Notes from the FFII/CCIA/EPP Conference
Brussels 1st June 2005 -- the conference organised by FFII and CCIA together with parliamentarians from the European People's Party was well organised and attended and produced some interesting statements and dialogs. We quickly collect some notes.
Heise: Die heiße Kartoffel im Schoß des Parlaments (report on morning part)
EU-Rat will kurzen Prozess bei der Richtlinie machen (report on afternoon part)
Peter Jungen (SME Union, European Enterprise Institute)
humurous moderation of the discussion, explains Lisbon agenda and how this directive is really related to it (not just using Lisbon Agenda as a rhetorical means of adding political weight).
Jerzy Buzek (EPP, Polish Prime Minister 1997-2001)
explains his support for Rocard/Kauppi/Kudrycka positions.
brilliant responses to Lueders, Sax etc from Microsoft frontline organisations who criticise that he had said that software development is cheap. Explains how people at his research institute were able to distinguish between "patentable" and "publishable" subject matter based on the fact that the former had a high price per solution because solutions were based on experiments with forces of nature, while the latter were pure intellectual work that also could cost many man years but would then also produce a prodigious number of solutions.
Brian Kahin (Univ. Michigan, former Whitehouse advisor, keynote speaker)
very good speech (need to collect and publish).
Luc Soete (Maastricht Institute of Information Economics MERIT)
"computer-implemented inventions" and "software" can not be reasonably distinguished and the use of "technical" does not cause a significant difference with US practice. The main difference with the US is the relatively better quality of European patents, not differences is kinds of subject matter they are granted for. Claims about necessity of software patents are mostly based on unexplored cases, such as that of Philips possibly needing program claims for software that brings new technical solutions to TV sets. Research should have been done properly before the Parliament is presented with half-baked or wrong rationales.
Yannis Skulikaris (EPO)
claims that EPO only executes the law and will obey if it is changed, says that patents in general promote innovations, but in some unresearched fields of technology such as computer-implemented inventions there may be exceptions about which the EPO awaits instructions from the legislator.
Later many of the participants in the discussion want to have their personal shot at Skulikaris, making him the most prominent speaker on the panel.
Maria Cimaglia (UEAPME)
UEAPME's position against the Council's Common Position is based on extensive consultation with members, as UEAPME can only make statements which are unanimously supported by its member associations. In fact, she noted that the SME and craft membership which UEAPME represent has been quite vocal in its opposition to this directive.
Andreas Müglich (Gelsenkirchen Technical Univ.)
Presents German ministerial study, explains that, since the evidence of universal opposition against software patents among German !SMEs became known, the study ceased to enjoy the support of the German government.
brilliant rhetorical show, like a politician in election campaign, using all questions as opportunities to transport campaign messages, often without answering the question.
- EICTA represents companies of a total turnover of 1000 bn, including !SMEs
- intervention from Simon Phipps (Sun): As far as the software patent issue is concerned, EICTA does not speak for Sun
- intervention from Wladislaw Majewski (ISOC Poland): ISOC's Polish member association PIIT.pl has, by a large majority vote, approved statements that are in line with FFII and against EICTA on software patents. The same is true of some other national EICTA members
It is doubtful whether FFII really represents the companies listed on Economic Majority.
EICTA is against software patents, but so is the "common position", it is not about software, only about inventions that use software (-> CIIisSwEn)
- Yellow Danger ante portas: China has 12,000,000 electronics engineers and no longer needs any technology transfer from Europe. Huawei (big ICT company with military background) has successfully bidded for a contract with UK government and is slashing prices for European manufacturers by 30-50%. Patents are the only means for keeping such companies at bay.
Venture capital needs patents. Of 6400 small/medium european ICT companies financed by venture capital, 60% owned one patent and their business model completely revolved around that patent.
- James Heald (FFII UK) points out that the companies mentioned in the EVCA paper were not only from the ICT field but from all fields and especially from biotech, where the dependency on patents may be 100%.
- Directive doesn't change anything.
- James Heald (FFII UK) reads out text from UK Patent Office "technical contribution" workshops which says that the "common position" makes almost everything patentable and significantly differs from current UK practise.
- Council won't accept any of Rocard's amendments. Council's directive is better for you than no directive. It's time to end this discussion so we can turn to the many other pressing problems.
Hartmut Pilch (FFII) & Piia-Noora Kauppi MEP
Pilch mentions currently ongoing negotiations with Council, says that there is no time for such negotiations under the tight schedule of the 2nd reading and that these can only serve to derail the Parliament, mentions some of the positions that have become known from the Council working group of ministerial patent officials: e.g. most delegations (including German, Dutch) insist on program claims, can accept only Lehne amendments (i.e. cosmetic amendments which pretend that program claims don't pertain to programs).
Kauppi denies that the Council said anything to the Parliament, but confirms that there has been a Council meeting last week and there will be another one on Friday the 3rd and that they will come up with an internal position very shortly before the JURI vote. Kauppi also suggests that the plenary will be even more difficult than JURI, and that the resulting position will not satisfy FFII.
André Rebentisch asks for rationale of RAND clause (exclusion of free software) in interoperability amendments. Kauppi points to "realism", says "the Council would never accept" the interoperability amendment in its useful form. Pilch says the Council is hastily meeting because, as realists, they are afraid of the enormous force of a clear affirmation of the Parliament's first reading, which would put them in a disarray during Conciliation, and therefore are trying to derail the process.