[FSFE PR][EN] Karlsruhe Memorandum: FSFE and top unionists against SWPAT

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) press at fsfeurope.org
Tue Jun 28 17:36:11 CEST 2005

Karlsruhe, June 2005

Memorandum on Software Patentability

We, the undersigned, share a vision of Europe as a lively, creative
and competitive part of the world. This vision is based on the
principles of participative democracy and the freedom to innovate; these
rely on Europeans being free to develop software and to distribute
their work, free from the threat and the restrictions of software

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play a central
role in all areas of the economy today, and they are the foundation
of the knowledge economy, in which Europe continues to excel.

Our vision is to see the European ICT industry become the most
vibrant in the world - and the European Parliament shared this
vision, when it made the necessary amendments to the directive on
computer-implemented inventions during its first reading on 24
September 2003.

That directive is better known as software patent directive
because in its original version it not only allowed patents on
computer-aided inventions, it also allowed patents on the
algorithms and logic of the software itself.

In what was the one of the best and most laudable examples of
democratic participation, companies and non-profit organisations
together outlined the likely harmful consequences to democracy,
competition, innovation and employment.

On 18 May 2004 the Council of the European Union frustrated
those democratically-reached positions - they restored the
original proposal with unlimited patentability of software.
They ultimately adopted this position on 7 March 2005 in
defiance of regional and national political processes, as well
as the scientific findings by the German Monopolkommission, [1]
which regularly reports about dangers to competition to the
Federal Government of Germany; the Massachussetts Institute of
Technology (MIT) [2]; the Boston University School of Law [3];
Deutsche Bank Research [4]; Price Waterhouse Coopers [5]; and
the US Federal Trade Commission[6].

Patents on software are among the worst threats to knowledge-based
industries, by restricting software development: they make
computers less secure, less reliable and prevent
competition on a basic level. Lack of competition and
uncalculable legal risks raise the cost of ICT and cost jobs
wherever the economy depends upon them.

The most essential discoveries in the field of ICT were successful
because they were not patented, for instance the invention of the World
Web by Tim Berners-Lee. If software patents are enacted, the
world will never know which discovery could have been the next
World Wide Web.

On 6 July 2005, the directive will once again enter the European
Parliament for its second reading: In the interest of Europe and
its democratic roots we urge you to once more make the necessary
amendments to turn this software patent directive into a directive
that allows patents on computer-aided inventions, but clearly
prevents software patenting.

Georg Greve
 Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)

Christa Dahme, Bundesvorstand Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB)
Annette Mühlberg, Head of eGovernment, ver.di - United Services
	 Union-Headquarters, Berlin
Dr. Wolfgang Kowalsky, European Trade Union Confederation
and more than two hundreds of visitors to GNU/Linuxtag, Karlsruhe

1 http://swpat.ffii.org/archiv/zitate/index.de.html#mopoko0207 
2 http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf 
3 http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swpat.pdf 
6 http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/10/innovationrpt.pdf

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

   The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charitable
   non-governmental organisation 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 FSFE. The FSFE was founded in 2001 as the
   European sister organisation of the Free Software Foundation in the
   United States.

   Further information: http://www.fsfeurope.org

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