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European Commission Consultations

by Laurent GUERBY Tue Jul 11th, 2006 at 04:45:47 PM EST

To those who still believe they can get something out of those "consultations", here are a few wise words from grassroot activists who have been working on the subject for a few years:


From an FFII Press Release:


Brussels, 10 July 2006 - The Commission made an undercover move to get more "useful" answers following the 12 April closing date of its Patent Policy consultation. It sought out small firms across Europe who had used the patent system. It then provided these firms with new documentation and specialist assistance to help them write individual answers. None of the firms answering the online consultation got this help. But when the software firms in this new group came to the same conclusions as the FFII, the Commission concluded that these firms were "lacking knowledge about the patent system".

FFII researcher Benjamin Henrion, who uncovered the facts says, "The Commission published its procedures for the consultation, and on this basis many hundreds of people invested time and money to answer. At the FFII we invested several hundred man days to prepare a collective answer supported by over a thousand SMEs. Now we learn that the Commission changed the rules, after the close of the consultation."

"It selected over 600 SMEs who were known to hold patents or be involved in patent litigation, and helped them to answer by providing expert assistance. Finally, it discounted our collective answers, and promoted its own SME answers", he continues. FFII president Pieter Hintjens adds: "If the Commission wanted to delay the proceedings to get more SME input, it should have followed our recommendations."

During the consultation, the FFII documented many faults with the consultation in an open letter, and made suggestions for fixing these. Hintjens continues: "The Commission's behaviour is inconsistent with its pretended role as a neutral party. It puts a strong shadow over the credibility of the consultation procedure and any results the Commission may announce."

Ironically, the responses from the Commission's ICT SME sample nevertheless match the FFII's conclusion. They see the danger of software patents being legalized European-wide by the back door via both the Community Patent and the EPLA initiatives. The Commission however discredits this opinion by claiming these SMEs lack understanding of the patent system.

"Speaking as an SME, I'm outraged that while I had to spend huge amounts of time trying to understand this document, some patent-holding non-producing entity got secret financial assistance from the Commission to write an answer" concludes Hintjens, who is also CEO of iMatix Corporation.

Good luck.

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So what do you suggest?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 11th, 2006 at 05:16:30 PM EST
  1. Lobby MEP so that they reverse the text in first reading with amendments
  2. Council will revert again to the original proposal, commission will applaude and say MEP shouldn't listen to citizens who obviously don't understand anything and fall for commies tricks
  3. Lobby MEP so that they reject the text in second reading.
  4. Next directive, goto 1.
by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 03:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need to be in the consultation as well though: when you go lobbying MEPs you can tell them that you did make your views clear but they were ignored by the Commission. I suspect most MEPs would sympathise!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 03:44:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the commission already ignores MEP views :).

What we found out is that it's about useless to try to reach the commission for a grassroot movement (ut we did participate and petition to commission-organised mascarades. MEP are usually listening to their citizens.

The problem is that MEP only have the power to reject a directive proposal (with quite high difficulty and only in second reading) and nothing else, even if they understand and sympathise with your ideas.

by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 07:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to fight at national level as well...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 08:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the commission already ignores MEP views :).

Not quite...

the rejection of the Council common position is the democratic right of Parliament as co-legislator with the Council. Many speakers during the debate yesterday mentioned the voice of the people and the role of democracy.

Without this directive, patents for computer-implemented inventions will continue to be issued by national patent offices and the European Patent Office under existing law. There will be no harmonisation at EU level.

(Applause)

This means that different interpretations as to what is patentable or not will continue without any judicial control by the European Court of Justice.

Since the adoption of the common position, the Commission has maintained the view that, should Parliament decide to reject the common position, the Commission would respect this and would not present a new proposal but, if Parliament invites us to do so, we will speak with the various parliamentary committees and then consider the next procedures.

Various Members have expressed the view that the Commission should present a non-sector-specific instrument and that it should seek the adoption of the Community patent.



Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 08:09:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nor in the case of the Bolkenstein Directive.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 08:15:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is one thing we can get out of the EU consultations. Either we see our opinion taken into account, or we convince Jerome that the EU is undemocratic. </snark>

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 11th, 2006 at 07:41:35 PM EST
Is the European Patent Consultation under the purview of Commissioner McCreevy?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 11th, 2006 at 07:43:26 PM EST
Yes.
by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 03:33:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that explains it.

First of all, in the EU Internal Market homepage, "consultations" appear only on the "business" side, not on the "citizen" side. Second of all, have you seen the European Business Test Panel website?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 03:49:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, Laurent, I only just saw this.

To those who still believe they can get something out of those "consultations",

Take a look at what I write in my diary Working Together (Part One), where I point out that we may not be having any influence by participating in a consultation, but that it may be useful for us to do so, if only because it makes us focus on a policy question and produce some concentrated work on it.

Also, if you read my first biofuels diary, where I set the background as I understand it, you'll see I immediately pitch the question as part of a battle between powerful lobbies. I don't pretend we are going to have a significant voice in shaping policy in the middle of that.

Frankly, I don't think anyone here is starry-eyed about the Commission or its supposed openness to citizens' points of view.

OTOH, the logic of your position seems to hold out little hope:

  1. the Commission doesn't listen to citizens;
  2. so we should lobby MEPs;
  3. but the Commission doesn't listen to MEPs.

=> it would seem to follow there's nothing for it but to clear out the Commission and get new institutions.

Good luck :-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 12th, 2006 at 08:43:53 AM EST


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