Danish financial newspaper Børsen reports that Microsoft founder Bill Gates threatened the Danish government in connection with software patents. According to the article, Gates told Rasmussen and two Danish ministers in November that he would kill all 800 jobs in Navision, a Danish company acquired by Microsoft in 2002, unless the EU were to quickly decide to legalize software patents through a directive. Denmark is a country with only 5 million inhabitants and a relatively small high-tech sector to which the loss of 800 jobs would have significant implications.
Lovely — a blunt blackmail attempt. The article goes on:
It would not be the first threat of its kind. A group of large corporations including Philips is reported to have previously threatened European governments to outsource all of their European software development jobs to low-wage countries unless the EU were to allow patents on software through the directive that is currently being worked on.
In January, leading Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported on a letter addressed by the Polish subsidiaries of Siemens, Nokia, Philips, Ericsson and Alcatel to Poland’s prime minister Marek Belka … it is said to have indicated that the respective companies would reconsider making investments in Poland if the Polish government upheld its resistance to the legalization of software patents in the EU.
Again, note the FUD-busting on this point. I notice that Florian Mueller of NoSoftwarePatents.comhas a a good one-liner response along the same lines — ‘The country in which you develop a technology has nothing to do with where you can take out patents.’ He goes on:
If they move jobs to Asia, they won’t get a single additional patent, neither in Asia nor in Europe. If you warn politicians of consequences that are directly related to a legislative issue, that’s acceptable. If you threaten with causing damage that has no factual connection whatsoever, then it’s blackmail. Plain and simple.