2005-11-21 Praha PolskyInstitut.cz: Software Patent Conference
The Polish Institute convened a conference on software patents in Prague on Monday November 21st. Protagonists from Czechia, Poland and from the EU directive debate explained the problems of software patents, of EU policy, of social mobilisation and gave an outlook to the future of the European software patent struggle. The ambience, the food and simultaneous interpreting between Polish, Czech and English were all very pleasant. Video footage of the event will be published by the Polish Institute.
Panel 1: What is wrong with software patents
- Polish greeting speeches from amabassador and institute director explained why their country got involved.
- Jozef Halbersztadt from Polish Patent Office: EPO grants 90% of US software patent claims without change. Polish Patent Office has been partially resisting, and the courts also have woken up and issued decisions which resist the EPO line. The political mobilisation has been instrumental for this.
- Reinier Bakels introductory lecture on broad coverage of "ideas, not inventions" by software patents
- Czech patent office spokesman Jaroslav Kozak explained that the directive only aimed to harmonise the status quo.
Josef Sima, economist from Charles University, explained Machlup was right, patent system is ill-conceived, springs from a tradition of state-granted privileges, is not promoting innovation and competition today.
Panel 2: What is wrong with the EU's legislative procedures
- Hartmut Pilch narrates history of European software patent lawmaking from 1973 to 2004
Jan Macek, substituting Wlodzimierz Marcinski, narrates Polish role starting on 2004-05-18
- Jaroslav Popilek from Czech IT Ministry states that Czech government only wanted to harmonise the status quo, that EP position would have broken the patent system, that legislative attempts are continuing, that it was an error to make a special law about software, and that EU lawmaking is all about finding compromises between states.
- Jiri Jirsa, assistant of Zuzanna Roithova MEP, says Council's behaviour on this directive had little in common with democratic lawmaking, that things would have been better under the EU constitution; suggests that the EU needs a cheaper unified patent system and to solve the software problem in this framework.
- In discussion, Pilch questions how much the EU constitution could really have changed, and asks for some clarifications on the Community Patent, which two speakers seemed to have alluded to, and as to how it could solve (rather than perpetuate) the software problem.
Panel 3: How did media and society get involved
- Polish magazine publisher Edwin Bendyk explains how in Poland the right people came together at the right time
- Ales Cepek, president of FFII.cz, explains how his group campaigned, how they sent news to journalists but found it difficult to arouse interest.
- Owner of Czech publishing house computerpress.cz Jiri Hlavenka compares successes and shortcomings of various internet campaigns and says that software patent campaign failed to reach critical mass in CZ. A heated debate occurs with some participants from FFII.cz who felt that they did what they could but for some other reason computerpress.cz was spreading pro-patent propaganda. Hlavenka objects, saying that his publishing house wishes FFII.cz's campaigning efforts the best possible success and tries to report neutrally.
Pilch briefly enumerates some mobilisation successes and failures, from http://petition.eurolinux.org to http://economic-majority.com and http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/ and the attac campaign of this year; acknowledges that, at least as far as ffii.org was concerned, media work was not its strong point.
Panel 4: Where to go from here
- Jirsa explains plans for patent reform and community patent
Pilch: the directive became "our directive" twice during the process, once in September 2003, once in July 2005, when the 21 compromise amendments made the breakthrough, thanks specially to Polish and Czech efforts in EP. These amendments provide a peer-reviewed and practise-proven solution to the problem that has everything which the EPO practise does not have: desirable results, clarity and legitimacy. This message needs to be brought to the patent community. A community patent might be ok if at the same time the European Parliament is simultaneously put in sole charge of the conditions of patent-granting, i.e. substantive patent law. This would require an amendment to the EC treaty.
- Bakels explains continued need for an IPR counter-lobby
- Halbersztadt seconds Pilch on 21 compromise amendments, explains how they were reviewed and approved by polish scholars of patent law
- A question from the organiser Anna Godlewska leads fo further, more specific comments from all 4 speakers on what they intend to do in the future
- Anna Godlewska Deputy Director Polish Institute in Prague
http://www.polskyinstitut.cz tel. +420 224 229 856 fax +420 224 223 010
- phm at ffii org 0049-89-18979927