[FSFE PR][EN] German Parliament tells government to strictly limit patents on software

Free Software Foundation Europe press at fsfeurope.org
Wed Jun 12 13:25:01 CEST 2013

= German Parliament tells government to strictly limit patents on software =

[Permant Link https://fsfe.org/news/2013/news-20130612-01.en.html ]

On Friday the 7th of June the German Parliament decided upon [1] a joint
motion to limit software patents [2] (see English translation by BIKT
[3]). The Parliament urges the German Government to take steps to limit
the granting of patents on computer programs. Software should
exclusively be covered by copyright, and the rights of the copyright
holders should not be devalued by third parties' software patents.  The
only exception where patents should be allowed are computer programs
which replace a mechanical or electromagnetic component. In addition the
Parliament made clear that governmental actions related to patents must
never interfere with the legality of distributing Free Software.

    "This  is an important step to fix the software patent insanity. The
    FSFE highly  welcomes this decision. It's great to see that all of
    Germany's major parties understand that software patents are a huge
    problem and that they are acting accordingly," says  Matthias
    Kirschner, FSFE's coordinator for Germany.

Tens of thousands of software patents in Germany and Europe present
enormous cost and liability risks, especially for SMEs. Several German
SME associations welcomed the Parliament's decision. However they warn
against giving all the responsibility to Brussels, as the EU has been
consistently incapable of providing software developers with legal
certainty. "Germany now has to implement this decision in law, to send a
strong signal towards Brussels," says Johannes Sommer of BIKT, one of
the associations.

At an expert meeting in the Parliament on 13th May, in which FSFE also
participated, industry associations BIKT and BITMi proposed changes to
German copyright  and patent law. These proposals would also affect
software patents which have already been granted. The first proposal is
to add a "protective shield" clause to German copyright law ,
introducing a blanket ban [4] on the enforcement of patent claims with
regard to software. The second proposal to be implemented in German
patent law makes sure that the effect of patent claims shall not extend
to works protected independently by copyright. Both proposals would
prevent that patents on software can be enforced against software
developers. The FSFE supports both proposals.

    "Since the EU has decided to give away its power to make rules on
    the unitary patent, this step towards limiting patents on software
    is all the more important.", says Kirschner.

Background: The joint motion was introduced in German Parliament in
April. After a first hearing, the legal committee held an external
expert meeting on May 13th for which FSFE published a written statement
[5] and Matthias Kirschner's notes of his oral presentation [6]. During
the hearing, a substantial majority of the external experts supported
the join motion.  After recommendations from the Parliament's Legal
Committee, backed up by the Committee for Economy and Technology, the
Committee of Education, Research, and Engineering Results Assessment, as
well as from the Committee for Culture and Media, the German Parliament
in plenary session has approved unanimously the joint motion on the 7th

  1. http://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2013/45033928_kw23_angenommen_abgelehnt/index.html
  2. http://dip.bundestag.de/btd/17/130/1713086.pdf
  3. http://l.fsfe.org/bikt-swpat-en.pdf
  4. http://l.fsfe.org/bikt-schutz
  5. http://www.bundestag.de/bundestag/ausschuesse17/a06/anhoerungen/archiv/47_Patentierung_von_Computerprogrammen/04_Stellungnahmen/Stellungnahme_Kirschner.pdf
  6. http://wiki.fsfe.org/mk/BundestagAnhoerung2013SoftwarepatenteNotizen

== 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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