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FIE Meeting, June 22 – Dublin

As the EU recognised us as the official representative of the ICT Aftermarket, it is our responsibility to connect with the organisations which voice we are. To share information, concerns and experiences we see personal meetings as very valuable and prefer a smaller and confidential setting.

We are pleased to invite you for our upcoming Free ICT Europe Foundation meeting: June 22nd – Dublin, Ireland

The meeting will be hosted by Origina Ltd., their office is at a 30 min drive from Dublin Airport. The meeting will start at 13.00pm

Why?

Your questions might be: What is happening in your Marketplace? What will be the impact on your business and strategy?

The foundation started based on concerns and the will to do something. We moved from creation awareness to actually becoming a part of changes in legislation. To move on, we need input and support.

This is no commercial gathering. Free ICT Europe unites, though takes no part in commercial partnerships and/or deals.

For Who?

We invite directors and management to join for this meeting. When you want to be accompanied with your Legal advisor, this is possible.

Though we see that our efforts are appreciated by end-users, we do not invite them for this meeting.

Confirm your attendence!

You can register by contacting us by e-mail or the contact form. No costs involved for the meeting: we are a guest of Origina, for the dinner we ask all to pay for themselves.

Out suggesting for the hotel is: The Beacon Hotel, 4 stars, distance 700m. We gladly support with the hotel reservation using our special rate(until May 19th).

Looking forward to speak to you in Dublin.

 

Round Table Barriers for Maintenance, Brussels – September 22

Free ICT Europe invite you to participate in an industry round table with Daniel Dalton, MEP  in the morning of 22 September 2015 at Hume Brophy, Rue de la Science 41, Brussels 1040, Belgium

Removing Barriers to Third Party Support and Maintenance

Issues:
Users of ICT systems find themselves in an unenviable position of having invested significantly in ICT systems and software but lacking the full ownership rights that should accompany that ownership.

Restrictive practices, such as the use of intellectual property rights by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to limit choices and the deliberately complicated software contract/licensing rules set by software publishers, limits the freedom of businesses and consumers alike to choose their providers of product, and of support and maintenance services, resulting in higher costs for European businesses.

In order to address current barriers, and facilitate a strong secondary market for ICT, it is crucial that legislators are made aware of the restrictive practices that are inhibiting the development of an open and sustainable secondary market. These practices range from fees for secondary market products sourced through OEM channels, to retrospective licensing of firmware, all of which, are equally damaging in impact.

It is of the utmost urgency that stakeholders join together to promote common standards for the reuse and resale of equipment and software as the repercussions of allowing the status quo to continue unchallenged, are likely to prove detrimental for European businesses and the European economy as a whole.

Free ICT Europe believes in a competitive secondary ICT market that supports European businesses and increases competitiveness. As drivers of ICT efficiency, independent outsource companies have a lot to gain from ensuring that there is a vibrant and successful secondary market for ICT products and services.

Action:
Free ICT Europe are bringing together stakeholders for an industry round table discussion with Daniel Dalton MEP from the Internal Market and Consumer Affairs Committee (IMCO) of the European Parliament to facilitate an exchange of views and raise industry concerns directly.

As a leading participant in this industry we would like to extend to you the opportunity to participate in this industry roundtable and communicate your concerns directly with our guest, Daniel Dalton MEP.

Who should attend:
This invite-only event is of particular interest to outsourcers, providers of third party support and maintenance services, and professions in the IT sector who are interested in open, competitive, markets to support growth in our industry.

The event shall be held at the offices of Hume Brophy, located in the heart of Brussels at 41 Rue de la Science, Bruxelles 1040, Belgium.

To confirm your participation please email: brussels-events@humebrophy.com

MEP –Daniel Dalton: Daniel Dalton is a UK MEP from the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

A first time MEP he has established himself as a hard working and proactive member of the Internal Market with a particular interest in the ICT and information sectors.
Agenda

08:15 – Welcome and breakfast
08:30 – The case for an ICT Secondary market
Free ICT Europe will explain why European companies stand to benefit from the support and development of a truly competitive secondary market for ICT support and maintenance.

08:50 – Parliament perspective. Daniel Dalton MEP
Daniel Dalton MEP will provide participants with his perspective as an MEP and member of the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament, how politicians can support this campaign.

09:15 – Roundtable discussion.
Participants will have an opportunity to raise points of concern and discuss possible ways forward to support a competitive secondary market.

09:45 – 11:00 – Open industry forum

Participants will have an opportunity to discuss the specifics of their concerns and raise solutions to be considered by Free ICT Europe.

All participants will receive a summary report on the topics of discussion and issues raised at the roundtable.

To confirm your participation please email: brussels-events@humebrophy.com

Independent Industry Alliance Launches to Champion Secondary IT Market in Europe

Free ICT Europe (FIE) established to support industry expected to be worth €90bn, providing an additional 100,000 European jobs by 2017

 

A group of independent European IT services operators have announced the formation of an international alliance, established in order to champion the growth of the secondary IT market in Europe and to raise awareness of common industry issues. Free ICT Europe (FIE) represents members of the IT aftermarket. It aims to secure the right of ownership and the freedom for consumers and businesses alike to freely choose their sales, maintenance and repair providers.

 

The ICT secondary market is a critical source of value for European SMEs, multinational companies and publicly owned entities. Ensuring access to locally sourced ICT services and products enable organisations to extend the life and improve the service to ICT assets while realising better value. More than €10bn is saved each year by organisations operating in Europe as a result of the value and competition delivered by local European companies.

 

FIE works to address the restrictive and unfair practices undertaken by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), that prevent customers from having the freedom to support, repair and resell IT equipment and software.

 

Mainly composed of independent SMEs and representing over 50,000 European jobs in a market worth €30bn, the secondary IT market is characterized by a highly skilled European based workforce, serving local businesses. With the emergence of a software secondary market, the potential growth of this sector is expected to be worth €90bn and an additional 100,000 European jobs by 2017.

 

Christina Van Oostrum, President of Free ICT Europe commented, “FIE was formed in light of the challenges faced by our customers, and we are proud to provide a united voice for the industry to address the uncompetitive activities of OEMs. Their opaque practices lead to significant economic, social and environmental consequences for customers and Europe as a whole.”

 

“Above all, we want to ensure the provision of a local, reliable service to customers that represents value for money. FIE will work to safeguard the existence of the valuable European ICT secondary market by championing transparency, consumer rights, and the freedom of choice to support, repair and resell.”

IBM Reserves the right to change, modify its offerings, policies and practices at any time

Though they’re gone through a number of iterations I’ve read these words so many times it feels as if they are scorched onto my retina; IBM’s much vaunted reason for doing precisely what they please, when they please. You’ll find it on any documentation or emails or notices relating to microcode restrictions, as if it magically underpins all the other words around it & gives those other words authority. But what does it actually mean?

Well in its very simplest terms it means that you can never trust what IBM tell you because what they tell you today may very well be true today, but it might not be tomorrow. When you stop & think about that for a moment, it’s seems almost unbelievable that any company or organisation would be so bold about such a policy & openly advertise the fact. Yes, we all know that companies change the way they do things for their own benefit & organisations can spin their words to retrospectively match their deeds, just think of a politician if you need convincing. But I wonder how far a political party would get if their manifesto included the words “we reserve the right to go back on everything we told you before the election & do something completely different after it, which will be to the benefit of us & not you”; not very far I bet & yet, that is basically the message that IBM are openly advertising.

I can only think of a couple of reasons why anyone at IBM would think such a statement is ok, one pretty sinister & the other almost makes me feel sorry for them (I did say almost).

The first is a stark yet simple one, & that is IBM hold in contempt every other body they have dealings with; that’s employees, customers, governments, every one. Don’t forget that many of IBM’s big revenues come from government contracts paid for by taxpayers, so that list of contempt includes the ordinary taxpaying citizen of every country in which they operate. How can anyone within IBM think that this is a satisfactory state of affairs? Well it seems a company once obsessed with its public image now simply doesn’t care how it’s seen, from the benevolent to malevolent with fifteen little words, only interested in squeezing as much out of everything it touches no matter what the long term cost.

The second came to me whilst listening to a debate on the radio regarding the price of Premiership football tickets; one participant said something on the lines of “any club that relies solely on the loyalty of their fans, that uses & abuses that loyalty, will ultimately fail”. Replace club with IBM & fan with customer & the end result will be the same, it may be a long one but IBM is on the road of terminal decline; the once greatest computer company in the world strangled by its own greed & it’s that which saddens me.

The words themselves do beg the question that if IBM has the right to do what they are doing then why do those rights need reserving, why don’t they just get on with it? The answer to that is simple, it’s legalistic claptrap meant to sound menacing & give the words an air of legality. Of course I’m not saying that IBM can’t do this or that it’s illegal, a company can do pretty much what it wants; but just saying it does not necessarily make the changes to policy & procedure themselves legal; similarly if a customer chose to ignore the policy & procedure changes that of itself is not necessarily illegal either. In both cases that would be down to a judicial decision which would need a customer to legally challenge the changes, an occurrence that IBM are probably safe in betting against anyone being bold enough to do.

Now I am no lawyer but where I do think it’s very dubious is when IBM tries to enforce their policy & procedure changes retrospectively. Surely when a customer buys something from a supplier, that transaction is a contract & as such comes with obligations from both parties for as long as the something is in use. I think the very least any purchaser of a something has a right to expect is that the terms & everything that those terms implied remain in effect for the lifetime of the something. Altering policies & procedures that materially change the contract of purchase has, in my view, to be illegal; & if it’s not then it should be!

Having said that I suppose if an organisation signed up to the statement they would be bound into allowing IBM to whatever, whenever they wanted but who would knowingly sign up to such a thing & where would they sign? Well thinking of the fundamental nature of the effect this statement would have on the way two organisations deal with each other that this would be an elementary clause in any contract that governed their relationship; there is such a contract between IBM & all of its customers called the IBM Customer Agreement (ICA) & it’s where you would expect to find it, but I can’t & I’ve looked very hard.

So where does all this leave us? As someone that works in the IT Secondary Market I could be forgiven for thinking that IBM were out to get me & my livelihood, but it’s not deliberate, it’s merely a side effect of a company that’s lost its way & is floundering in a market it doesn’t understand anymore; most IBM customers I speak too feel even more strongly than I that IBM is out to get them by tying their hands & removing their freedom of choice but again it’s not deliberate, it’s another side effect of a company that has forgotten who is King in the supplier/customer relationship. It’s probably best summed up by the words of Napoleon Bonaparte “never attribute to malice what can easily be accounted for by incompetence”………..how very apt Mr B.