MEPs demand new software patent proposal

By EDRi · January 12, 2005

61 Members of the European Parliament from 13 countries have signed a motion for a resolution calling for a new first reading of the software patent directive. According to the motion, the situation has changed substantially (with risks for public administration) and the European Parliament itself has changed, two formal reasons to be able to call for a renewal of the procedure.

The motion was initiated Jerzy Buzek (Christian Democrats, former prime minister of Poland) and Adam Gierek (Socialists, Poland). Amongst the signatories are many Polish MEPs, but also veteran MEPs that welcome the initiative as a way out of the political deadlock between Council and Parliament.

The motion is a great success for the anti software patent movement, especially the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). Their relentless lobbying last year against the patentability of pure software has caused many MEPs to remain strongly opposed to Council attempts to introduce a very broad and vague patentability of computer-implemented inventions.

On 24 September 2003 the European Parliament voted in first reading against all proposals that would make software patentable and added additional safeguards, such as freedom of publication and interoperation. So far, the Council has not adopted any of these amendments. A last-minute attempt by the Dutch presidency to get the proposal approved by the Agriculture Council on 21 December 2004 also met with strong Polish resistance. Since the 10 new EU member states weren’t able to vote when the Council adopted its position in May 2004, with the motion they might achieve an opportunity to regain political influence.

Euractiv reports there is no indication that the motion will be voted on by Parliament any time soon. “Under article 55 of the Parliament’s rules of procedures, the initiative would need to come from the committee in charge of the dossier.” Besides, the group failed to secure the approval of the Green MEPs, who strongly opposed the directive so far, but don’t agree with this strategy. In addition,
even if adopted by the lead committee, a resolution is in no way binding.

Motion for a resolution (08.12.2004)

61 MEPs urge return to 1st reading (05.01.2005)