Patents Back on Fishery Agenda

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Update 22 Jan 2004

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Brussels, Wednesday 19th Jan 2005 -- The EU Software Patent Directive has been or will be scheduled on the agenda of the Agriculture and Fishery Meeting of the 24th of January as an A item, i.e. an item that is to be adopted without a vote. This was announced today by officials of the European Commission and of the EU Council Presidency at various meetings. The entry is not on the official meeting calendar yet.

David Ellard, who is responsible for this directive at the European Commission's Industrial Property Unit, specially announced that the Council's political agreement on the software patent directive will be adopted as a Common Position at the Council for Agriculture and Fishery next monday, the 24th of January. Ellard told this today at an Intellectual Property promotion event organized in Slovenia. Ellard repeated the date many times at the meeting.

The same was said by Luxemburg's minister of economy and of foreign trade Jeannot Krecké at a meeting in the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament (JURI) this afternoon. It appears from this meeting that the sudden insertion into the Fishery Agenda is due to a desire of the Commission to create accomplished facts before the Parliament can initiate a restart of the procedure according to Art 55 of its Rules of Procedure. It is particularly noteworthy that David Ellard's boss, Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy, has asked JURI to postpone the discussion until after a meeting on February 2nd. At this time, JURI no longer has the option to restart the procedure, if by then the A-item is passed.

The Swedish Enterprise Association started spreading the same information already this morning, whereas the Agricultural Ministry of Sweden was unable to confirm it, saying that it was not on the Council's official Agenda so far, as is in fact is the case.

According to Article 3 of the Council's Procedural Rules, A-items should be placed on the agenda 2 weeks in advance. If an A-item is inserted later, any country can demand its removal at the beginning of the meeting. Poland made use of this right at the last Agricultural Council on December 21st.

The FFII has covered its front page with a letter to EU ministers of agriculture and is using what little time the Commission's surprise tactics leaves to launch a campaign, in which it called on its supporters to help draw attention to the matter.

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