MP3 Issue

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Tue Sep 3 21:11:16 UTC 2002

El Wed, Aug 28, 2002 at 01:24:41PM +0200, Eike Lange deia:
> Hi!
> On Wed, Aug 28, 2002 at 10:43:29AM +0100, Martyn Ranyard wrote:
> > Thompson and Fraunhoffer have a patent (at least in the US) that covers the 
> > MP3 algorithm.  Is it enforcable outside the US?
> > Fraunhoffer are a German company - does Germany allow Software and 
> > Algorithm patents?

> It seems, it's more a point of European law, which is actually
> discordant in this point. We have 30.000 softwarepatents in Europe and
> they are valid, AFAIK.

The member states of the European Patent Office (EPO) do not seem to have 
different laws. All their laws reject software patents. Some do not even 
include the "as such" clause that is redundant but abused by the EPO.

The problem is the European Patent Office and at least some state patent
offices disregard the written law by creative interpration and grant those 
patents. That creates legal uncertanity in that any software patent might 
in principle be held valid by a judge that buys the EPO misinterpretation 
since EPO might be assumed to "know what is doing"
or invalid by a judge that applies the European Patent Convention.

It is the European Comission which says that the situation is
different in the member states as an excuse for a directive. In fact
the laws are the same.  The only difference is jurisprudence or lack
of, introduced by this EPO misbehaviour. See 

> Please have a look at

> Please write to your European representatives and ask him to say "NO!"
> to softwarepatents.


Talking to Fraunhoffer Institute about licensing terms for MP3 is 
not scalable. There are thousands of patents to deal with, and more 
are coming. We must make sure European law is preserved and respected,
and swpats remain illegal and stop issuing.

This autumn/winter will be very decisive. It is important to 
inform oneself and inform your representatives (MEPs, MPs who can press 
member state governments and whatever ministery deals with Internal Market
in the European Council -maybe commerce, economy...-)

I try to put the information I get on the decision process (organs and 
therefore people and forums) and timing at

but since is currently suffering hardware problems, you can temporary 
find it at

If you write to representatives please:

1.- Try to digest some information before

2.- Coordinate with Eurolinux, who can help you. Maybe you can send
them the message you would like to send to MEPs, for instance. It will
be most useful if all decision makers are contacted and engaged in discussion, 
not only a few are flooded.

3.- Ask them to reject the software patentability directive as presented, 
or adopt the alternative text in

4.- Find out who is representing your member state in the Concil
discussions, and complain that the European Commission is represented
by the EPO, who is clearly not neutral (the same for some member
states and state patent offices, it seems).

It is important to teach politicians what software is and why patents
can't be applied to logical/intellectual/abstract creations. We can
still win this one. In most cases the politicians simply don't have
the knowledge to take the right decisions, and is a matter of
informing them.

I particulary would like to know of any activity against software
patents going on on Greece (next Concil presindency) and Portugal,
Luxembourg and Ireland (from where I have no data).

Finally, if you don't want to write to politicians, you can still help
in many ways (translation not the least). Contact Eurolinux and offer
some of your time and skills.


Xavi Drudis Ferran
xdrudis at

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