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EU to vote on new software patent law

How will it affect webmasters?



8:21 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

[news.bbc.co.uk ]

According to the article, the US already has a software patent law, so have any of you US webmasters used it or been caught out by it? How worried should I be (as an EU webmaster)?


5:07 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"Software patent bill thrown out" - [news.bbc.co.uk...]

Which is fantastic! patenting software is like patenting notes or chords in music - it would stifle inovation and make small software businesses fight against the likes of M$ and IBM.

In Europe software is protected by copyright - the way it should be.


5:40 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm glad to see the Europeans got this one right. Over here in the US it usually means either an individual patents something obvious that's already being done and then tries to sue to collect big bucks, or MS (or similar) patents everything they can think of to try and prevent anyone else from being able to write software.


7:15 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How worried should I be (as an EU webmaster)?

You should be relieved... It would have been one more nail in the coffin for the Internet entrepreneur. The further we in the EU move away from the US copyright/patenting model the better.


1:35 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Huge kudos to the Europeans for once again not bowing to corporate software pressure and doing the right thing. Too bad we in the US have to watch the right choices being made elsewhere, but better somewhere than nowhere.


1:45 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Better choices in the UK include:

Gas at $5-$6 at gallon
Cigarettes at $7-$8 a pack
Hotel Rooms at $$80-$120 per person

Yep they make good choices in Europe.

P.S. I am a Brit who escaped the high prices in the UK.


3:18 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

yes they do, I agree. Charge the full price for that gas and smokes, the one that includes the hidden costs, not just the pretend price like we do here [don't know where you live in the country, but those hotel room prices are pretty cheap for most major US cities, so that's not demonstrating the point you were hoping to]. Guess that pretend world we try living in here might be why the US dollar has been devalued at least 45% over the last 3 years, and the Euro is flying high. But your gas is temporarily cheap, that's nice.... <mods, feel free to hack away, no apologies necessary..> but back ontopic, it's the Euros who had the gonads to actually prosecute MS to some degree, and who didn't bow to companies like that when it came to patenting what can't and shouldn't be patentable, have to give them a pat on the back for that.


12:22 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I consult in the EU Gvt area and it was very much discussed here.

Summary is that the present system allows for pattent applications but is truly crap as there are few consistent rules and waaaay to much power is left in the hands of minor bureaucrats. This doesn't change.

This law would have clarified issues and actually limited a lot of opportunities to try for patents. Get past all the hooohaaa and Open Source crowd shot themselves in their non-patented feet.

Same could be said for business groups as for now, due to innner Brussels politics, it's unlikely to come back in any form soon. Parliament brutaly rejected this one.

Shame that everyone loses.


5:33 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You can read more here [software.newsforge.com] and here [lwn.net]. The free software foundation europe had this to say [mail.fsfeurope.org]. Groklaw has this [groklaw.net]. Decide for yourself the value of the outcome. However none of those sources considered that everyone lost, redhat was happy too, nokia was happy, free software foundation europe is happy, the big software companies like MS are unhappy. Clearly these guys have something to be happy and sad about, so I don't think everyone lost.

This is not the best possible outcome (which would've been an amended directive)
but it'll do the trick.[from the groklaw article, comment. That seems to sum it up pretty well]


6:29 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Fine then, how about "nobody wins" :-)


6:40 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It's better than what happened in the states is all I can say. I'm a bit jealous of a system that didn't just let the megasoftware companies walk in, make the right campaign contributions to the right party, then walk away with their shopping list filled, or the penalty phase of their monopoly conviction gutted... it all depends on your perspective I guess. Now pardon me while I go off to patent this great idea I just had, when I press the submit button, my forum posting will be updated...


9:41 am on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

I especially like this from GrokLaw:

"There is important innovation coming out of the software industry,'' Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said in Paris today before the parliament vote. "We think that innovation needs to be protected.''

I will translate for you. I take that to mean: they would like to be protected from innovation by others.



1:42 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Heh, true about the MS quote.

Have a little story for you.

I own half a company in EU. Basically we have a search related software relevant to the lobbyist field. We of course didn't take a patent in the EU. I moved to US for 1.5 years (for unrelated matters)and had to get a Visa. To do that I had to setup an american division of that specific company. The lawyers would NOT let me talk about the VISA nor the company until we had a painful hour conversation on patents.

In Europe, we just don't get into detail and we know that no one will try to copy as they can't really copy our idea for now - our behind the scenes is not likely to be copied. Even if someone did, I'd prefer to spend the energy on competing on the strenghts of our ideas and marketing.

In the US we'd have had to give away our secrets and CREATE competition. Then lose anyway if someone with a big lawyer got behind it. Strenght of patent = $ in lawyers that you can spend.

So yeah, I agree that the present EU setup has it hands down on USA for us little guys. But that's because of a lower tolerance for IP lawyers though, not due to the law.

Without the patent we do have to be uber careful how much we talk about back end (or else give up rights). I still think that the EU would have been better with the law, but can't be "$ to argue it in detail :-)


6:20 pm on Jul 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member swa66 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Unfortunately software patents being thrown out in the EU by an overwhelming majority means the patent lobby can still have a shot at the national level in 25 countries.

So the fight against software patents isn't over yet.

Boycot software that uses patents!


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