Klaus-Heiner Lehne: software patent legislator and lobbying consultant

Klaus-Heiner Lehne is a lawyer from Germany and Member of the European Parliament (MEP), elected with the Christian Democrats (CDU) which is part of the European People's Party (EPP). Lehne has been energetically pushing for unlimited patentability of software and has an active role as the coordinator of the EPP's parliamentary group in the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI).

Already being an MEP, Lehne joined the law firm Taylor Wessing in 2003 as a partner and became the head of the "regulatory affairs" department, whose job is to advise corporate customers about future directions of EU legislation. In other words, besides his active and public function as MEP, he is hired by corporate interests.

Another leading member of his department is Andreas Haak, who seems to have retained his accreditation as Lehne's assistant for a while even after assuming the new post in the office with Lehne.

The bulk of Taylor Wessing's business appears to be in patent litigation for large companies. Taylor Wessing has special business relations with patent lobby organisations, offering their members reductions in fees. Parts of Lehne's speeches and amendments come directly from Siemens and UNICE. Siemens' lobbyists are well-known guests in Lehne's office while representatives of SME in Lehne's home region have been complaining about inability to receive any appointments. Lehne has for a long time been responsible for transparency rules in the European Parliament.

News and Chronology

  • 2005-07-06 - FFII: EPP MEP labels 500 German entrepreneurs as "lackeys of Asia and America"
  • 2005-07-05 - In the plenary debate, Lehne claims once more that !SMEs from his region want software patents, prompting SME reactions, and advocates rejection of the directive in order to prevent success of the Rocard-Buzek-Duff amendments.
  • 2005-07-05 - The Wall Street Journal Europe (VOL. XXIII NO.108 July 5th, 2005) reports about Lehne's double role as patent legislator and patent industry lobbyist
  • 2005-07-05 - Lehne lawfirm partner: Directive will give us US-style software patents
  • 2005-07-04 - Lehne article in Parliamentary Magazine: collection of old and new lies, now pretending that "there is a broad consensus among !MEPs about the aims of the directive", this aim being to "strengthen the position of European software inventors", while opposing patentability of software.
  • 2005-07-03 - SZ-Online: "The current proposal is the best that is achievable", says EPP-law expert Klaus Heiner Lehne, "but we all know, that nobody likes it."
  • 2005-06-30 - Lehne answers accusations (German "Die Tageszeitung" Artikel): "In no way I am bound to an enterprise, which is involved in the struggle over this patent directive, in my work as attorney"
  • 2005-06-26 - Lenz Blog: "Patentanwalt" is not an Insult (finds Lehne's shady job as a lobbyist to be incompatible with his position as an MEP)
  • 2005-06-25 - FFII updates and summarises Lehne documentation in English
  • 2005-06-24 - PA Horns accuses FFII of "ad-hominem attacks" against Lehne, points out errors in reports which are not connected to FFII, assigns those errors to FFII without referring to FFII texts.
  • 2005-06-24 - Der Standard: Europe's conservatives under attack due to software patents (erroneously characterises Lehne as "patent attorney")
  • 2005-06-24 - Golem: Software patents: Animosity against CDU member Klaus-Heiner Lehne
  • 2005-06-24 - Heise reader finds 3 infringements of European software patents on Lehne's web site.
  • 2005-06-23 - Further Reports on Lehne's conflicts on interests: Indymedia, Quintessenz.at
  • 2005-06-23 - Heise: Software patents: coordinator of EPP under fire (includes information from this very site)
  • 2005-06-23 - Enterpreneurs' initiative in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) complains to MEP colleagues and media about Lehne's continuing rejection of any dialogue
  • 2005-06-21 - Computerworld quotes Lehne: "Rocard proposals would have taken Europe back to the 1960s, endangering Europe as an industry location" (in fact Rocard proposals are fully in line with EPO practise before 1986 and with much of today's national practise. Key proposals from Lehne codify EPO practise of 1998 and later)
  • 2005-06-21 - Press release of Lehne (in German): Continues to claim he would not make "software as such" patentable, talks about a "compromise" between industry and software companies (PDF)
  • 2005-06-21 - Heise reader points out Lehne's participation in law firm Taylor Wessing and conflicts of interest
  • 2005-06-20 - Lehne exerts strong influence on EPP colleagues, enforces extreme positions in JURI, see also recording of Lehne's speech (mp3, German)
  • 2005-06-06 - German ministry of Justice's patent officers reject position of German CDU (parlamentary party), support instead Lehne's amendments. Parts of these amendments simply bloat the current text with further tautologies and inconsistencies, other parts follow Siemens' extreme positions which are disputed even among the core group within the large IT companies.
  • 2005-06-02 - EPP Hearing: Lehne is titled "coordinator" of the group, in concluding remarks complains about "sectarian" lobbying which aims to undermine the patent system as a whole
  • 2005-05-00 - Lehne is unreachable for SMEs from his home region, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW): "Thanks for your message. Unfortunately, it is totally impossible for me to talk to you on our electoral party convention about software patents. Thanks for your understanding. For your information, I include my press release of yesterday. Best regards." This continues until end of June. At the same time, Lehne explains to colleagues that SMEs in the region want to have software patents.
  • 2005-05-04 - Lehne submits amendments 67 96 133 136 150 151 152 153 165 172 176 177 180 194 205 218 228 240 248 (see FFII criticism to some of them)
  • 2005-04-21 - JURI debate: Lehne approvingly reads out patent lobby propaganda statements, claims that foundations of industry are endangered by Parliament's 1st reading
  • 2005-02-04 - Xinhua quotes Lehne: "We are in danger of reaching a stage that would radically limit the patentability of inventions"
  • 2005-02-03 - Lehne calls on Commission to withdraw the directive (because, given the current mood, there is a danger that the Parliament might excessively limit patentability)
  • 2005-01-19 - Lehne postpones restart discussion at JURI meeting in response to McCreevy's request
  • 2003-09-24 - Lehne votes against limitations on patenting software
  • 2003-09-15 - Taylor Wessing: Press Release about Klaus-Heiner Lehne's entry into the law firm in the newly founded area of "Regulatory Affairs", together with his consultant Haak.
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