- The plan is to read before some embassies of EU countries a declaration, signed by some Bulgarian IT companies, that expresses the embarassment of the Bulgarian IT business about the software patents. Every embassy will get a copy of it, and a list of the companies that signed it. (Since we started moving the things very late, much more companies are expected to join the list after the protest. And it is actually defined not as a protest, but as a call to the EU countries for help in our cause.) The embassies chosen by now (not a definite list) are: Portugal, Greek, Spanish, French, Slovak, Chezh, British. The reason, to be honest, is that they are located in convenient places in Sofia; politically, any other EU embassy would be as good as any of these. We will try to document the demonstration, and to send you materials. Also, a list of signatories will be provided tomorrow (when more companies are expected to sign directly at the demonstration). The text of the declaration (last draft) is as follows. DECLARATION We, Bulgarian IT companies, declare: In the near future, The European Parliament will vote on a directive that will, in fact, legalize the patents in the software. As citizens of a state that soon will be an EU member, we are very embarrassed by this fact. It contradicts directly to the interests of EU and the European IT business. And, since these interests are ours, too, we are concerned. Some say that this directive will protect the small and middle business. The truth is the directly opposite ??? look at who supports, and who opposes the directive. All supporters of the software patents are multinational megacorporations. All SMBs that have expressed an opinion, are against the patents. The SMBs provide more than 70% of the job positions and 2/3 of the taxes collected in the IT business. A crash of their business will affect negatively not only the IT production of the EU, but also the unemployment levels and the income of the municipalities and the governments. Also, the IT specialists have a big influence in the society, and their dissatisfaction may get a broad support. It is said that without patent protection, the business will not dare to innovate, and the IT development will suffer. This is not true. The companies innovate to be more competitive, with our without patents. An introducing of software patents will obstruct the implementation of the innovations; it is then when the IT development will suffer. It is said that without patents the software innovations cannot be defended. This is not true. The innovations are very well defended by the copyright laws, which are valid now, and are created for this purpose. The patents only create exclusive rights, and these are especially dangerous in the software field. The standard expiration time of a patent ??? 20 years ??? is, in most industries, move than the life of the innovation it covers. In the software, this is not true ??? a technology that is 20 years old is totally useles directly to the very idea of the patenting. Every program that is practically usable includes thousands of software technologies and ideas ??? that is, it potentially violates thousands of patents. If even only a few of them are controlled by opponents of this program, it may not be created. And there is no programs that don't have a competition, at least. Thus the software patents will severely limit the abundance of software on the market, and the level of the competition. Until 1980, when they instituted the software patents, USA were practically the world software monopoly. Since then, the tendency was reversed ??? their share both in the production of software and in the creation of top software technologies decreases. Since Japan instituted software patents, despite its huge technological potential, its software industry practically disappeared. The position of EU in the software industry is analogous to that of Japan before the software patents ??? there is no reasons to believe that the things here will go otherwise. On the other side, countries without IT patents show a fast growth in their software production. Some explain this with the low salaries in countries like China and India, but the growth is present also in EU, where salaries are much higher. Recently India rejected categorically the software patents, and China is not expected to even consider them. If they are instituted in EU, the IT investors will be even more tempted to move their production otherwere. A new stimulus will join the others ??? the danger of litigation with software patents. It is potentially even larger than the difference in the salaries. Often some European companies are mentioned as main backers of the software patents, but the situation is different. Most of the lobbying behind the patents is provided by non-European companies. This reflects the reality that we will have if the patents are instituted. After the synchronization of the European patents bank with the world, over 90% of the European software patents will be in the hands of non-European companies. In long-term perspective, this puts even the largest European companies in bad position; for the SMBs, this is the immediate perspective. Right now, EU has the opportunity to throw out the domination from non-European companies, and to become a major IT player. An institution of the software patents will destroy this opportunity, and will put EU again in a subordinate position, this time not only to USA, but also to some ambitious countries that are considered now to be Third World ones. Aside from this, EU will be the most convenient territory for wars between the USA patent holders and the China and India software producers. For the conflicting countries the result might be any, but the territory is always devastated. Having in mind the importance of the software in the modern information technologies, and their importance for the development, EU risks becoming a Third World place, technologically dependent on China and India. All this is a big concern for all of us. The perspective of Bulgaria joining EU begins to look like a joining to an union that tries to destroy its business in the areas of the most advanced technologies. This way, such a membership turns from a privilege into a danger, for all countries ??? both these who want to join, and these who are already EU members. With sincerest concern: (signatures)
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