July 6, 2005

No software patents in Europe

Author: Free Software Foundation Europe

Press Release - After years of struggle, the European Parliament finally rejected the
software patent directive with 648 of 680 votes: A strong signal
against patents on software logic, a sign of lost faith in the
European Union and a clear request for the European Patent Office
(EPO) to change its policy: the EPO must stop issuing software patents
today."This outcome does not affect patents on high-tech inventions in any
way," explains Stefano Maffulli, Italian representative of FSFE:
"High-tech innovation has always been patentable, and even if the
directive had been passed with all proposed amendmends, it would have
remained patentable. It is important to point this out because the
proponents of software logic patents have tried to confuse people
about high-tech inventions being subject of this directive."

FSFE's president, Georg Greve adds: "The parliament understood this
when it amended the directive in the first reading to keep high-tech
innovation inside and software outside the patent system."

"Unfortunately, the council of the European Union ignored this
decision of the Parliament and removed those amendments. Many MEPs
were appalled at this obvious corruption of democratic process that
day and seem to have lost faith in seeing their amendments treated
with more respect this time."

"Rejection of the directive became the very last option to send a
clear and strong signal against software patents in Europe," Greve
continues. "The Free Software Foundation Europe commends the European
Parliament on this decision: in the interest of harmonisation we would
have preferred a directive along the lines of the first reading, but
we understand that rejection became the last realistic option to avoid
doing irreparable harm to European economy."

Jonas Öberg, vice-president of FSFE: "This reaffirms the 1973 European
Patent Convention (EPC), which excludes software from patentability.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has largely ignored this central
convention and granted approximately 30.000 software patents in the
past years: this must stop today! The EPO should not be allowed to
further ignore European policies!"

Georg Greve explains the proposal of FSFE: "Much trouble was caused by
the inability of the European Union to hold the European Patent Office
responsible for acting against agreed-upon policies: unlike other
parts of a democratic executive, the EPO is not liable for the
decision it takes. We propose to establish an EPO supervision
instrument that holds the EPO management liable for its decisions and
prevents further patent system degradation."

About the Free Software Foundation Europe:

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a charitable
non-governmental organisation dedicated to all aspects of Free
Software in Europe. Access to software determines who may
participate in a digital society. Therefore the Freedoms to use,
copy, modify and redistribute software - as described in the Free
Software definition- allow equal participation in the information
age. 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. The
FSFE was founded in 2001 as the European sister organisation of the
Free Software Foundation in the United States.

Further information: http://www.fsfeurope.org

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