Tuesday, July 05, 2005

EU GETTING READY TO FALL DOWN AGAIN: No offense to my EU brethren, but the EU Parliment has proven itself to be as incompetent as it is worthless as far as patent law's concerned. European Union lawmakers have recently indicated that they are poised to shoot down the "software patent" bill in a crucial vote after four years of haggling and fierce lobbying by small and big technology companies. Members of the European Parliament are deadlocked over how to strike a balance between providing legal protection to software innovation and avoiding setting up barriers having the opposite effect.

And the protests - the protests!

Outside the parliament's hulking Strasbourg headquarters, demonstrators protested in the morning rain against broad patent protection for software while MEPs argued inside over the pros and cons of the bill.

The bill's rapporteur, former French prime minister Michel Rocard, said his work had not been pointless and that it would take 'decades' to draw up legislation on protecting software.

'The information revolution is at its birth,' he told journalists. 'We shall spend decades finding all the laws, regulations, habits and customs to deal with it,' he continued, adding that 'there is no surprise' that the bill was likely to fail.

Just where has Mssr. Rocard been hiding? Many smaller companies in the US are starting to see the benefits (some may say necessity) of a well-maintained portfolio, and are starting to patent their core technologies as a defense against marauding competitors, and to promote technological sharing among partners. While there are some warts, the US patent system vis-a-vis software is starting to mature into a more workable model, and is most certainly heading in a positive direction. And Rocard thinks he needs decades to figure out how this stuff works?

UPDATE: A wonderful article at TCS about the cast of characters opposing software patents - a bit political, but hey - legislation is a political process:

The people who run FFII are enemies of private property, the free-market and capitalism. Some of them are widely known to be neo-Marxists, such as Jozef Halbersztadt, a member of the FFII advisory board and patent examiner at Polish Patent Office. In Poland he is a kind of IT Ché Guevara. He publishes in such leftist magazines as Social Review and Political Critics.

In his writings he does not hide his revolutionary visions. "[Neo-liberalism] is creating by protection of so called intellectual property," Halbersztadt writes on the web portal Lewica.pl (Left). His idea for destroying "neo-liberalism" is to limit IP rights by blocking their legal protection. "Today not everything is blocked, but limiting private property makes society profit. Because of Linux, Microsoft's bosses do not sleep well," he argues.

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