MUELLER AT IT AGAIN: After being credited (or blamed) for sinking computer-related inventions in the EU, anti-software gadfly Florian Mueller published a guest column in the EU Observer, calling for the European Parliament to pass a resolution urging the European Patent Office to "ensure that it complies with the existing rules on the patentability of computer-related inventions."
The objective of the resolution, he says, would be to influence the policy of the European Patent Office (EPO), and possibly to request a new proposal for a software patent directive from the European Commission along the lines of Parliamentary amendments made to the previous draft.
A parliamentary resolution would not be legally binding upon the European Patent Office, but Mueller believes that it would carry a lot of political weight.
Basically, Mueller is saying that, by issuing software patents, the EPO is effectively breaking the law by not adhering to Article 52 of the European Patent Code, which technically prohibits computer programs. As such, he wants the European Parliament to tell the EPO to "cut it out."
The article rehashes the same arguments that Mueller's been peddling over the last 3 years: Microsoft and similarly situated companies are engaging in a global conspiracy to destroy all start-ups, and software patents are at the center of that conspiracy. For good measure, Mueller also enjoys engaging in ad hominem argumentation regarding the U.S. (we're all suckers here, don't you know). Some notable gems from the article, along with some irresistible commentary from yours truly:
Europe is fortunate, and many in the USA and Asia are jealous, because article 52 of the European Patent Convention expressly excludes software from patentability [LOL!]. That's why we have hardly any software patent litigation over here [never mind that patent filings in the EU are half of that in the US, and that obtaining a patent in the EU costs 3-5 times as much as it does in the US]. The parliament preserved that major competitive advantage.
The US Congress is presently working on a patent reform bill that would primarily benefit large corporations [you mean like first-to-file which is the standard in the EU?]. Those politicians and citizens in America who fight for balanced intellectual property rights deserve to be further encouraged.
In India, South America, South Africa and other countries and regions, the jury is still out on software patents. There is some awareness for the issues involved. If Europe doesn't send a signal to the rest of the world, then the US government might just have its way [run for your lives!].
President Bush has chosen a Microsoft lobbyist to become the permanent representative of the United States to the European Union, which says something about its perspective on foreign trade [I can only guess that the "something" implied by Mueller is Microsoft's clandestine subversion of EU patent policy through representative members of the US government].
Every patent is a 20-year monopoly, and most of those monopolies aren't justified because the respective "inventions" don't represent major breakthroughs [maybe the EU needs to write that into Article 52: only "major breakthroughs"need apply]
I continue to be amazed how Mr. Mueller is given carte blanche in the EU press to rail against software patents. What's even more amazing is the number of EU Parliament members that are actually convinced by his line of reasoning . . .