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DOUBTS ARISE OVER THE EU VOTE ON SOFTWARE PATENTABILITY

The Irish EU Presidency claims to have secured political agreement on 2004-05-18 at the session of the Council of Ministers in favour of a new text for the Software Patent Directive. The Galician working group of FFII (FFII Galiza) opposes this text because it goes against the vote of the European Parliament, in particular by removing the amendments which explicitly ruled out software patentability because of its negative consequences for industrial innovation and European cultural diversity.

The antagonistic path taken by the Irish Presidency in developing this political agreement - which provoked protests from all parliamentarian groups - and the exceedingly narrow margin of its approval, by just two votes in the qualified majority, cast serious doubts on the degree of concensus that this vote represents.

The qualified majority could still fail if the procedures in the Dutch parliament to retract that country's vote are succesful, adding the Netherlands votes to the abstentions of Belgium, Austria, Italy and Poland and the negative vote of Spain. There are also doubts about 11 further countries's positions on the Irish proposal. The Dutch parliament will debate the 3th of june.

The last minute change in the Spanish vote reflected new party political statements against software patentability, which Camilo Nogueira, candidate for the Galeusca coalition (Catalonia, Basque Country and Galicia) from the BNG, compared to the patentability of the Pythagoras's Theorem at a meeting with Galician entrepreneurs and Linux user groups organized by the FFII in Galicia.

FFII Galiza calls on all individuals and organizations in some way related with information and communication technology, especially free software, companies, professionals, researchers... to raise the visibility of the software patents issue and to drive it onto the political agenda for the current European elections, to gain public commitments against software patentability from the different parties, in readiness for the next vote in September 2004 when the new European Parliament convenes.

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