In a very worrying development, many companies and people are trying - with quite good prospects - to use the building of the new European legislation, to use loopholes and do things unimaginable in other countries.
One of the loopholes most worrying to us, programmers and computer users in general, are the almost 30000 (thirty thousand) patents pending on things of daily use. Can you image not being able to use jpeg images anymore? Or Internet payments? No more MP3s? Check The Patented European webshop for many more examples.
Have a look at the FFII pages where a demonstation is being organized for April 14th, 2004. There are also quite a few pointers to things you can do to help out!
Just to be clear about it - the new legislation does not decide on each of the 30,000 patents - it makes it generically possible to patent things which - until now - were considered non-patentable and, as a result, make the patents possible at all. Have a look at some of the legal arguments used.
Surprisingly at first, many software firms do not support software patenting. But think about it: patenting would basically make it impossible to create new software... There are millions of people at the moment that are able to program (not necessarily in some sophisticated language - using a spreadsheet is prograamming too!). How would all these people be able to check their work for patent infringement? Here's a nice text on comparing software writing to freedom of speech.
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