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Arlene McCarthy was the draftsperson (/rapporteur/) of the software patent directive proposal and the ENISA.

She also was the PSEshadow rapporteur of the IPR Enforcement proposal and many other proposals in the information society and intellectual propertyarea.

Everybody (except one) in the UK Labour group slavishly followed the same central source of commands, differences within the group do not lead to an overt split.

As of May 2004, the month before the elections, McCarthy supports the parliaments position from 1st reading.

This change is also confirmed by a mail to a constituent in July 2004 from McCarthy and by David Bowe whose statements were following McCarthy but suddenly, a letter received just after he lost his seat is commented with: It was as though he thought I would have forgotten all his previous talk of unifying the systems across the EU countries, and instead he was all fired up about how the council of ministers went against the Parliament's decision and that they (the council of ministers) would have a very hard time trying to get the bill through without the Parliament's amendments.

Of course, David Bowe should be complaining to his own Government Party (Sainsbury) first.

Phil Hunt comments: Perhaps, as an MEP, McCarthy is annoyed with the way the CoM has blatently ignored the elected parliament. Perhaps also, this issue is more important to her than the issue of software patents.

Anonymous comment from in March 2004

McCarthy aggressively pushed the agenda of big business and CEC Directorate for the Internal Market without caring much about the truth of what she is saying (or even about what it means). This is well known in her socialist group and even within her UK Labour group, many of whom don't take Mccarthy seriously. This might also have been a factor of why she has been selected as the draftsperson of this text, because being able to put statements without caring much aobut the truth of them is an essential qualification for pushing a text like the software patent directive and the IPR Enforcement directive thru parliament in the way the corporate industry wants it.

Transscripts from the Sept23 debate

Transcript of her last speech

At the end of the debate, she made a short remark

Ted Doyle's exchange with McCarthy

Below a cut-n-paste of the speeches and the last short remark from the Europarl URLs above:

Verbatim report of proceedings


Patentability of computer-implemented inventions

McCarthy (PSE), rapporteur . ? Mr President, the Commission proposal on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions before Parliament is not, as some opponents of the directive have suggested, a new phenomenon. Neither does it argue for the patenting of software, nor for extending the patentability and scope of protection in this area.

The fact is that some 30 000 patents for computer-implemented inventions have been handed out by the European Patent Office and indeed national patent offices. Computer-implemented inventions are present, as the Commissioner has said, in everyday household appliances, from safety devices such as airbags in cars to mobile phones, washing machines and an endless list of other devices with relevance going well beyond the traditional computer industries to the heart of our manufacturing sectors. Let us be clear: without this directive, patents will continue to be filed. Out of over 110 000 applications received at the EPO in 2001, 16 000 dealt with inventions in computer-implemented technologies.

In the USA, and increasingly in Japan, patents have unfortunately been granted for what is essentially pure software. An EU directive, by setting limits to patentability in this area, could stop the drift in Europe towards a US-liberal style of patenting software as such, and indeed of patenting pure business methods.

One oft-quoted example of such a bad patent is Amazon's 'one-click' shopping method. Clearly this technology is not new, nor is it unique, and patenting of software business methods such as this is not good for innovation and competition. It is unfortunate that the EPO has granted it a patent: this is an example of bad EPO practice.

Without a doubt computer-implemented inventions - genuine inventions which, in some cases, are the result of 10 to 15 years' R&D investment - are important for the European economy. At a time when many of our traditional industries are migrating to China and the Far East, we need to rely on our innovation and inventiveness to earn our living.

I have seen letters from small companies across Europe which are supportive of this directive. A small Belgian company employing 12 people has written to me saying that it needs patents to get a return on its investment, to grow its business and to ensure that others respect its technology. It is important for many European companies to grow their businesses through revenue secured by patents and licences. This is also the case for a ten-person company in the south-west of England, located in an economic blackspot with high unemployment. This company granted a licence to a US multinational for its computer-implemented voice recognition patents, which shows that in the world of global patents there can be examples of David meeting Goliath. Without patent protection the small company could have found itself in a perverse situation where its R&D efforts would have been free for the multinational company which, with its team of patent lawyers, would have gained the patent in this area. Consequently, the European company would not have reaped the benefits and, indeed, there could have been an infringement of a patent owned by a multinational.

I have tabled amendments in my report to underline my opposition to the patenting of software as such. We want explicitly to exclude computer methods, algorithms and mathematical models from patentability, as set out in a new Article 4. I have attempted to produce balanced legislation that takes account of the needs of all sectors of the industry, not just one vocal sector that is against this directive.

I would be the first to agree that we need more debate on and refinement of the proposed legislation. I therefore ask the Commission to look at the crux of this debate: how do we get good patent law which rewards our most innovative companies for their investment in R&D while, at the same time, not allowing companies to use patents to abuse a dominant position, lock up technology and stifle innovation and competition? I therefore ask the Commissioner to look at these amendments tabled in plenary today. They are very clear in suggesting that we need to limit patentability to genuine inventions in Articles 2 and 4. We want to ensure interoperability to enable computer programmers to engage in reverse engineering practices and to decompile programs for experimental purposes without risking infringement or legal action. It is vital that we address the perception that patents are only for big business: small companies can, and do, gain from patent protection. However, to have a fighting chance in such a competitive business they need access to affordable patents and assistance with legal fees to protect and enforce their patents.

Other amendments seek to ensure that the granting of a patent does not allow monopoly or abuse of a dominant position. We also want to protect the open-source community which makes a vital contribution to competitiveness in the area of software development.

Therefore, I ask the Commissioner to give serious consideration to the amendments and to recognise them in the spirit in which they have been tabled, as a genuine attempt to ensure that Europe develops good patent law in the field of computer-implemented inventions. This does not mean rubber-stamping bad practice in Europe, but developing good practice for the future, good law, good patent examiners, and a quick death for applications that are clearly not inventions. We also want to ensure that multinationals do not dominate in our EU markets. We need patents in order to protect our own companies and investments so that they can be effective global players in this fast-changing and rapidly developing software-development market.

Her final remark (Euparl debate 03-09-23)

McCarthy (PSE) rapporteur

Arlene McCarthy about EU politics

Arlene McCarthy, 11 April 1996, Glasgow, METROPOLITAN REGIONS CONFERENCE, http://www.eurometrex.org/EN/confrences/glasgow/opening/mccarthy.html (see Archive.org)

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