An article about European election voting in The Register claims that “Broadly speaking, no one except the Labour party is even remotely happy with the current form of the [software patents] directive.” Sadly, this view of the situation is too rosy.
For example, she says the Tories “have their doubts”, but then quotes Malcolm Harbour, Tory MEP, as saying “We need to find a formulation that clarifies patentability, but my concern is that people think this is entirely new legislation. The problem with the parliamentary amendments was that they introduced new concepts of patentability which would have made the directive even more confusing and unworkable. We need a formulation that will exclude business methods, but will still protect inventors.”
Translation: “we support the directive, which isn’t really very much of a change anyway, and those pesky patent-limiting amendments that the European Parliament introduced cause more problems than they solve.”
If you look at the previous voting records of UK MEPs, you’ll find that all the Tories, apart from four principled holdouts, voted for software patenting, and so did the Lib Dems. Lib Dem MEPs appear to be acting contrary to party policy – the UK parliamentary party is opposed. It could be that, next time round, the party will get their MEPs in line – but it can’t be guaranteed.
So, the message remains the same: if you want to be sure you are voting against software patents, vote Green or UKIP.
In my area (London), Jean Lambert is standing for re-election for the Greens. She voted against last time, so despite my reservations about further European integration, I think I will vote for her.
Update: The Register published my letter.