Summary: Microsoft keeps pressuring Europe to give up its sovereignty and restrict the use of Free/libre software for newly-conceived legal reasons (European parliament photographed above)
ON the heels of FFII actions and FSFE-BSA stand-offs [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] the FSFE’s head Karsten Gerloff writes to rant about software patents at WIPO and the FFII’s president shows us that WIPO gives room to Microsoft
[PDF]. See the time slot which says: “14.30 – 15.00 Mr. Jean-Yves Art, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation”
To quote part of Gerloff’s long summary and analysis:
This week’s meeting of the SCP was mainly supposed to discuss the study prepared by Professor Bently and his team of experts, in particular the section on software. On the agenda was also further discussion of the relation between patents and standards. That’s a topic which FSFE has long been working on in various fora, including the European Commission and the Internet Governance Forum.
We got to make three statements. The first was a general statement, outlining FSFE’s viewpoint on the issues on the agenda. The next two were more detailed.
In our second statement, we talked about the relation between standards and patents. This has been a topic for the SCP for several sessions. We argue that software standards need to be implementable by anyone, whether in Free Software or otherwise. Free Software licenses don’t allow you to impose additional conditions on the person you give the software to. You can’t say “you’re free to use, study, share and improve the software, but when you pass it on, you have to pay for a patent license”. That’s why patents included in software standards need to be licensed royalty-free to anyone who implements the standard.
The third statement talked about excluding software from patentability. Professor Bently’s study discusses at some length the practice of the European Patent Office (EPO) to grant patents on software, even though this contravenes the letter and spirit of European law, namely the European Patent Convention’s Article 52, which says that software “as such” is not patentable. Our statement discusses this in some detail.
For those who do not remember, the tightening between standards and patents is promoted by Microsoft and its lobbyists, who are now joined by mobbyists. There is this mysterious Twitter account called “European Innovation” (@EUinnovation), which calls itself “the number one source for #EU #innovation news!” Well, we linked to it before because we suspected it could be funded by Microsoft to push the idea of software patents in Europe. This account is apparently connected to “Microsoft Europe” (@MSEurope) and it has just begun following the president of the FFII (see list of recent additions). How come?
Anyway, “European Innovation” is mostly propaganda for more patent monopolies in Europe and “harmonisation” (more of the same party line) gets pushed by ManagingIP, which summarises its new article as follows:
Five areas for global patent reform: harmonisation back on the agenda
As the name ManagingIP implies, it is biased in favour of patents.
Microsoft must be pleased with above now that it turned to litigation just like SCO. Software patents may be Microsoft’s last weapon and resort, but software patents are hardly accepted in the world. It’s mobbyists, patenting maximalists, and gullible journalists who believe lawyers and mobbyists who spread the perception that the fight against software patents has been lost. What utter nonsense in ZDNet. █