[FSFE PR][EN] Software patents: A bad day for Europe

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Wed May 19 17:17:21 CEST 2004

                                                        May 19th, 2004

                    Software patents: A bad day for Europe and Germany

 "Europe is about to finally give up on the goal of its heads of
  states and governments to become the 'most competitive
  knowledge-based region' until 2010 and has repeatedly failed
  democratically. It is unfortunate that the optimism and trust placed
  in the German government was somewhat premature. Yesterday was not a
  good day for Europe and Germany!" is the sad summary of Georg Greve,
  president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) about the
  decision of the council of the European Union about "computer
  implemented inventions."

  Among other things, the directive was created with the wrong goals
  in mind: "The European Patent Office (EPO) has granted about 30.000
  software patents so far. The declared goal of this directive was to
  create patenting possibilities for 'computer implemented inventions'
  and legaliziation of patents granted already."

  As Jeremy Philpott of the UK Patent Office put it: "If the directive
  had gone through with all the proposed amendments (Comment: made by
  the European Parliament), there would have been plenty of patents
  that would no longer have been valid. I cannot stress this enough:
  [...] The whole point was that what is patentable today, will be
  patentable tomorrow, [...]"

  "So at no point in time was finding useful limits to patentability
  for the sake of innovation the prime incentive, the directive should
  rather make the already granted patents legally enforceable. If the
  European Parliament agrees to this directive, about 30.000 patent
  mines will be armed -- without consideration of the effect that
  their explosions will have for economy and society."

  Greve's conclusion: "The German minister of Justice Zypries spoke
  about a 'Round Table' with interested parties to further mutual
  understanding. Instead of 'furthering understanding' after the
  decision has been made, I suggest to use this occasion to establish
  a permanent round table to discuss sustainable political
  decisions. The goal of this table should be to at least catch up in
  international competition again."

  With regards to the directive we strongly suggest to the European
  parliament to not accept the current proposal despite better
  knowledge. In particular a definition of what is to be considered
  technical is indispensable, the whole directive rests on this
  term. "Otherwise it would be like building a house on wheels and
  without brakes under the assumption that its later inhabitants will
  not move it even though doing so would promise them immense

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>
        phone: +49-40-23809080
        fax:   +49-40-23809081

   Further contact information available at 

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