Thank you, Poland!

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Thank you, Poland!

From: Florian Mueller
Subject: EU software patents: please express gratitude to Poland

Please take a minute to visit and express your
gratitude to the Polish government for its courageous last-minute
intervention in the Council of the European Union against software patents
on Tuesday (21 Dec).

Poland prevented, at least for the time being, the adoption of a legislative
proposal that would legalize software patents in the EU. The respective
text looks like it forbids software patents while it actually codifies
almost all of the excuses with which the European patent systems (European
Patent Office and national patent offices) have been granting software
patents for a number of years, contrary to the European Patent Convention.
The EU Council could not have turned that proposal into an effective law
right away. The Council’s “Common Position” would have to go back to the
European Parliament for a second reading, in which the majority requirements
to make any amendment are however very high.

What the Polish government did was very unusual in EU politics. The EU
Council has a two-tiered approach to decision-making, and in the entire
history of the EU there has been no more than one case so far in which a
political agreement (which was reached on software patents on 18 May 2004)
was not turned into a formal decision later. So Poland accepted to pay a
diplomatic price for potentially preserving the freedom of software
developers. No other country was prepared to do so.

Please also participate in the “Thank you, Poland” campaign if you are not
an EU citizen. The EU’s legislative process on software patents will have a
major impact on what will happen with patent legislations worldwide. If all
of the first world is under a US-style software patent regime, emerging
markets will follow. This is the chance to rein in the patent system by
democratic means, which would also increase the chances of a future patent
reform in the US.