Arlene McCarthy answers in an article in the Guardian to the recent attack on her project to sell out the European software industry to the American software patent lobby by Richard Stallman and Nick Hill.
There is not much of a new idea in that article, so most of its arguments are already dealt with by what what I have said before about her position.
Therefore, I will focus only on the question of international competition.
"We must legislate to ensure our inventors are not put at a disadvantage in the global market place. If we fail to offer European industry the possibility of patent protection, we will hand over our inventiveness and creativity to big business, who can cherrypick ideas and patent them. The perverse outcome would be that European originators of those inventions face infringements proceedings from the big players. It is this that will lead to job losses, less choice and higher prices!
If we fail to provide the possibility of patent protection, no one can get software patents in Europe. No Europeans, no Americans, not IBM or Microsoft, not a college student with an idea. Nobody.
The idea that software patents in Europe will only be applied for by Europeans and software patents in the U.S. only by Americans is obviously not correct. Actually, most of the illegally granted software patents in Europe are secured by American software firms.
So how exactly is "big business" supposed to "cherry-pick and patent"?
McCarthy's text could be read to make some sense if you understand "cherry-pick and patent" as "patent in the U.S." (or some other country that has legalized software patents).
But if big business can do so, the original European developer can apply for a patent in the U.S. as well. At less cost as for a European patent.
So let's try to get this right.
If McCarthy's proposal of legalizing software patents sails through, everybody can start enforcing software patents in Europe with infringement lawsuits. Americans, Europeans, Asians, big business, high school students, everyone.
But that's only the theoretical side.
In practice, most of the illegally granted European software patents are owned by American companies. The practical effect of McCarthy's proposal will be a large net flow of license payments from the European to the American software industry.
I fail to see how that will contribute to the competitiveness of the European industry.
So it's exactly the other way around. McCarthy says she's concerned that Europeans should not be at a disadvantage. But her proposal, far from removing any disadvantage, will place an additional burden on European firms in their race to catch up with the American software industry.