Unanimous Bundestag (German Parliament) vote against software patents

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Berlin, 17 February 2005 -- The German Bundestag unanimously passed a motion which strongly attacks the Council version of the European software patents directive. As such, the German Bundestag joins growing the club of national Parliaments which have spoken out against software patents. These actions make the Council's attempts to continue trying to push it through look more desperate and unworldly by the day.

The Council of Ministers version was generally considered to be completely inappropriate: "I think that here in the German Bundestag we were able to quickly reach an agreement about the fact that the state of the discussion at the EU level leaves many central questions open", stated MP Dirk Manzewski (SPD). MP Rainer Funke (FDP) elaborated: "The necessary and meaningful unification of patenting practice should not be allowed to lead to an extension of substantive patent law."

MP Dr. Günter Krings (CDU/CSU) emphasized that a directive "that is worth its name", needs a concrete definition of technicality and must exclude program claims. He was happy to be in time with the Bundestag resolution:

"When we dealt with this issue in the Bundestag about four months ago, probably nobody expected that the EU Council of Ministers would not yet have passed the Political Agreement negotiated in May. It is rare for the passing of a resolution draft to be postponed this often. The directive draft has become a buck that EU Council presidencies pass to their successors. After the Dutch government found that nut too hard to crack, it is now up to the Luxemburgers."

In addition to the Dutch Tweede Kamer, the Spanish Senado and the Bundestag votes, he also praised the European Parliament:

"Our MEP colleagues have now also opted for a restart of the legislative process in the European Parliament and to search for a constructive solution. The German government should take this motion at heart, as it is notably also supported by the representatives of the EPP. Now it's time for the Minister of Justice base its negotiations in Brussels on the interest of software developers and their employees. We are waiting for deeds."

Manzewski ("if even I as SPD legal specialist had to swallow when reading some of the formulations ...") and Krings thanked the employees of all groups for their help during the negotiation process, namely Mr Nermin Fazlic and Mrs Petra Marmann (SPD), Mr Oliver Passek and Mrs Franziska Vilmar (Greens), Mr Ole Jani (FDP) and Mr Jörn Henkel (CDU). It is thanks to their cooperation, "that Germany speaks with one voice in Brussels" (MP Jerzy Montag, Greens).

MP Jörg Tauss (SPD) said: "Incidentally, this refutes an old prejudice that computer scientists generally are apolitical or technocratic. They are not at all 'specialists without spirit' in the way Max Weber had predicted for the outcome of the societal rationalisation process. They are highly qualified, discerning and committed often young persons standing up for their convictions and taking part in political processes."

"The present motion especially intends to partially correct a deficit of the Brussels conciliations. The central concern for me is the obstinate ignorance that Brussels has shown to the real European and German economical interests in the software field. It is the !SMEs that are the vectors of innovation in Germany's and Europe's IT field", he added.

Holger Blasum (FFII) comments: "Past Tuesday, entrepreneurs and software developers were looking for signals from the Ministry of Justice when demonstrating at its Berlin Mohrenstraße site. The restart option submitted by the Conference of Presidents yesterday opens new doors. All groups in the Bundestag deserve praise for their clear position. In so far the government is concerned, I now follow Dr. Krings: 'We are waiting for deeds.' The possibilities to act are plentiful now."



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