament's decision for real limits on patentability:

Parliament Misses the Chance to Close Software Patent Loophole

Parliament's approval of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions on 24 September should have given a boost to the EU's quest for a 'knowledge driven' economy. The Directive aims to clarify European Patent Law and give examiners clear grounds for refusing patents on software and business methods. However, MEPs voted to approve Socialist, Green and Liberal amendments which greatly complicate the proposal and render it largely unworkable. This is a disappointing result. We wanted to ensure that the EU did not go down the road of the USA in extending patents to computer software and business methods. This would be damaging to our economy and to the crucial IT sector. We now must wait for the Council and Commission to present a workable compromise proposal.

This statement was published in the e-mail newsletter of Geoffrey van Orden, Conservative MEP of the Eastern Region. Given that Mr. van Orden doesn't have any particular interest in software and that the statement closely reflects Malcolm Harbour's style and diction, we can be certain that it comes from Malcolm Harbour, the person in charge of the software patent directive on behalf of the UK conservative group in the Parliament.

see also Reactions to the EU Parliament's Vote of 2003/09/24

[ Arlene McCarthy MEP and Software Patents | Janelly Fourtou MEP and Software Patents | Dr. Joachim Wuermeling MEP and Software Patents | Malcolm Harbour MEP and Software Patents | Willi Rothley and Software Patents ]
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english version 2004/06/10 by PILCH Hartmut