November 7, 2001

EuroLinux: Juridical coup at the European Patent Office

Author: JT Smith

Without waiting for the expected vote by
the European Union of a directive on the patentatibility of software,
the European Patent Office just published a new examination directive
which extends the realm of the European patent practice to software,
business methods and mathematics [1,2].

This decision constitutes a violation of the European democracy and a
provocation against European governments which had publicly stated
last November 2000 that they wanted tighter political control over the
European Patent Office and decided to preserve the exception for
computer programmes. [3] This shameful and unacceptable decision also
constitutes a violation of Article 22 of of the European Patent
Convention which stipulates that only the Enlarged Board of Appeal may
take decisions on significant patent policy issues. However, the
European Patent Office has extended the realm of the European patent
practice through hidden decisions of technical boards in order not to
ask their opinion to European governments. The European Patent Office
has tried to circumvent the democratic control of European Governments
through adventurous administrative processes. The European Patent
Office ignores its ruling authorities. [4] The European Patent Office
scorns the 80% of software companies which are against software
patents. [5, 6]

EuroLinux demands that European governments act firmly.

All projects of directive on the patentability of software, based on
the opinion of European governments, and written by the General
Directorate for Internal Market, require the European Patent Office to
act in a controlable and sensible way. However, control and common
sense do not seem to be appropriate terms for the current behaviour of
the European Patent Office. Therefore, EuroLinux demands governments

clearly state their oppositioons to the patentability of software
and intangible innovations,
demonstrate to the public opinion their ability to control the
European Patent Office by replacing urgently the current board,
responsible of repeated violations of the European Patent
Convention and of the Diplomatic Conference.

EuroLinux urges all companies, all software users and all citizens who
whish to protect software innovation in Europe and free competition in
the information society to join the 90.000 individual supporters and
300 corporate supporters of our petition for a software patent free
Europe [7].


[1] EPO Press Release for the new examination rules for software --

[2] New EPO examination rules for software --

[3] EPO Press Release after the November 2001 conference 2001 --

[4] Stealing with a Righteous Effect, a tale explaining how the EPO
could patent the unpatentable --

[5] The Results of the European Commission Consultation Exercise --

[6] Acceptable protection of software intellectual property: a survey
of software developers and lawyers --

[7] EuroLinux Petition --

About EuroLinux --

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 90.000 European
citizens, 2000 corporate managers and 300 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 web site to promote and protect innovation and
competition in the European IT industry.

Press Contacts

France & Europe: Jean-Paul Smets,, +33-6 62 05 76 14
Germany & Europe: Harmut Pilch,, +49-89 127 89 608
Denmark and Northern Europe: Anne Ãstergaard,
Belgium: Nicolas Pettiaux,

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