March 26, 2001

France against software patents

Author: JT Smith

On Friday, March 23rd 2001, State
Secretary of
Industry Christian Pierret who is directly in charge of
the French
Patent Policy stated in an interview to 01 Informatique,
the leading
IT magazine in France: 'I am against software patents in
Europe. It
would kill innovation and promote juridical terrorism
multinational software publishers would multiply legal
against start-ups'.EuroLinux welcomes this brave position. "Christian
Pierret is the
living proof that there still exist politicians in Europe
who defend
innovation and the general interest even under the
pressure of
powerful multinational software publishers, politicians
who can oppose
the underwater lobbying of their national patent offices
seeking to
defend their own privileges" says Stéfane Fermigier, Pdt
of AFUL for

EuroLinux wishes for other governments in Europe to be
able to take
similar positions. In Germany, all political parties have
positions against software patents. In France, many
member of
parliaments (Conservative, Greens, Socialists) have taken
against software patents. In the Netherlands, the
parliament ordered
its government to first fix the obviousness and
technicality criteria
before allowing software patents. In Denmark, PROSA, an
association of
13.000 computer professionals opposed software patents.
The EuroLinux
petition counts 200 commercial companies in its
supporters, as well as
more than 70.000 individual signatures.

Still, key software patent lobbyists such as the UK
Patent Office,
which organised in London in 1998 an EC conference to
promote software
patents, or John Mogg, head of the General Directorate
for Internal
Market at the European Commission, are pushing for the
legalisation of
so-called "patents on software with technical effect".
The problem
with this approach is that "the technical character of
software should be generally acknowledged" which means
that "all
computer programs are technical" as famous German patent
M. Betten explained in front of EC representatives as
early as in
1997, during a conference of the UNION, an association of
more than
700 professionals in industrial property from 20 European
It is obviously contradictory to ban software patents and
to legalise
patents on software with technical effect. Recent
decisions of the
European Patent Office show that the legalisation of
"patents on
software with technical effect" would not only legalise
patent on file
formats (ex. GIF, MP3) or network protocols (ex. WAP) but
also lead to
patents on business methods such as "printing cooking
recipes on
demand" (EP756731) or "managing a company through a
single log file"
(EP 209907 )

EU governments should understand that the General
Directorate for
Internal Market is trying to fool them with the concept
of "software
with technical effect". They should clearly say "NO!" to
all software
patents, with or without technical effect, in order to
innovation in Europe.

High Resolution pictures available at


EuroLinux petition for a Software Patent Free Europe -

A few patents granted by the European Patent Office to
"software with
technical effect"

     EP 209907 - Computer management system
     EP 762304 - Trade warrant system
     EP 784279 - Stateless shopping cart for the web
     EP 756731 - Interactive information selection apparatus

Excerpt of 01 Informatique (2001-03-23) interview with

Public Administrations get on-line faster thanks to free

"I already supported personally open-source software,
notably at the
university of Metz. I am glad to see French publishers
of free
software like MandrakeSoft be successful in the United
States. I
support Linux and free software, because they allow
faster and more
robust development to put the Public Administration
on-line. While
commercial software raise the issue of computer security,
since one
does not know what is inside. This is why I am against
patents in Europe. It would kill innovation and promote
terrorism because multinational software publishers would
legal disputes against start-ups"

About EuroLinux -

The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information
Infrastructure is an
open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit
united to promote and protect a vigourous European
Software Culture
based on Open Standards, Open Competition, Linux and Open
Software. Companies members or supporters of EuroLinux
develop or sell
software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for
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 70.000
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 web site to promote and protect
innovation and
competition in the European IT industry.

Press Contacts

France & Europe: Stéfane Fermigier,
+33-6 63 04 12 77
Germany & Europe: Harmut Pilch, +49-89 127
89 608
Denmark and Northern Europe: Anne Ãstergaard,
Belgium: Nicolas Pettiaux,

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