Euro-patent Bill in Danger of Failing
Large Tech Companies Favor It, the OSS Community Does Not
Jul. 5, 2005 06:00 PM
A years-long debate over a harmonized technology patenting process throughout the European Union comes to a head this week when members of the European Parliament are set to vote on it. Supported by large technology companies in Europe, opposed by open-source proponents, it represents one facet of the ongoing global debate over copyrights, patents, and intellectual property.
The vote is set for July 6, and if the bill is passed, would create a uniform patenting system throughout all EU members.
Proponents see it as a way to simplify a process that is now handled individually by separate member states. Companies such as Nokia and Siemens have lobbied in favor of it, with tremendous pressure, according to reports. Open-source software proponents, on the other hand, oppose the bill, because they see it favoring large companies over small.
The vote will come in
In any case, the legislation would not include so-called "business processes," such as the one-click shopping claimed by Amazon the U.S., but rather would provide specific protection for specific code. Yet the issue seems more complex than a simple big company vs. small company debate. Concern has also been expressed about U.S. companies using technology invented in Europe should adequate protections not be in place, thereby hurting the EU's ability as a technology innovator.
"We'd miss a golden opportunity if the bill got rejected," said Marc
MacGann, director general of EICTA, according to reports, a group representing 10,000
companies including Nokia and Alcatel SA. "This law would bring
harmonization and simplify things."
On the other side of the debate, protestors in vests with a logo that said "No To Software Patents" logo and banners saying "U.S. Patents Go Out," lobbied legislators on the streets to vote against the bill.