Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

European Parliament Fails to Agree on Computer Patents

Filed under

European parliamentarians are expected to reject legislation on Wednesday on the patenting of computer-related inventions, ending a testy four-year debate without resolution.

The main political parties in the European Parliament agreed late Tuesday to abandon the proposal rather than risk an inadequate compromise; they are to vote against the proposal at their plenary meeting on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France.

"It is clear that the proposal is dead," the conservative parliamentarian from Germany, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, said in a telephone interview late Tuesday from Strasbourg.

The proposed directive was originally meant to reconcile existing laws on computer-related patents to make it easier for inventors to register their innovations across Europe. It was seen as a crucial element in Europe's drive to become more competitive.

But during the protracted and sometimes vitriolic debate, the proposal was reshaped twice: first by the Parliament two years ago, when it tried to make it difficult to patent anything related to software; and again earlier this year, when national governments went in the opposite direction, granting much greater scope for patent protection than intended in the European Commission's original draft.

Like the politicians, industry has also been divided over the shape of the draft law, with large patent owners, including Microsoft, Nokia, Royal Philips Electronics and SAP, firmly in favor of the version allowing greater patent protection. Other software companies, among them Red Hat and Sun Microsystems, and the free software movement have warned that such a law would damp innovation, in particular in open-source software.

Thomas Vinje, a partner at the Clifford Chance law firm whose clients include Red Hat and Oracle, said, "The open-source software business model would have been seriously threatened" if the tighter law was adopted. He welcomed the moves to reject the proposed directive. "Big money has lost," he said.

Europe pioneered the concept of open-source software development, and its supporters have argued that the only way for Europe to catch up with the United States in software is by nurturing the open-source movement.

"We are quite pleased with today's debate," said Mark Webbink, Red Hat's senior legal counsel, speaking from Strasbourg. "It may not be the most positive outcome, but it's a close second."

The patent lobby was less enthusiastic. "A rejection would be unfortunate," said Les Hayman, a so-called ambassador at SAP who reports directly to the chief executive, Henning Kagermann.

Francisco Mingorance, a consultant with the Business Software Alliance, a trade group whose members include Microsoft, said, "If the Parliament decides not to have a directive, we'll respect that,"

Conservatives, liberals and socialists in the European Parliament are urging the European Commission to try to secure agreement on a broader patent policy before trying to tackle the thorny area of computer-related patents.

The European Union has been trying for many years to agree on a community patent policy covering all types of inventions, but has failed because some smaller countries insist that patents be translated into all the official languages of the group.


More in Tux Machines

Zorin OS 12 Beta - Flat white, no sugar

I did not do any other testing, no extensive tweaking, no customization. I felt no need or desire to do so. Now, do remember Zorin OS 12 is still in beta, so we can excuse some of the problems we see here. But others are purely Ubuntu, and have been ported over from the parent distro without any discrimination or any improvements and fixes introduced in the last six months. The big offenders include: multimedia and smartphone support, poor software management, and then the somewhat heavy utilization and slow performance. Zorin is quite pretty but weary on the eyes, it tries perhaps too hard to be more than it is, and overall, the value it brings is negatively offset by the myriad papercuts of its design and the implementation of its unique style, plus the failings of the Ubuntu family. It's an okay choice, if you will, but there's nothing too special about it anymore. It's not as fun as it used to be. Gone is the character, gone is the glamor. This aligns well with the overall despair in the Linux desktop world. Maybe the official release will be better, but I doubt it. Why would suddenly one distro excel where 50 others of the same crop had failed with the exact same problems? Final grade, 5/10. Test if you like the looks, other than that, there's no incentive in really using Zorin. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Read more

PlayStation 4 hacked again? Linux shown running on 4.01 firmware

Hackers attending the GeekPwn conference in Shanghai have revealed a new exploit for PlayStation 4 running on the 4.01 firmware. In a live demo you can see below, once again the Webkit browser is utilised in order to inject the exploit, which - after a conspicuous cut in the edit - jumps to a command line prompt, after which Linux is booted. NES emulation hilarity courtesy of Super Mario Bros duly follows. Assuming the hack is authentic - and showcasing it at GeekPwn makes the odds here likely - it's the first time we've seen the PlayStation 4's system software security compromised since previous holes in the older 1.76 firmware came to light, utilised by noted hacker group fail0verflow in the first PS4 Linux demo, shown in January this year. Read more Also: 'Deus Ex: Mankind Divided' Coming To Linux In November, Mac Port On Hold

pcDuino goes quad-core, swaps Arduino for RPi compatibility

LinkSprite’s $25, 64 x 50mm “pcDuino4 Nano” SBC is a re-spin of FriendlyARM’s NanoPi M1, offering a quad-core H3, Raspberry Pi expansion, and 3x USB ports. Can you be a pcDuino without the Duino? For its latest open source pcDuino board, LinkSprite has switched from Arduino compatibility to a 40-pin Raspberry Pi expansion interface, breaking the mold of the three pcDuino SBCs, and five models total, that made it into our June HackerBoard SBC survey. The new pcDuino4 Nano, which is on pre-sale for $25, follows the $40 pcDuino3 Nano, which fell directly in the middle of the pack of our reader rankings of community-backed SBCs, but was the most popular of the pcDuino models overall. Read more

Linux 3.9 To Linux 4.9 Kernel Benchmarks: Testing The 21 Last Kernels

With the in-development Linux 4.9 kernel showing signs of some performance improvements, I've gone ahead and tested the last 21 major kernel releases on the same system. From Linux 3.9 to Linux 4.9, each of the major kernel releases was tested from the same Intel Core i7 desktop with a variety of benchmarks. Read more