Innovation and Creativity Group
Transparency campaigners Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) explain:
- By the end of 2005, the C4C had transformed itself into the Innovation and Creativity Group (ICG), with the former seemingly disappearing without a trace. The Innovation and Creativity Group makes no reference to its links with the much-criticised C4C. When asked by CEO about this relationship, Simon Gentry, the key figure of C4C and now Secretary of the ICG’s board, confirmed that the Innovation and Creativity Group was intended as a follow-up to the C4C campaign. As with C4C, the Innovation and Creativity Group is run by Simon Gentry from the Campbell Gentry headquarters in London.
- While in charge of the C4C, Gentry refused to disclose the campaign’s funding sources. At the time, there were strong indications that Microsoft provided financial backing. Apparently quite different is the ICG, which on its website, promises full transparency: “Contributions in kind, in manpower and financial resources will be comprehensively declared on this site. This information will be updated quarterly.“ At the time of writing, there is no actual data about funding sources on this website. While this is contrary to the website’s claims, it does, however, represent decisions taken during the shift from C4C to ICG. For example, at the end of 2005 Gentry asked C4C supporters whether the new group should accept financial contributions from companies and at what amount should the contribution be made public. Referring to the feedback received and citing concerns about “harassment”, Gentry concluded: “We will therefore not make our list of supporters public. You also want us to respect the right of companies to make donations in private.”
- Given this background, it seems highly unlikely that full transparency about ICG funding will be forthcoming. In October 2006, when asked by CEO about the current lack of data, Gentry claimed that “no contributions, in funding or manpower have been received. Neither, for that matter has the ICG undertaken any lobbying activity.” Yet without mandatory transparency obligations for EU lobbyists it remains impossible to independently assess Gentry’s claims. However, the transformation of the C4C into the Innovation and Creativity Group does not appear to have been particularly successful. The group’s low profile and activity level indicate that Gentry may indeed have failed to secure significant corporate donations. Yet in terms of reporting on its financial donations, at the very least Campbell Gentry, Simon Gentry’s public affairs firm, is contributing “in kind” and this is not mentioned on the ICG website.
MEPs on board
CEO also reveal the MEPs involved with Gentry:
- In July 2005, talking about the parliamentary debate which took place the day before MEPs voted on the software directive, Gentry noted how, “a number of MEPs excelled in putting the case for our side of the argument. In particular, Arlene McCarthy, Socialist, Sharon Bowles Liberal Democrat – and a patent lawyer – followed by Malcolm Harbour – Christian Democrat, all of whom laid out the case effectively and clearly. There were of course many others supporting our case but these three stood out.” Two of them, Bowles and McCarthy (together with Conservative Paul Rubig) sit on the ICG board, and Harbour (with Dutch MEP Toine Manders, a former patent lawyer) is listed in the group’s membership.
- The software directive’s rapporteur, Socialist MEP Arlene McCarthy was much criticised by anti-patent groups for pursuing the agenda of big business. McCarthy has been in the parliament since 1994 and until 2005 was on the board of Sovereign Strategy, whose services include, “counselling and influencing/shaping domestic and European public policies.” It was from Malcolm Harbour’s office and email address that the C4C sent emails to all MEPs on June 2005 inviting them to free ice cream and a chat on the wonders of the software patents. The ICG Chair Sharon Bowles is a patent lawyer at Bowles Horton, a patent attorney firm specialising in electronics and has major companies on their books. Bowles actively tried to get the software directive through and she is now working with MEP Klaus Lehne who is the biggest defender of Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy’s controversial proposal for a single patent law in Europe.
- ^ The Campaign for Creativity’s former web address (www.campaignforcreativity.org)redirects to the web site of Campbell Gentry, where the only mention is an outdated statement: “Campbell Gentry is delighted to be working with the Campaign for Creativity to defend intellectual property rights in Europe. For more information about the campaign please visit www.campaignforcreativity.org”. And if you click http://campaignforcreativity.org then you are redirected to the site of Advocacy on line, which hosts ad-hoc internet lobbying campaigns.
- ^ http://www.innovationandcreativity.org.
- ^ Simon Gentry in an e-mail to CEO, 27 October 2006.
- ^ http://www.innovationandcreativity.org/funding.htm.
- ^ Whether to make supporters names public was also discussed. Compiling the replies Gentry listed as a key point “You are content to have corporate sponsors and to make ‘significant’ donations public. However, you are concerned about potential harassment (a number of examples of harassment by the supporters of anti-IP groups were provided – and we have plenty of our own!). We will therefore not make our list of supporters public. You also want us to respect the right of companies to make donations in private to protect them and their staff from harassment.” The future: Phase II consultation open now, posted on 12 September 2005, http://europeansoftwarepatents.blogspot.com/.
- ^ Gentry posed a concrete question: “This approach would fall short of the demands for total transparency sought by some critics of the Campaign for Creativity. Are you content to ignore these demands for transparency?” The future: Phase II consultation open now, posted on 12 September 2005, (http://europeansoft warepatents.blogspot.com/).
- ^ Simon Gentry in an e-mail to CEO, 27th October 2006.
- ^ Corporate Europe Observatory, How the Campaign for Creativity morphed into the Innovation and Creativity Group: habits of deception die hard, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), November 2006
- ^ Posted on Wednesday July 6 2005 The fat lady sang sweetly – A personal message.
- ^ Critics argue that the proposed European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) will de facto legalise software patents. See for instance the FFII wiki on the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA).