5. July 2005 -- FFII is transcribing audio recordings of speeches given in the plenary debate in the European Parliament today.
Official transcriptions of all speeches can now be found on the EP website www2.europarl.eu.int/.... We still need to edit them and bring them into the form below.
Talk of Erika Mann 2005-07-05
Transcript of english translation, speech was in german
I beg you pardon. Predident, commissioner, collegues, I would like to point out on ??? collegues that during the negotionations, we have found a majority agreeing on wanting patentability of computer implemented inventions, and the strength of our companies depands on that. What is the situation now, is that there are companies that want to have patents in this area and they can't do it in fact. And the comissioner has just pleaded in favor of more harmonization at the European level. And what we want to avoid as well, and I think also here collegues a agree, I think that we do not want to see an american development on patentability, so that we see that software is patented as software, but what we want to put in very plane language is software to hardware, but there is really a difficulty in getting straight-forward language for describing it because, I'd like to put this to the commision: We have soo many proposals, but how can we do this for example on the amendments for tomorrow, we are talking the amendments which have been tabled with respect to interoperability. We have the Rocard amendments, and we have also amendments from other collegues. We have Paia Noora Kaupii's amendment and we have my amendment, and I would like to ask the comission what its possition is on all these various amendments. Particluarily in respect to forced licenses, or the limitation exclusion when we are talking about software to software. Comissioner, maybe you would be kind enought to give an opinition on that. Thank you.
Talk of Andrew Duff 2005-07-05
Transcript of english translation, speech was in English Source stream: http://www.dd.chalmers.se/~klingber/parl/parl0705.rm
President. Parliament faces a grate strategic challege to create a regulatory framework that will stop the spread of patentability of software. Tactically ,our first task tomorrow must be to defeat the simplistic proposals to reject the second reading. We must ensure that we are able to progress steadily to amend the common position. It is simply through the conciliation procedure that a first class piece of a law will be created. To fail to legislate at all, would leave the industry to the old mercy of the EPO, the courts and the panels of the World Trade Organisation. I'm afraid that that would be a costly, legalistic and consufing situation. Thank you.
First talk of Commissioner Amunia, 2005-07-05
Spoken in english
Thank you mr. president. First of all I want to inform the parliament that commissioner McCreevy was not able to be present today, so I will represent the commission in this debate. I would like to start by thanking Michael Rocard, the rapporteur on this complex and technical file, for the hard work he has put into this dossier. I would also like to thank the shadow rapporteurs, who have also made major contributions to the work of the parliament on this issue. This proposal is not only relveant to inventions implemented on a standard computer, a laptop for example. It covers many every-day consumer goods and devices, increasingly important in our daily life, such as cars, washing machines, mobile phones, cameras, DVD players, tv sets, vacuum cleaners, or medical equipment like scanners.
The proposal does not aim to abolish the current practice of the European Patent Office, nor to extend it to cover the patenting of pure computer programs as many of the opponents of the proposal have claimed. Indeed, they have equally and mistakenly claimed that the directive is introducing the notion of patentability of software inventions in EU patent practice for the first time. The proposed text clearly excludes patents for pure software, as well as business methods, as such. Only technical innovations embodied in a computer program and meeting the patentability criteria of novelty, inventiveness and industrial applicability can be patented.
A legal framework ensuring patent protection in this area is key to enable European industries, including small and medium enterprises to be competitive in a high tech enviroment. Patents can guarantee a return on (??) investments, attract venture capital and provide bargaining power. This has a spin-off effect, which boosts innovation. The commission believes that the common position meets the requirements of introducing a predictable legal framework that promotes and rewards innovation.
Amnendments seeking rejection of the common position have been tabled. I would like to point out that this would only increase legal uncertainty with respect to the inventions in question. Lack of harmonization in this field would (predjudice?) the competetiveness of the European undertakings, and continue to be an obstacle to the smooth functioning of the internal market. In this spirit, the commission continues to support the line taken in the common position. Of course, we can accept amendments which introduce useful technical or contextual clarifications, subject to minor fine-tuning or interpretative statements where necessary, but the overall balance of the proposal must be maintained.
The current definition of technical contribution in the directive is taken from existing case law, so while it might be possible to word it more elegantly, we cannot turn it around. Instead it seems more useful to focus on the scope of patentable subject matter in article 4, bringing the exclusions out more clearly. Changing them in contradiction with the European Patent Convention, would however simply cause confusion. In addition, interoperability concerns can be addressed by allowing access where possible to necessary technologies, while protecting legitimate rights of inventors.
The report prepared by the legal affairs committee generally maintains the balanced approach of the commissions proposal. Nonetheless, there are some changes which should be made to bring the definitions and criteria into line with general patent law. The commission can accept additional reporting requirements, including the establishment of new advisory committees, providing that the resource implications are ??? ??? by the parliament. The commission cannot accept amendments which relate to the commisions right of initiative or the relationship with non-community institutions.
On key issues of substance, the commission is strongly committed to promotion of interoperability as a means of fostering innovation and competition, and to ensure that community legislatition does not act as a hindrance to different software development models, proprietary or open source. It therefore maintains certain flexibility as to the solution found to deal with interoperability, provided that our international obligations are respected.
On the scope of patentability, further clarification of the common position is accpetable, but not significant changes departing from the current situation, or from general patent law solutions. I should signal here that we see particular drafting problems with certain amendments relating to technical contribution and inventive step.
On claims to computer programs on a carrier, (where exact?) a program implement a patented invention, the commission can accept any position between the common position and the commissions original proposal, including alternative formulations to archive the same objective of enforcing valid patents.
The commission has noted the high number of amendments tabled on top of the legal affairs committees report. I will set out the commissions overall position on all amendments at the end of this mornings discussion.
Thank you very much mr. president.
Second talk of Commissioner Amunia, 2005-07-05
Spoken in english
Thank you Mr. president.
Those of you who have been directly involved in working on this proposal know that we are dealing with a very complex area. The directive cannot be turned on its head. What we need is a proper balance between stimulating innovation and making sure competition is not stifled. As commissioner McCreevy said in his statement of last march 2005, the ball is in your court. Whatever you decide, the commission will take account of it and respect it. Should you decide to reject the common position, the commission will not submit a new proposal. Also, you should remember that rejection would stand in the way of many European undertakings, and go against our common Lisbon objectives of increasing Europes competiaviveness.
President, various members have raised during the debate the question of interoperability. On this issue, the commission maintains a certain degree of flexibility. Compulsory licensing ??? are already present in members states legislation. It is a suitable solution, provided that no discrimination between different software development models, proprietary or open source, is ensured. Companies should be motivated to license voluntarily. However, if rights holders abuse the rights by imposing unresonable conditions, authority should step in to ensure fair terms are applied. Limited interoperability exception, geared towards the promotion of open standards could also constiture a sound approach, provided that international obligations are respected.
Various members have also raised copyright. Let me clarify that copyright is a spearate and different right from patents. Copyright and patents protect different aspects of something which is new and original. So patents do not affect the existence of copyright. Copyright protects the expression of an idea, but it does not protect any invention. And copyright protection does not prevent someone taking an invention and expresing it in a different way.
With regard to small and medium size businesses, and their access to the patent system, I should signal two aspects. First, members will be aware of the commissions proposals for a community patent, which would reduce costs for patent protection across the whole of the European Union. And secondly, we have had a feasibility study done on the question of insurance against the costs of patent litigation. This study is now in the second phase, and consultants have been asked to come up with concrete proposals.
President, in view of the high number of amendments tabled we are providing the secretariat with an overview of the commissions position of them, in writing, for inclution in the minutes of this debate. And finally, president, I hope that the vote will result in a positive outcome. However, should further ??? be necessary for finding an agreement with the council, the commission stands ready to assist both ??? legislators towards reaching a constructive outcome.
Comments on Lehne speech
Gérald Sédrati-Dinet, FFII's vice-president comments Lehne's assertions:
- Mr. Lehne seems to refute other opinions, expressed for eg. by Nigel Stoate, who is a colleague of Lehne as Taylor Wessing's partner, which comfirm what many Members States and national Parliaments have alreay proved: Council's text will give US-style software patents to UE. While listening the chamber of commerce and industry in Munich and Upper Bavaria, Mr. Lehne has refused to accept appointments with several SMEs from Düsseldorf, his own constituency, which is Europe's main location for patent litigation (2). How can his colleagues from EPP can follow such particular interests instead of accepting cross-parties compromise amendments? Lehne's proposition for rejection of the directive can only be read in this context as his fears that those 21 amendments are about to be democratically accepted by European Parliament.
Hartmut Pilch adds:
Lehne's praise for Kauppi sounds friendly but is in fact a well-calculated attempt to abuse the name of Kauppi, with the inevitable side-effect of discrediting her before her constituencies. Kauppi was pressured by Lehne to accept an incoherent position, consisting of 10 provisions in favor and 5 against software patentability. Kauppi's own position, as expressed in her JURI amendments, is very close to the 21 cross-party compromise amendments. These amendments are no more "extreme" than the 5 adopted by the Lehne-Kauppi party line. The only difference is that they are coherent. The Chamber of Commerce of Munich is not in favor of the Council position as far as I know, but one can never exclude that someone sent a pro-swpat paper in their name. That must be checked. Anyway it's nice to see that meanwhile Lehne must go all the way to Munich to drum up some alleged SME support for software patents.