[FSFE PR][EN] First, do no harm: European Parliament must delay vote on unitary, patent

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Sun Dec 9 22:14:49 CET 2012

= First, do no harm: European Parliament must delay vote on unitary
patent =

[Read online: http://fsfe.org/news/2012/news-20121208-01.en.html ]

The European Parliament is about to vote on a "unitary patent" for
Europe in its plenary session on December 11. The proposal currently on
the table is widely known to have serious legal and practical problems.
In the light of these problems, Free Software Foundation Europe urges
the Parliament's members to delay the vote until a better solution can
be worked out.

Under the current proposal, the Parliament would agree to give up its
power to shape Europe's innovation policy. This is a dangerous
proposition. Knowledge and innovation are crucial to our future, and we
cannot simply delegate their management to a technocratic body such as
the European Patent Organisation. Europe's political institutions have
to have the final say over innovation policy. This is a responsibility
which MEPs cannot shirk.

"MEPs must not saddle Europe's innovators with a rotten compromise.
Innovation is a key part of our common future, and it is too important
to be gambled away in a hasty decision," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's

The political process that has led up to the current proposal has
suffered from a marked lack of transparency. The European Parliament
still has not published the text of the inter-instutional agreement
which it reached with the Council on November 19.

"We are deeply alarmed that such a crucial text may be ramrodded through
Parliament before MEPs and the interested public have had a chance to
properly consider the text," says Gerloff.

The most important/practical problems/with the current package:

- Instead of providing uniformity and transparency for market
  participants, the current proposal will create/divergence and
  confusion/. It will be hard for anyone to obtain clarity on how a
  patent may be used, or where its powers end.
- /Lack of limitations and exceptions/puts Europeans'freedom to innovate
  at risk. There is no provision for compulsory licenses, posing a grave
  danger to public welfare. The lack of a research exception puts a
  millstone of risk around the neck of Europe's scientists.
- -/Small and medium-sized enterprises/are the backbone of Europe's
  economy. If this wrong-headed compromise is accepted, they will bear
  the brunt of the resulting problems. This is not something that Europe
  can afford, much less in the midst of an economic crisis.

The most important/legal problems/with the current package:

- The compromise would lead to a/fragmentation of the internal market/,
  as patents would not be uniformly enforceable across all EU member
  states. Additionally, there would be four overlapping levels of
  patents existing side by side. This will inevitably create substantial
  confusion and business risks for innovators and companies.
- A proliferation of courts that may handle patent litigation will
  inevitably lead to a/fragmentation of jurisprudence/. This will even
  further confuse anyone who comes into contact with the patent system,
  increase the costs of litigation, and make patent risks even harder to
  calculate for businesses.
- The envisioned Unified Patent Court is/incompatible with European
  law/. Europe's policy makers have failed to address the problems
  highlighted by the European Court of Justice in its Opinion 1/09
  (March 2011). Even the Parliament's own Legal Services department has
  doubts about the package's legality.

A package which leaves such significant problems unaddressed is not fit
to be adopted by responsible lawmakers. Policy makers are keen to put
this hotly contested issue behind them. But this desire must not lead
them to rush into an ill-considered compromise with numerous known
problems, in the face of widespread opposition from the patent system's

FSFE joins large parts of the innovation community, and in particular
the Max-Planck-Institute[1] in urging the Parliament to reconsider the
unitary patent package. Until a better solution can be achieved, MEPs
should heed the age-old principle: First, do no harm.


=== More information: ===
- Max Planck Institute for "Intellectual Property" and Competition Law:
  The Unitary Patent Package: Twelve Reasons for Concern:
- Overview of issues with the unitary patent package:   
- Resources on the unitary patent package:

== Contact ==
  Karsten Gerloff
  President, Free Software Foundation Europe
  E-Mail: gerloff at fsfeurope.org <https://mail.fsfeurope.org/mailman/listinfo/press-release>
  Phone: +49 176 9690 4298
== About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==

  The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
  the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  modify and copy. Founded in 2001, 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.  http://fsfe.org/

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