All entries for Wednesday 06 July 2005

July 06, 2005

Software patents bill overturned


The European Parliament has voted by a massive majority to reject the software patents directive, formally known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions. The vote to scrap the bill was passed by a margin of 648 votes to 14, with 18 abstentions.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) says the rejection is a logical response to the Commission and Council's refusal to take parliament's will into consideration.

Anti-software patent campaigner Florian Muller argues that today's vote was prompted by events back in February, when the parliament's committee of legal affairs, JURI, voted for a restart of the legislative process. That vote was flatly ignored by the European Commission, which decided instead to move on to a second reading.

"A nightmare is over," Muller says. "Next time around, let's honestly discuss the pros and cons of pure software patents, and then we can get a great directive that won't die a dishonourable death like this."

It looks as if members on both sides of the debate chose to reject the bill in its current form. Supporters of patents would have been unhappy with the numerous amendments to the bill and will thus work on creating a motion thatís more appealing to sceptics. At stake is future innovation in the realm of software. The introduction of software patents may hamper or prevent small firms or individuals from creating rival goods. Without the funds to hire a legal team, such groups may be susceptible to pressure from more powerful firms and unable to defend legitimate claims.

More on Supreme Court nominations

Pejman Yousefzadeh of Tech Central Station writes favourably about Justice Clarence Thomas and his decision making track record. According to Pejman, Justice Thomasí reluctance to further his own ends is an attribute to be looked for in potential Supreme Court nominees.

On Justice Thomasí dissent in the case Gonzales vs. Raich, (involving interpretation of the US Commerce Clause), Yousefzadeh says,

This originalist understanding of the meaning of "commerce" both grounds Justice Thomas' dissent firmly in the intended Constitutional tradition and interpretation of the Commerce Clause and allows for a more comprehensible and enforceable regulatory scheme for the federal government to follow. Instead of paying heed, however, to Justice Thomas's approach, the majority in Raich went ahead and allowed for the enactment of a far more ambitious and reaching regulatory scheme — one that us with a policy that will lead to an administrative and enforcement nightmare for both the federal government and the citizenry.

Read the full article here.

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