Subject: EU Parliament JURI Votes for Restart by Massive Majority
From: Seth Johnson <>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2005 17:40:34 -0500


  Brussels, 2 February 2005 - The Legal Affairs Committee of the
European  Parliament (JURI) has decided with a large majority to
ask the  Commission for a renewed referral of the software
patents directive.  With only two or three votes against and one
abstention, the resolution  had overwhelming support from the
committee, and all-party backing.

  The decision is a powerful statement from MEPs that the
current  Council text, and the logjam of concern it has caused,
is simply not a  sustainable way forward. It is now up to the
Commission to submit a  new, or the same, proposal to the
Parliament. Parliament will then hold  a new first reading, this
time under the guidance of Michel Rocard MEP  as rapporteur.

  The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Charles
McCreevy,  had in the morning assured the JURI Committee that the
Council would  finally adopt its beleaguered Common Position
text. He announced that  "the Luxembourg Presidency has now
received written assurances  concerning the re-instatement of
this issue as an A point at a  forthcoming Council". Given that A
points are to be adopted without  discussion, this left no
possibilities for renewed negotiations in the  Council.
Consequently, the Parliament apparently decided that a restart 
was the best solution.

  Michel Rocard MEP gave a very strong speech at the meeting with
the  Commissioner. Apart from noting several "inelegancies" by
the  Commission, such as not taking into account any of the
Parliament's  substantive amendments in its recommendation to the
Council, he also  took issue with the Dutch and German
governments ignoring their  respective parliaments, the Irish
Presidency's sponsorship by Microsoft  and the attempted
ratifications of the political (dis)agreement at  several fishery
Council meetings.

  He mentioned that at a meeting with the Polish government, the 
industry players confirmed that the Council text allowed pure
software  patents, and wondered how the Commission could continue
claiming the  reverse. He was also curious about how the
Commission's perfectly  tautological definition of the concept
"technical" could help in any  way to distinguish between what is
patentable and what is not. Despite  his own abstention when
voting on the restart later that day, the fact  that almost
everyone else supported it is probably his personal  achievement.

  The Commissioner made clear that "any agreement will need to
strike a  fair balance between different interests", and that "a
constructive  dialogue between the Council and Parliament will be
vital for an  agreement". He does have the option to deny a new
first reading. But  given the strength of feeling in the
Parliament and the concerns of so  many member states in the
Council, the Parliament request looks like  the best way to
achieve a clean way forward for this Directive that  everyone has
been looking for.

Background information:

   * This press release on the web, with comments:
   * Full recording of the JURI Committee's meeting with the 
Commissioner: (29 MB)
   * Michel Rocard's speech: 
(already partially translated from French to English)
   * Latest software patent news: