Saturday, July 09, 2005

Spin control in aftermath of EU rejection of software patents

Keep in mind the arguments for "patent harmonization" which underlie current efforts in US patent reform. There is (and will be) no harmony as to software/business method patents between the US and Europe.

Even after the EU Parliament's rejection of a controversial directive, the war of words rages on between opponents and proponents of software patents. Anti-patent campaigners today criticized the lobbyists in the other camp for "excessive spin doctoring".

Hartmut Pilch, the president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), cannot see why the proponents of software patents would truly welcome yesterday's outcome: "No matter what the others say, article 52 of the European Patent Convention is still in force, and it clearly disallows patents on computer software. Our opponents wanted to dilute that article by means of an EU directive, and the headway they made amounts to zero."

"After they just wasted many millions of Euros on lobbying and public relations, they now want to soothe their bosses and clients by denying their all-too-obvious defeat", said Florian Mueller, the founder of the campaign. "If I had spent so much money, I'd want to walk out of the shop with something more than a failed attempt to enshrine software patents in European statutory law. They could have had that for free any time."

The pro-patent efforts had reached major proportions. Free ice cream to more than 500 people was actually one of the minor expenses. Pro-patent organizations hosted events in the European Parliament and various capitals of Europe on an almost daily basis for three months. They produced various videos; hired a former president of the EP (Pat Cox) and several high-profile PR agencies; placed a large banner on the front of a building close to the EP; and they had dozens of full-time lobbyists -- a number of them high-paid lawyers -- stationed in Brussels for months. One of the leading pro-patent campaigners had made himself a name with a 30-million Euro campaign for gene patents.

[from businesswire]


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