[ffii] FFII asks MEPs to either fully amend or reject software patents directive

Jonas Maebe jmaebe at ffii.org
Tue Mar 29 23:55:12 CEST 2005

PRESS RELEASE FFII -- [ Europe / economy / ICT ]

FFII asks MEPs to either fully amend or reject software patents 

Brussels, 29 March 2005 -- "Complete restoration of the spirit of the
EP's first reading, or rejection" is the message delivered by the FFII
to the Members of the European Parliament today. Given the Commission's
refusal to grab the chance do its homework properly and the Council
playing deaf, the EP's second reading carries the undue burden of having
to start from scratch. The FFII hopes that the EP will once more make
the right choices.

A day before the European Patent Office (EPO) will hold its first
"Patent Information Day" ever in the European Parliament, the FFII has
distributed a letter to all 732 MEPs offering its views on how to
proceed with the troubled software patents directive. Since the EP has
only 4 months to conclude its second reading, a potential challenge of
the way the Council acted at the 7 March meeting would have to be
performed in parallel with the legislative work.

The legislative procedeure will continue with the official announcement
of the Council's text in the European Parliament around 7 April. The
EP's Legal Affairs Committee will probably finalise its approach in
June, where it can decide to advise to amend or reject the directive.
The plenary vote will then take place in July.

If the European Parliament once again strongly speaks out against the
EPO practice of granting US-style software patents, it will come out as
the strongest party in the Conciliation near the end of the procedure,
as both the Commission and Council are internally strongly divided over
the issue. In this case, the directive may in the end actually achieve
what the Commission states as the original goals: clarification and
stopping US style software and business method patents.

On the topic of rejection, Hartmut Pilch, President of the FFII, notes:

  'We can't really expect the Parliament to spend its time diving into
  gory details of patent law.  In a democracy, the executive would draft
  the laws in conformance with the demands of the elected legislators. In
  the EU, the Parliament has to do the homework of an unwilling
  executive, and we can't really blame them if at a certain point they
  say No, so as to simplify their life and protect themselves against
  legislative spamming by incompetent administration officials. A
  Parliament that can say No might even be the best we can get under the
  current EU framework.'

Although a good directive is preferable to having no directive, the
awareness raised about this issue would not die together with this
directive project and other ways to solve the software patent problems
do exist. On the other hand, a directive which codifies the EPO's
current practices would severely obstruct such alternative approaches.
Having the European Court of Justice as the ultimate authority is no
good if the law says it can only judge software patents to be uniformly
enforceable all over Europe.

Jonas Maebe, FFII Board Member, adds:

  'The EPO lobbying politicians to promote software patents is a bit like
  some Department of Housing promoting the handing out of more building
  permits. We hope our letter and its annexes can give MEPs more balanced
  information than the EPO's simplistic oneliners like "Idea + Patent =
  Innovation". Economic policy making should not be based on unfounded
  claims by the EPO and emotional pleas by its largest customers, but on
  sound economic evidence and the desires of the involved sectors as a

Background information

- Permanent link to this press release:

- Letter distributed to MEPs

- Annexes to the letter

- Page with information about the second reading

- Questions to the Council about what happened on 7 March 2005

- EPO Patent Information Day in the European Parliament


Hartmut Pilch, Munich Office
phm at ffii.org
tel. +49 (0)89 18979927

Erik Josefsson, Brussels Office
erjos at ffii.org
tel. +32 (0)485 83 21 26

Jonas Maebe, Board Member
jmaebe at ffii.org
tel. +32 (0)485 36 96 45

About the FFII -- http://www.ffii.org

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a
non-profit association registered in several European countries, which
is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports
the development of public information goods based on copyright, free
competition, open standards. More than 500 members, 1,200 companies
and 80,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in
public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual
property) in data processing.

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