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10.12.10

Belgian EU Presidency and BSA Threaten Europe’s Digital Future With Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Patents, RAND, Standard at 10:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vincent Van Quickenborne

Summary: Links and succinct analysis of forces in Europe which promote or help promote software patents, impeding its original agenda in the process (sometimes for multinationals to capitalise on)

PROPONENTS of software patents in Europe rear their heads again and in order for their influence to be diffused/defused (generally dismantled) we will show who they are and what ideas they are promoting. First of all, up goes the Belgian EU Presidency again. We wrote about its positions very recently, under the assumption that Quickenborne plays a key role [1, 2]. According to this report, the Presidency is still pushing for the European Patent, which may enable software patenting through the back door.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that the current Belgian EU Presidency seeks a break-trough in the negotiations for the EU patent and the unified European Patent Court by a non-paper put on the table at the informal Competitiveness Council of 29 September 2010.

The non-paper suggests an alternative language regime to overcome the opposition of especially Spain and Italy, which are the most vocal critics of the Commission’s latest proposal. According to the compromise of the Belgian Presidency, English French and German would remain the official languages for filing EU patents, while English would be the only language into which patents are translated, however, only for a transitional period until the performances of translation machines have reached a sufficient level.

Alexander Spuntz says:

EU Commission presents “Innovation Union” Initiative as Belgian Presidency seeks Break-Through in EEUPC Language Issue: http://bit.ly/dv4kf1

Now we come to the reaction of the FSFE, whose opinions on matters of patenting are similar to the FFII’s (both are based around Germany). The head of the FSFE writes:

Asked #WIPO #SCP15 why study http://ur1.ca/215on discusses EPO’s granting of #swpat, but doesn’t mention this is illegal under EPC Art 52

Separately, said the head of the FSFE, “BSA Mueller [claims that] standardisation policy shouldn’t take sides re business models. I agree – standards should be implementable OS/FS”

This goes back to what the BSA did in London last month. BSA lobbying for software patents (through RAND) in Europe goes years back and we have a wiki index documenting some incidents. According to this, there is some good news though; the European Union nearly chooses to ban RAND/FRAND, so lobbyists like BSA use the “red” smear which the FFII is already laughing about. It’s like they try to compare API access to communism. What pathetic and disrespectful tactics.

The European Union is on the cusp of writing public procurement rules which favour patent- and royalty-free technologies, according to software giants who argue that the rules echo Chinese public procurement laws.

[...]

As the FFII puts it:

#BSA worried #EIF would “give technologies that have open specifications an advantage in public sector bids.” #lol http://bit.ly/bFyV29

Glyn Moody has responded with the article “Whatever the BSA Says, FRAND is no Friend of Europe”. He compares this to the World Wide Web.

The European Commission is therefore quite right to follow the W3C when drawing up modern standards for the 21st century, rather than being held back by older approaches that were drawn up for quite a different world. Let’s hope the Commission is not led astray by the BSA’s special pleading for the unfair and inefficient FRAND, which is most certainly not a friend of Europe in this case.

One ought to remember that Microsoft funds the BSA. So does Novell.

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