No to European Software Patents

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In a smashing victory for European software business, the EU parliament has voted 648-14 against the controversial software patent directive. Thanks to everybody involved!


As I said in last month’s Tietokone interview on Open Source business (subscription required), software patents would have been a great threat to the Open Source movement, and European business in general. The only ones benefiting from the absurdity would have been big American software companies.

Not only would such directive been destructive to European economy, but in addition it was being driven using very dubious and undemocratic methods. It is great to see common sense reign after all the dirty play.

In April 2004 I wrote:

FFII is reporting that the whole concept of web shops is patented under the proposed European Patent Directive. This would make building any kinds of web stores or shopping carts require a patent license.

I guess European Union has decided to move Internet back to stone age, then. Competitiveness with American software business, indeed.

In June 2004:

This is all clearly stuff that Midgard CMS and other CMSs have been doing for a long time before the patent was filed. There was even an Oracle port of Midgard available at almost the same time the Oracle guys applied for their patent.

Normally ludicrous American software patents like this wouldn’t worry me, but now that they will also start to apply in European Union, it is a bit scarier.

And in March 2005:

Against the decision of European Parliament, the EU Council has approved the software patent directive against its own rules.

This was a clear example of how big business lobbies can thwart the democratic process, in this case threatening local IT innovation and opening the door to ridiculous US-style intellectual property lawsuits.

This has been a major victory, but we still need to be careful. Boing Boing adds:

Software patents have been staked through the heart before, but they keep rising from the grave. There’s too much monopoly rent waiting to be extracted by anti-competitive companies for them to simply give up and go home. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

(the accompanying EU flag is from the European Union symbols site and follows their copyright clause)