Call for action against software patents

By EDRi · September 9, 2004

On 24 September 2004, the European Council will probably meet to rubber-stamp the ‘political agreement’ achieved on 18 May 2004 on the highly controversial software patents directive (2002/0047 COM-COD)

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is appealing to the ministers of economical affairs and on national parliaments to undo their previous approval. They argue that the compromise suggested by the Council removes all limits on patentability of “computer-implemented” algorithms and business methods, and thereby radically overturns the legislative proposals of the European Parliament as well as the consultative organs of the EU.

According to the FFII the text was designed to mislead ministers about its real effects. “It consists of many sentences of the form or “software is … unpatentable, unless … [condition, which, upon closer scrutiny, turns to be always true]”.” And, states FFII, “It can be said with certainty that only a minority of governments really agrees with what was negotiated, but several governments were misrepresented by their negotiators, who broke intra-ministerial agreements or even violated instructions from their superiors.”

Now the FFII is calling on all supporters to send this call to their representatives, be it the text of the urgent call with the signatories, or just a simple postcard from any nice holiday destination.

The Free Software Foundation Europe is calling on the Dutch EU presidency, in an open letter from 6 September 2004. While the ‘Lisbon’-Process to make Europe the ‘most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010’ is a “reasonable aim which is worthy of support by European citizens”, the proposed legislation “will have adverse effects on the software market.”

And, Georg Greve, FSFE President continues: “30,000 software patents already exist in the EU; this contradicts the spirit of the present patent law in the EU. Three quarters of software patents are held by non-European companies. To give software patents a legal basis may be a decision which would make the EU far less competitive. That is why we would like to ask the European Council to revise its agreement on software patents of May 18th.”

FFII Urgent call to National Governments and Parliaments (04.06.2004)

FFII call for action against software patents (07.09.2004)

FSF Europe open letter to EU presidency (06.09.2004)