July 5, 2005

Lehne, McCreevy, demonstrators with canoes

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Patent lobby MEPs calling for rejection of the directive

Brussels, 5 July 2005. At a press conference this morning at 9:00, the coordinator of the European People’s Party group in the Legal Affairs Committee explained that he is putting together a majority of MEPs who will vote for a rejection of the Council’s “Common Position” right at the beginning of tomorrow’s vote, even before any amendments are voted on. Lehne also explained that there is no longer a majority in the Council for the “Common Position”.

The announcement comes at a time where similar calls have been launched by the large companies with big patent departments and big lobbying budgets who have, during the last months, been the main supporters in Lehne’s campaign in favor of the “Common Position”.

Other patent lobby MEPs, such as the Liberal group’s legal affairs spokesman Toine Manders from the Netherlands, have also started to call for rejection of the Directive.

Manders explains his motives as follows: “A chaos is threatening … in Strasbourg. Because of the large number of amendments, the directive could shoot in all kinds of directions like a firecracker and we want to prevent this.”

Lehne called for withdrawal of the directive already in February, giving as a reason that the Parliament was unlikely to agree to a favorable (pro-patent) directive at this stage.

The move by Manders and Lehne is coming at a time where a majority of 367 votes for 21 cross-party amendments is in sight. These amendments have garnered support from large groups of MEPs in the camp of Lehne and Manders, alongside with nearly total support among all other parties.

The Parliament now still has the chance to vote for a coherent counter-position to the Council and Commission. CEA-PME (including FFII) has called on MEPs to vote for the 21 cross-party amendments, so as to form a coherent counter-position, and to reject only if these amendments fail to receive the needed support by 367 votes. If the Parliament succedes in forming a coherent counter-position, the Council or the Commission are still free to withdraw the directive. Commissioner McCreevy has today once more demonstrated that he is more than willing to do this.

100 Demonstrators, canoe race, Buzek-Rocard-Duff placards

It is 7:00am this Tuesday July 5 when the first bus unload their travellers in front of the European Parliament of Strasbourg. They came from whole Europe, coordinated by FFII. Some travelled all night from Poland to be there in time in front of the entry where MEPs come by between 8:00am till 10:00am with 10h to be seen with their yellow t-shirts marked “no software patents” and “power to the parliament”.

The large banners are deployed with haste right just before the arrival of the first members of Parliament (http://gallery.ffii.org/Strasbourg050705)

Because it is the day before of the great day: today the debate takes place, and tomorrow will be the vote.

The same day at 8:00, the FFII invited members of Parliament with a breakfast of work on the question of what still could be done before the vote.

The pro-patent campaigners of “Campaign for Creativity” chose to be present on water, the Parliament being surrounded by visible channels since the buildings; they chartered a small yacht which carried a large yellow and blue banner (as usual, copycatting the FFII symbols). The FFII side reacted by bringing a half-dozen kayaks on to the water with banners calling for a “vote for Buzek-Rocard-Duff” between two blows of paddle.

On the footbridge which hangs over the channel and connects the two wings of the building, MEPs laugh. Somebody exclaims: “this seems to prove that creativity is rather on their side”!

False Press Agency Reports about the Demonstration

Meanwhile the press agency AP has been reporting about protesters who “stopped cars of MEPs” and brandished slogans saying “US patents go out”. We wonder who these protesters were. As we saw it, the atmosphere between the MEPs and us was friendly, the slogans were markedly peaceful. AP also reports that the proposed law is not about software as such but only “CAT scanners”, “car brake systems” etc, not about office software and business methods. The opposite is of course true. Intel has meanwhile correctly noted in a paper distributed to MEPs that “computer-implemented inventions” do not include anything beyond pure software, whereas “computer-aided inventions” include “thousands of devices that were out of the scope of the directive”. For this reason, Intel opposes the proposal of Buzek-Rocard-Duff to rename “implemented” to “aided”.

We may suggest that both assertions of this press agency about the demonstration are about equally credible. This type of false reporting by press agencies has accompanied the directive project at all its decisive junctures during the last few years.

Background information and further news

Contact information

Hartmut Pilch and Holger Blasum (Munich Office)
info at ffii org
tel. +49-89-18979927

Erik Josefsson (Brussels Office)
erjos at ffii org
tel. +32-484-082063

Jonas Maebe
FFII BE
jmaebe at ffii org
tel. +32-485-369645

Rufus Pollock
FFII UK
rufus.pollock at ffii.org.uk
+44-1223-690423

Gérald Sédrati-Dinet
Vice President FFII
gibus at ffii.fr
+33-6-60-56-36-45