Dear Madam, Sir,
Just like many of my freelance colleagues who are working in the IT departement of Belgium's biggest employer, I fear that software patents will make life as an IT professional very difficult on me. Also for my employer, which is developing in-house applications for the benefit of the public, costs will rise enormously if we would have to obey any patent law. These costs would of course be supported by the tax payers, since I work for a government enterprise.
We are also using lots of free and/or Open Source software, which usage would also be endangered if software patents were to be accepted in Europe, again rising our cost of operation.
Combining our own in-house developed software and some expertise of the Open world, we develop web sites and web applications offering our products. Features like a menu bar, on-line ordering of tickets, usage of credit cards to pay, sending information to the customers and many other common building blocks of any web site would have to be paid for to the big companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, even if our application was developed from scratch by our own developers, because those big players have pattented the ideas.
The ICT sector, which has long been used to frequent changes, would be paralized, just like it is now happening in teh USA, if software patents were to be accepted in Europe. We would have to either pay for everything we develop with oru own minds, which are by the way the major export product of the Flanders region, or we would be stuck with old technology on which patents are already expired, thus effectively bringing us back to the fifties.
Therefor we ask that you do not accept software patents, by approving the amendements of the first reading in the EP (see http://wiki.ffii.org/Plen05En).
Please don't let yourself be bullied into acceptance of a law so harmful for the development of the European regions.
Thank you,Machtelt Garrels.
Dear Mrs. Garrels,
You have sent us an email in order to stress the importance of the directive on software patents for you, and we thank you for your support.
The European Greens share your concerns: this directive as adopted by the Council on Monday 7 March is not acceptable. Fortunately we are in a codecision procedure, which means that the Parliament will be consulted again: the directive, in the version of the Council, now returns to the European Parliament for the second reading. The Greens/efa in the EP will do anything possible in order to re-write the text with all the necessary proposals and amendments from the first version of the parliament, with the aim to limit patentability as far as possible.
In case no agreement can be found between Council and Parliament, there can even be a 3d reading which is called a conciliation. The European Parliament could also choose to reject the Common Position, if it is felt that there is no possibility to really better the text.
After all the discussions on the decision process in the Council and the power-play between Parliament, Commission and Council I see some chances for getting majorities for a clear limit to patentability as far as software are concerned. But we will need every possible support from outside the Parliament to convince more MEPs of the importance of this issue.
If you wish more detailled information and follow up, you can contact the advisor who is following this matter for the European Greens: Laurence Van de Walle lvandewalle at europarl.eu.int
You can also subscribe to the mailing list GreenSource that covers European Green policies in the field of software patents and free and open source software by visiting http://lists.collectifs.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/greensource