October 25, 2000

EC to research dangers of software patents

Author: JT Smith

EuroLinux provides a public forum and a rich knowledge base:

Bruxelles, Copenhagen, London, Madrid, Munich, Paris. October 25rd
2000. On Thursday 19th October 2000, the European Commission
announced
the opening of an official consultation on the economic and social
impact of software patents in Europe. In order to help European
Authorities to conduct an open consultation, the EuroLinux Alliance
of
software publishers and non profit organisations debuts a public
forum
and a rich knowledge base. The General Directorate for Internal Market has recognised recently
the potential negative impact of software patents on innovation,
their
danger for small and medium enterprises and the requirement for
Europe
to conduct in-depth researches on the economic impact of software
patents before changing European Patent Law. Obviously, there is no
economic consensus in Europe on this matter.

It is also widely admitted that any extension of the patent system
to
software is equivalent to an extension of the patent system to
intellectual or business methods implemented with software. Patents
on
"internet auctions", "electronic voting", "organising virtual call
centres", "distributing recipes in supermarkets" or "managing a
company with a single accounting book" are typical examples of
software patents legaly granted in the United States. Once software
patents become legal in Europe, most of these examples will become
enforceable in Europe too.

Previous European consultations on software patents were mainly
targeted at patent attorneys and patent offices. Obviously, patent
attorneys and patent offices expressed a position in favour of
software patents. This new consultation should now be considered by
European companies, organisations and citizens as a real opportunity
to voice their own concerns.

EuroLinux kindly asks European consumers, European IT professionals
and European companies to urgently send public statements, reports
and
position papers on software patents to
[2]consultation@eurolinux.org.
Emails sent to this address will be automatically published on the
EuroLinux web site (http://petition.eurolinux.org/consultation) and
forwarded to the General Directorate for Internal Market at the
European Commission.

EuroLinux does not recommend sending private emails to the General
Directorate for Internal Market. Only open and public information
about the dangers of software patents will be considered seriously.
The EuroLinux public forum and its rich knowledge base are currently
the best guarantee for a transparent and democratic debate on
software
patents in Europe.

References

The EuroLinux Public Consultation -
http://petition.eurolinux.org/consultation

The EuroLinux Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe -
http://petition.eurolinux.org

The EuroLinux File on Software Patents -
http://petition.eurolinux.org/reference

About EuroLinux - www.eurolinux.org

The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture
based on Open Standards, Open Competition, Linux and Open Source
Software. Companies members or supporters of EuroLinux develop or
sell
software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for operating
systems such as Linux, MacOS or Windows.

The EuroLinux Alliance launched on 2000-06-15 an electronic petition
to protect software innovation in Europe. The EuroLinux petition has
received so far massive support from more than 50.000 European
citizens, 2000 corporate managers and 200 companies.

The EuroLinux Alliance has co-organised in 1999, together with the
French Embassy in Japan, the first Europe-Japan conference on Linux
and Free Software. The EuroLinux Alliance is at the initiative of
the
www.freepatents.org web site to promote and protect innovation and
competition in the European IT industry.

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