Conflict of interests of political party president in softwarepatents issue in the EU

Posted by hkwint on Jun 26, 2005 6:32 AM
LXer; By Hans Kwint

25 June 2005 -- German web fora have been agitated by online discussions and news articles about apparent interest conflicts of Klaus Heiner Lehne MEP, who, as a coordinator of the European People's Party in the Legal Affairs Committee, strongly opposed all amendments that had any limiting effect on patentability or enforcability, and actively fought in JURI as well as in Berlin and elsewhere for widest possible patentability (which also means patentability of software). It now appears that Lehne works as a Brussels lobbying consultant for multinational corporations who are the main clients of one of the leading lawfirms for patent litigation in Europe, which is also itself involved in patent lobbying and closely connected to lobbying organisations. (Quoted from ffii.org)

(Background info to the issue by Hans Kwint):
As you might now, big companies like Microsoft, are trying to make it possible throughout Europe to patent 'computer implemented' inventions, which might also be pure software. A common position was reached by the Ministers of the separate EU countries about a new patent directive for the whole EU. The intention was to prevent patenting of software, especially by large companies.
However, opponents of software patents say this directive still enables companies to patent pure software. Then came Mr. Rocard, the chairman of the European Parliament's Cultural Affairs Commission (CULT). He said "data processing is not a field of technology", and as a consequence, it must be impossible to patent pure software. So he made amendements to the directive to prevent patentability of software.
Next, JURI (the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament) had to vote about this amendements, which were supported by at least 800 SME's in Europe, and many members of the European Parliament that were not in JURI. However, many of the Rocard-amendements were refused on the 20th of june, because a majority of JURI voted againts. Amongst them was Klaus Heiner Lehne.
There are 26 members of the JURI, and 11 thereof are member of the European People Party. Leader of that 11 persons is Klaus H. Lehne. He's from the city of Dusseldorf in Germany, where many jurists live. Now, there's controversy, because he seems to be working for a lobby firm which also works for big multinationals, for example Microsoft is indirectly amongst them.

(From FFII.org:) The discussions began with a posting in the Heise web forum which led to further investigations by some readers and a public letter of an SME initiative in Lehne's home region, which again spread to a Heise article and articles in other leading IT newsmedia as well as in collected all these findings.

According to these findings, Lehne joined the Brussels and Düsseldorf offices of the international law firm Taylor Wessing as an MEP in September 2003, to become a partner and head of the division on "regulatory affairs", whose main job appears to be "strategy consulting" for companies that take special interest in the future direction of EU legislation. The main focus of Taylor Wessing is patent litigation, especially at the service of multinational companies. Taylor Wessing is also one of a few privileged companies who offer specially favorable conditions for the members of a German association BVDW, which is known to be a proxy of Microsoft.

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