Microsoft denies threatening Denmark over patents

Rejects newspaper report that Bill Gates threatened to pull jobs out of country over controversial European Union patent measure.

Microsoft has denied threatening to take jobs away from Denmark if the Danish government opposed a controversial European Union directive involving patents and software.

Danish financial newspaper Borsen reported on Tuesday that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told the Danish prime minister that he would move all 800 jobs at Navision, a Danish company acquired by Microsoft in 2002, to the United States unless the EU adopted the computer-implemented inventions directive.

Klaus Holse Andersen
VP, Microsoft

Proponents of the directive say it would simplify trade by standardizing national laws and clarifying what, exactly, can and can't be patented. Opponents say that by, in the words of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, "imposing U.S.-style unlimited patentability," the directive would put power in the hands of megacorporations and stifle innovation. The directive, and the general issue of patents, have become hot-button topics in the debate over open-source versus proprietary software.

The European vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions, Klaus Holse Andersen, denied on Tuesday that the jobs at Navision were ever at risk.

"No, that is not what he said in the meeting," Andersen told ZDNet UK. "There is no plan for us to close down the site."

Andersen said the issue of patents had been discussed at the meeting but that this was not related to the jobs at Navision, which is based at Vedbaek in Denmark.

"There has been a general discussion on patents, and this has gone on in many offices," Andersen said. "We are very much pro the patent law. How (Borsen) made the connection to the Vedbaek site, I'm not sure."

Following the Borsen report, the Social Democrats, the main opposition party in Denmark, issued a press release entitled, "Blackmail

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