[FSFE PR][EN] European Parliament adopts deeply flawed unitary patent, gives up power over innovation policy

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Tue Dec 11 14:51:37 CET 2012

= European Parliament adopts deeply flawed unitary patent, gives up
power over innovation policy =

[Read online: http://fsfe.org/news/2012/news-20121211-01.html ]

Today, the European Parliament has adopted a proposal to create a patent
with unitary effect for Europe. This decision will leave Europe with a
patent system that is both deeply flawed and prone to overreach. It also
ends democratic control of Europe's innovation policy.
"We are disappointed that so many MEPs were prepared to throw Europe's
researchers and innovators under the bus just to achieve a deal, any
deal" says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation
Europe. "It is natural that after nearly four decades of discussions on
a single patent system for Europe, most of those involved simply want
the debate to end. But we would have expected more of our elected

== Intense criticism from all sides ==

In adopting the proposal, MEPs chose to disregard intense criticism of
the proposal from all sides of the debate. Patent lawyers[1],
independent legal experts[2], SMEs[3]and civil society groups such as
FSFE all voiced their concerns to MEPs ahead of the vote. FSFE
recognises the important work done by some MEPs, in particular the
Greens/EFA, in informing their colleagues about the serious flaws in the

1. http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2012/12/unitary-patent-deja-vu-council-debate.html
2. http://www.ip.mpg.de/en/pub/publications/opinions/unitary_patent_package.cfm
3. http://www.april.org/en/against-software-patents-460-companies-demand-improvement-unitary-patent-europe

With this decision, the European Parliament has essentially given up its
power to shape Europe's innovation policy. That power will instead fall
to the European Patent Office, which has a track record of awarding
monopoly powers on the widest possible range of subject matter.
"We are alarmed to see both legislative and executive power in the hands
of a single agency," says Karsten Gerloff. "The separation of powers is
a fundamental principle of democracy. We regret that in today's vote,
many MEPs were prepared to give this up in exchange for an ill-conceived

== Software patents, fragmentation and confusion ==

The text adopted today will lead to fragmentation of jurisdiction and of
jurisprudence across the European Union. Creating divergence and
confusion, the proposal will make the patent system much harder to
navigate for small and medium enterprises. The European Patent Office
will have much greater leeway to continue its practice of granting
patents on software. This will harm competition and innovation, and
create unnecessary risks for businesses and software developers. It is
also likely that the adopted text will lead to more intense patent
litigation in Europe, including by patent trolls.

FSFE is also concerned about the lack of a research exception and of a
provision for compulsory licenses. According to the Max Planck Institute
for "Intellectual Property", the envisioned patent court is incompatible
with European Union law[4]. These fundamental flaws mean that
considerable uncertainty remains about the way in which the patent
system will operate in future.

4. http://www.ip.mpg.de/en/pub/publications/opinions/unitary_patent_package.cfm

== Next steps ==

According to the European Parliament's website[5], "the international
agreement creating a unified patent court will enter into force on 1
January 2014 or after thirteen contracting states ratify it, provided
that UK, France and Germany are among them. The other two acts would
apply from 1 January 2014, or from the date when the international
agreement enters into force, whichever is the latest. Spain and Italy
are currently outside the new regime, but could decide to join in at any

5. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/pressroom/content/20121210IPR04506/html/Parliament-approves-EU-unitary-patent-rules

=== More information: ===

- Overview of issues with the unitary patent package[6]
- Resources on the unitary patent package[7]

6. http://fsfe.org/campaigns/swpat/current/unitary-patent.en.html
7. https://www.unitary-patent.eu/

== 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.

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