[FSFE PR][EN] FSFE welcomes German government on its way towards a
clear position in the discussion around software patents
press at fsfeurope.org
press at fsfeurope.org
Sat May 15 13:19:13 CEST 2004
May 14th, 2004
FSFE welcomes German government on its way towards
a clear position in the discussion around software patents
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) "welcomes the commitment
of the Federal Government of Germany to freedom from software patents
as being of extreme importance for innovation in Europe", Georg
Greve, president of FSFE, comments in a press release. "Clearly the
opinion of the Federal Government regarding the information society
is shifting towards a position which is clear and close to the
position of its citizens. The FSFE will support the German government
on this journey to its utmost."
The ongoing learning process is particularly notable to the FSFE,
because for a long time during the preparatory deliberations of the
working group of the Council of Ministers, the Federal Republic
belonged to the hawks.
These hawks wanted, for example, so-called "requirements of program"
to be accepted. If these were to be introduced, a patent would be
infringed by the mere existence of a program, not just by its
"This would threaten all people who develop software -- whether the
software is intended for use in study, leisure or business -- exactly
what the patent industry wants", explains Greve, and points out that,
"it is contradictory to use Free Software in so many public
institutions on the one hand and to threaten them with software
patents on the other hand."
The patent supporters want to monopolize interfaces and file formats.
The consequence of this would be that import and export features and
even simple printing features might be offered by the holder of the
With this shift in direction, the suggestions the FSFE has been
making for years are starting to pay off. A number of administration
officials understand software patents to be a serious thread to the
information society; now the Ministry of Justice seems to subscribe
to this view as well.
Last Wednesday Elmar Hucko, head of a government department in the
Ministry of Justice, announced at an event in Berlin that the Federal
Government would vote against the controversial software patent
directive of the Council of Ministers of the European Union. At the
same time, according to the online magazine "heise.de", Hucko
criticised the current practice in the European Patent Office (EPO)
of granting patents in the field of "computer-implemented
inventions". "Not all of these these patents should have been
granted," he emphasised.
"After this we are confident that even the Ministry of Justice will
accept sooner or later that software can be patentable under no
circumstances -- not even when it is supposed to control machines,"
says the FSFE in a press release.
In Greve's opinion, the Federal Government should, given its change
in stance, now argue against the other members of the EC, "in order
to avoid a wrong decision". It should then convince its colleagues to
exclude software patents for the future.
Then it might be possible to offer a draft directive to the European
Parliament by the end of the year, "benefiting freedom and ensuring
continued innovation and growth" which restrains the patent industry
from bludgeoning software companies.
About the Free Software Foundation Europe
The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSF Europe) is a charitable
non-governmental organization dedicated to all aspects of Free
Software in Europe. Access to software determines who may participate
in a digital society. Therefore the freedoms to use, copy, modify and
redistribute software - as described in the Free Software definition
- allow equal participation in the information age. Creating
awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and
legally, and giving people freedom by supporting development of Free
Software are central issues of the FSF Europe, which was founded in
2001 as the European sister organization of the Free Software
Foundation in the United States.
Georg C. F. Greve <greve at fsfeurope.org>
Further contact information available at
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