Monday, March 07, 2005

Denial of Democracy in Europe

I had intended to write on the tax on innovation being considered by the European Union, in the form of Software Patents. I was going to mention how it could allow major US corporations to paralyse parts of the industry in Europe, or tax them, at their discretion. I was going to mention how competition would be slashed. I'll come back to that later.

But on Monday the Council of the European Union (known as the Council of Ministers) defied its own procedures, the wishes of the European Parliament, and the request of a number of national Parliaments (including Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany). They passed a deeply flawed directive that will allow unrestricted patenting of software, giving major companies with huge portfolios of patents in the flawed US system a means to ambush almost any competitor without a similar portfolio.

If you need an example of how this works, consider this. In Japan, the major competitor to Word for Windows was removed from the shelves because of a patent lawsuit. Apparently an obscure part of their help screens infringed just such a patent.

Bad news for European competitiveness!
Good news for Microsoft!
Bad news for us!

The only people who can stop it now are our MEPs - time to write to them.

1 comment:

Flaming Firegeni said...

The paralysing of industries and taxing them at their discretion...?

Erm at the risk of sounding a bit biased I must point out that this ignoble activity has been developed into a fine art by USA...

I don't believe in conspiracy theories either but one has to wonder *WHY* the Council of the European Union passed such a flawed directive! Being somewhat cynical of most politicians I might say that someone or a few someones have just become extremely rich. I feel increasingly bleak about the existence of altruism in political arenas!