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Linux Journal: Recapping Parliamentary Meeting on Patents in the Netherlands

Feb 21, 2001, 15:40 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brenno J.S.A.A.F. De Winter)

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"A parliamentary committee in the Netherlands has decided to oppose business methods patents entirely, and to also oppose software patents unless proponents can meet several difficult, possibly unattainable, conditions. Following a proposal suggested by Rik Hindriks of the Dutch Labor Party, the pro-software-patent Federation of Dutch IT companies, FENIT and the anti-software-patent Dutch Open Source Association will have to work together on a plan to prevent trivial patents from issuing. If they cannot come up with one, the Netherlands will oppose software patents in Europe entirely, rather than set off a US-style software patent crisis."

"FENIT claims that software patents will enable innovation, and VOSN claims that they will restrict the evolution of software. After gathering information and doing some own research, the committee found that the Netherlands would vote in favor of software patents in Europe only if restrictive conditions can be met. These conditions should exclude very obvious and trivial patents. Each patent would have to be researched for bringing something really new to market, which is required now as well, but is not done currently. The holders of 30,000 existing software-related patents would have to refile."

"A European patent treaty dating from 1973 explicitly excludes patents on software. Since then, however, the European Patent Office has granted around 30,000 alleged software patents. A prominent example is IBM's patent EP0644483, which describes how a computer can run multiple processes at the same time -- multitasking. (The patent dates from after the introduction of UNIX.)"

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