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Seeking clarity on patents, EU policy, and Verizon

Plus, your theories about why Hubble is really being dropped

Letters This week, Poland stepped in, again, to stop the adoption without debate of the European Directive in computer implemented inventions. The question of what happens next is where things get tricky. The bill's opponents have called for lobbying to begin again in earnest, while its supporters have started wringing their hands about the possibly dangerous precedent of interrupting the democratic process.

"Some commentators have concerns about unpicking a common position. The common position is a point which all parties have agreed to, from which you don't backtrack."

The point here is that there is no common position YET. What's there is nothing more then what's called a "political agreement [on a common position]".

It is very important for democracy in Europe that such a political agreement can be backtracked, because that is the moment in the procedure that National Parliaments can influence the lawmaking process.

The National Parliaments must have the possibility to control their representatives, their Ministers. That's why there is such a thing as a "political agreement" in the first place. It's useless to have a procedure by which you give the National Parliaments the opportunity to check the position of their Minister, if they cannot intervene. That's would make no sense at all. That would be a "Look, but don't Touch" approach (not unlike "shared source" ;).

And the Dutch Parliament has stated crystal clear it wants to intervene. In a motion it said to the Minister that the Dutch Parliament wants it's position to be regarded as 'abstain'. This alone would make that there is no legitimate political agreement anymore. Add Poland's position to the mix, and we see a total disrespect of democracy.

Passing a political agreement for which the public knows there is no majority would set a dangerous precedent. You cannot have a Council of Ministers that willingly and knowingly ignores the authority of the National Parliaments.


I'd just like to say it might have been pointed out that:

  • Poland abstained the original vote but was randomly counted as voting for,
  • Voting weights changed due the accession of ten new member states. Continuing with legislation clearly against the interests of their local industry would have seriously called in to question the independence of the Polish government
  • Both the Dutch and German parliaments have passed motions requesting that their delegates change their votes. Because of the absolute immunity from accountability that EU officials feel they possess, they decided to ignore these requests. In any sane system, this could not happen

Contrary to the UKPTO statement, it sets an extremely dangerous precedent that this harmful legislation just keeps coming back to the table, when all the indications are that is deeply unpopular. Undemocratic railroading of pro-monopoly legislation is not the way to get people to trust Europe.

At the moment, the EU is just a mechanism for governments to push through legislation that is unwanted, and blame it on each other. I want to be pro-Europe, but I just can't be.


On Software Patents, there seems to be a lot of wishful thinking going around, on both sides.

Under qualified majority voting, no one country can block a Directive. Poland does tip the balance, adding its weight to the list of countries already unwilling to actively support the current draft Common Position. While there was an informal political agreement on a common position, it was not formally adopted and cannot be unless enough countries vote for it.

If Poland creates a blocking minority by joining the unsupportive countries, this is entirely acceptable within the rules (otherwise there would be no point in having a formal vote), while neither Poland nor anybody else can undo a Common Position that has officially been adopted. Until a formal vote has taken place, any country can change its position, although this is rare in practice.

If a Common Position is adopted, the Parliament has three months from its official transmission from the Council to the Parliament to accept, reject or amend it (and it can have an extension of one month under certain circumstances). The Parliament can only reject or amend it by absolute majority (as you've said in previous articles) while doing nothing amounts to tacit approval.

If the Parliament adopts a second reading text which is unacceptable to the Council, either a compromise is reached or the Directive is abandoned.

Joe McNamee EU Policy Director Political Intelligence

Joe adds that he has written a guide to the EU policy making process. It is a 4MB file, but well worth a look, especially if following this story is making your head hurt. So, unless you are still shackled to dial-up, point your browser here, and become enlightened.

Next up, the big issue on the other side of the pond is Verizon's unusual anti-spam policy


I read your article about Verizon's incredible decision to block emails with interest. Two weeks ago I had luckily read an email in a chatroom that gave the email address of one of Verizon's top guy's and so I emailed him.

As a result I somehow got onto a VIP list of customers. The Tech support has been incredible but the problem still remains that anyone emailing me from abroad that I haven't added to the white list will not get through.

My main complaint to Verizon is that they did not bother to alert us to what they were doing so that it took us so many weeks to realize emails weren't arriving.

For 2 weeks their tech support people denied there was a problem.... The timing couldn't have been worse given the Tsunami when so many of us were desperate for news of friends in Thailand etc.


I can understand why some Verizon customers are angry. To suddenly block emails without warning can have an extremely negative impact on a small (or large) business. I think Verizon should allow these people to break their one-year service agreement with them so these people can look for another ISP.

However, being a Verizon DSL customer who doesn't receive a lot of international email (along with the majority of Americans), anything Verizon can do to stop or even slow down spam is fine with me as long as I am told about it ahead of time. My Verizon account now has about half as much spam as my Earthlink account, so Verizon must be doing *something* right.

Bob Camp

If Verizon would switch their anti-spam policy to filtering out traffic to ports used by Windows Trojans maybe I'd have less work as an IRCop getting rid of spammers using their customers machines to spread spam.

I agree with Verizon's assessment that the ones squealing the loudest will be the spammers. I run my own mail server and if I have to block every IP but my own to stop the spam I will. I'm tired of all the hours I've forever lost having to deal with unwanted spam!


Not the people with friends/clients in the UK?

Verizon are being - what's the expression on your side of the pond, "stupid gits"? about this. If they would only bother to participate in the forums used by experienced professionals, they could have all the help they could ever want - for free - and part of that help would consist of telling them "don't do stupid things like blocking entire European countries" and "why don't you stop all the spam coming from your own network before you worry about everyone else's?"


Reports in the US that Hubble won't be fixed have not pleased Reg readers. But how could the Bush administration have reached this decision? A few suggestions:

Allowing funding for something that does not allow the US military to kill people or blow things up? Are you barking mad??

Do you know how many bullets and missiles that would buy? That money is sorely needed to fund the upcoming slaughter of the Iranian defilers so that they do not feel left out over the slaughter of Iraqi defilers.

As we all know science is a false god and that everything not mentioned in the Bible is evil, unless of course it allows for the execution of the citizens of those upstart nations that do not bow and scrape to the United States, which is backed by GOD.

We must make the sands turn red with the blood of those that defy the will of the nation ordained by God to continue the Crusades to free the Holy Lands from those that defile it and turn the area into one huge Christian nation, blessed by the glorious union of God and his emissary on this earth, George W Bush.

Only Prophet Bush has been given the vision by God to carry out this cleansing, returning the heart of Gods' Kingdom to the loving embrace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Only once the usurpers have been wiped from the face of the planet, their veins emptied into the sands can the Second Coming occur, allowing the righteous and the faithful, weapons in hand, to bask in the Glory of God with Jesus on God's Right Hand and the Holy Prophet George W Bush on God's Left Hand.

;-) Bill

Presumably Hubble has to go because it keeps taking pictures that contradict self-evident biblical truths. What use is an instrument that keeps sending back images of objects that can't possibly exist?

Scientists are all in league with Lucifer anyway. The sooner they are stamped out the happier we will all be.


It would be a bit of cosmic irony if, when Hubble de-orbits, large chunks of it impact the White House. Sadly, I don't think the orbit is that far off the equator.


BT has introduced a five quid late payment fine. Presumably this is to encourage us to stop ignoring any bill not coloured in red:

Should someone point out to them that it can take over 5 days for the bills to arrive?

What happens in these cases? For instance, it gets processed on Friday, sent for dispatch (Second class) on Friday (so it goes out on Friday) actually leaves on Saturday, then perhaps it might get through by, oh Tuesday... by my estimation that is 5 days (depending on IF you count the Friday as being the first day since technically it was "dispatched" on that day; just not handled until the Saturday). And then say you work all day and get home to find it at 5:30pm.

How do you pay it that day? All the banks are closed and any payments will be made the following business day - a day late when going on the date the bill was dispatched. Of course this assumes that the bill actually arrives in the first place...

Of course everyone could just go to Direct Debit and not have this problem, but you need a bank account first and not every can get one...


Erm, one possible solution is that you could pay the bill when it first arrives instead of waiting for the red reminder? Nah...

And they have it even worse in Spain, according to one reader:

A fiver! Is that all? Here in Spain, if you are late in paying by 1 week, you are disconnected, and there is a 15 Euro plus tax charge to reconnect. Ba*tards! I've twice been disconnected for half a day due to late payment and slow bank transfers.


Well, there you have it. At least one nation is worse off than us. Phew! ®

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