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Geruechte ueber EUK-Konsens zu Swpat (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 18:52:14 +0200 (CEST)
From: PILCH Hartmut <phm@a2e.de>
To: swpat@ffii.org
Subject: Geruechte ueber EUK-Konsens zu Swpat

In den letzten Tagen zirkulieren Geruechte, die verschiedenen Direktorate
der EU-Kommission haetten einen grundsaetzlichen Konsens in der
Swpat-Frage gefunden.

Die mir bekannte Version besagt, man habe sich geeinigt, keine Ansprueche
auf Computerprogramme / Programmprodukte usw zuzulassen sondern nur auf
Prozesse, die einen "technischen Beitrag zum Stand der Technik"
beinhalten, wobei mein von einer klaren Definition von "Technik" absieht.

Falls dies so waere, dann wuerde die RiLi zumindest keinen Schaden machen.
Grundsaetzlich muss die Rangfolge unserer Forderungen sein:

(1) Die Verbreitung von Programmen kann niemals einen
    Verletzungstatbestand darstellen -- Programme sind als
    Informationswerke analog zu Patentbeschreibungen, Bauplaenen,
    Handbuechern: ihre Verbreitung ist vom Patentwesen zu foerdern.
    Veroeffentlichung/Vertrieb eines Programms kann weder eine
    unmittelbare noch eine mittelbare Patentverletzung darstellen.
(2) Patente werden fuer technische Erfindungen erteilt.  Es muss
    ein technischer Beitrag zum Stand der Technik vorliegen.
    Ob ein "technischer Effekt" vorliegt, ist belanglos.
(3) Eine technische Erfindung ist eine technische Lehre, d.h. eine
    Lehre zum planmaessigen Handeln unter Einsatz beherrschbarer
    Naturkraefte zur Herbeifuehrung eines kausal uebersehbaren Erfolges,
    ... (BGH-Definition)
(4) Die Naturkraefte muessen Teil der Erfindung sein -- was neu ist
    muss technisch sein und was technisch ist muss neu sein (Kerntheorie,

Diese vier Punkte wird man vielleicht nicht bei der EU-Kommission
durchsetzen koennen, aber die RiLi sollte wenigstens nichts enthalten, was
ihnen widerspricht.  Ein Kompromiss kann darin liegen, dass nur die
Grundsaetze (1) und (2) Eingang in die RiLi finden und der Rest offen

Nach meinen Information geht der Kompromiss der EUK in diese Richtung.
Der folgende NYT-Artikel berichtet auch von einem sich abzeichnenden
Kompromiss innerhalb der EUK, aber bezieht seine Informationen offenbar
nur aus Kreisen der Patentbewegung, weshalb er voller Widersprueche und
FUD steckt.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 6 Oct 2001 18:36:29 +0200 (CEST)
From: PILCH Hartmut <phm@a2e.de>
To: Jim Bessen <jbessen@researchoninnovation.org>
Cc: patents@liberte.aful.org
Subject: Re: [Patents] harbinger

> The following appears in today's New York Times, suggesting that the EC may
> be coming down on the side of maintaining limits on software patents and no
> business method patents:

> http://www.nytimes.com/2001/10/06/business/worldbusiness/06PATE.html?ex=1003
> 379311&ei=1&en=fd8087d0f42d3a9d

Unfortunately again it is a clueless confused article, based on hearsay,
which again allows people to guess at what might really be happening.

> BRUSSELS, Oct. 5 - The European Union appears to be moving
> toward unified regulations for software patents that would
> be less encompassing than regulations in the United States
> and Japan.

This may mean nothing except that the Commission does not want the bad
press which is associated with the US approach.

> Competition officials at the European Commission, the
> executive arm of the 15-nation union, met Wednesday with
> their colleagues in charge of drafting a new law for the
> union, to press their case for limiting its scope. Their
> concern is that overly protective patent regulation could
> hinder competition by helping large software manufacturers
> maintain their dominant positions.
> A person involved in the discussions said the concerns of
> the competition officials had been met. "We haven't agreed
> on a final position, but I don't anticipate any further
> difficulties in getting the draft directive approved within
> the commission," he said.
> The approach being adopted by the commission would allow
> patents only for software of a technical nature, and it
> would not permit patents on business methods. The United
> States and Japan allow patents on a much wider range of
> software applications, and they both permit patents for
> business methods.

I doubt whether the competition people are such dupes.  Everybody knows
that "technical nature" according to the current way the word is (ab)used,
means nothing whatsoever.

The only meaningful thing that has really been discussed in EC circles is
whether claims to "program products", "programs" and the like, granted by
the EPO since 1997, should be allowed in the future, and whether, even
when there is a technical process, the dissemination of computer programs
describing it should ever constitute a patent infringement.  If DG
competition achieved anything at all, then on this point.

> Software of a technical nature would include, for example,
> applications that increase the processing speed of a
> personal computer.

This is nonsense, because patents are not granted for "applications" but
for methods of doing something.  A logical method is by itself not limited
to either "increasing the speed of a computer" or "doing business" and can
at the same time be dressed up as both.

> Business methods include innovations like one-click purchasing, for
> which the online retailer Amazon (news/quote) received a patent in the
> United States in 1999. Amazon used the patent to get an injunction
> against use of a similar purchasing feature by a rival,
> Barnesandnoble.com, but that injunction was lifted by an appeals court
> this year pending a trial.

Ok, the EC does not want the bad press arising from cases like this one.
But so far the article names no rule that can be used to exclude them from
happening.  The OneClick method no doubt "increases the processing speed
of a personal computer" and has a "technical effect" according to this
reasoning, which corresponds to EPO practise.  The fact that the Amazon
patent failed in court and at the EPO later is due to other circumstances,
namely that Thomson Multimedia already filed a patent on the same process

> "The United States has swung far too far toward granting
> patent protection," said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer in the
> Brussels office of Morrison & Foerster, which represents
> several information technology companies. He said the
> appeals decision in the Barnesandnoble case was a swing
> back to the more sensible approach being adopted in Europe.

> "The commission appears to be taking a wise approach to the
> software patent law," he said. "They will have come under
> considerable pressure to come up with something more in
> line with the United States and Japan. But I am glad they
> appear to have resisted."
> Those favoring greater scope for patent protection argue
> that Europe's failure to adopt more protective regulations
> has harmed software innovation in Europe by denying the
> protection innovators need to get financial support for
> their ideas.
> The European Union committee of the American Chamber of
> Commerce in Belgium has urged the commission at least to
> permit business methods to be patented.
> "Some would argue that in Europe, where there is a narrower
> view of what can be patented, economic opportunity from
> software invention is limited," said Thaddeus Burns, a
> lawyer with the Brussels office of Akin, Gump, Strauss,
> Hauer & Feld. Europe's approach to patent law, he said, has
> encouraged some software engineers to seek better returns
> from their work elsewhere.

"Some would argue ... elsewhere ..."
Can one be more unspecific than that?

> The software patent law for all of Europe about to be introduced by
> the commission follows a yearlong consultation process with the
> software industry and the open source software community, which
> develops nonproprietary computer code. The proposed directive appears
> to be following the less restrictive approach of the existing
> individual laws in place in the 15 countries of the European Union,
> the person involved with the discussions said.

Can one be still more unspecific?
All 15 countries have exactly the same laws in place.
The "less restrictive approach" could be the recent approach of the BGH,
which is one of unlimited patentability of all business methods, see
the analysis by R. Nack (vehement swpat supporter) in


Moreover, there has been no "yearlong consultation" but only a two month
period for solliciting patent law experts on a pro-swpat paper, which were
mostly not published and summarised in a pro-swpat report, published in a
slightly less biassed versions during the summer hole, after months of
silent dischord and non-consultation.


Unfortunately this kind of journalistic style is widespread in Europe too,
but I would have hoped that the NYT has intelligent editors who reject
this kind of clueless guessing and deliberate rumor mongering.
In this case, the journalist has intentionally or naively become a vehicle
of patent lawyer FUD.  There are some reasons to hope that the
Commission's consensus will not be as bad as he suggests.

Hartmut Pilch                                         http://phm.ffii.org/
Protecting Innovation against Patent Inflation	    http://swpat.ffii.org/
90000 signatures against software patents       http://www.noepatents.org/

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