[ffii] FFII calls to remove IP chapter from EU-Korea free trade agreement

Ante ante at ffii.org
Fri Jan 8 11:26:51 CET 2010


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FFII calls to remove IP chapter from EU-Korea free trade agreement
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Brussels, 10 January 2010 -- The Foundation for a Free Information 
Infrastructure (FFII) calls upon the EU Parliament and member states to remove 
the intellectual property rights chapter from the EU - Korea Free Trade 
Agreement. According to the FFII analysis, the free trade agreement is a 
threat to software companies, companies that use software, and free software 
projects; this undermines innovation, competitiveness and legal certainty.

In October 2009, after more than two years of secret negotiations, the EU and 
the Republic of Korea initialed their free trade agreement. The agreement 
awaits ratification by the EU Parliament and member states.

The free trade agreement contains strong measures against patent 
infringements. It provides injunctions, high damages, seizures, destruction of 
production materials and removal of online software repositories. A suspicion 
may be enough for seizures and injunctions. An allegation may be enough to 
freeze assets.

FFII analyst Ante Wessels comments: "These strong measures may be justified 
against hard core counterfeiters. They are not justified against software 
developers. Software patents are so broad in scope, doubtful in validity, and 
so numerous that unintentional infringement is unavoidable in the normal 
course of business. Therefore, competitors and patent trolls can always find a 
stick to hit software companies, companies that use software and free software 
projects. The whole sector is at risk."

The free trade agreement also contains border measures against patent 
infringements. Ante Wessels: "With the numerous software patents out there, 
all software products and all products containing software may infringe 
patents. An allegation is enough to have them seized at the border. Then they 
stay seized until a civil court case made clear whether a patent was infringed 
or not. This gives competitors and patent trolls enormous power - how many 
small and medium enterprises, and free software projects, have the money to 
defend against this? It is the contrary of stimulating free trade."

The free trade agreement is based on existing EU legislation. "Exporting EU-
style enforcement legislation to foreign trading partners is an (un)official 
goal of EU policy", professor Annette Kur, Max Planck Institute Munich, 
remarked in a presentation in December. She added: "If and where legislation 
is (partly) flawed, export is no recommendable option." 

The severe consequences of flawed enforcement legislation were on display in 
the recent EU seizures of life saving medicine meant for developing countries. 
After these seizures became known, the Dutch Minister for Developmental Aid, 
Bert Koenders, said that he wants to change the EU rules on the enforcement of 
intellectual property rights, and that he would even like to violate these 
rules.

Ante Wessels comments: "The seizures of life saving medicine and the treatment 
of software developers as hard core counterfeiters are two consequences of 
flawed EU legislation. Europe should be well aware that if we export this flawed 
legislation, the agreement will be binding. We will not be able to repair our 
own legislation anymore."


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Links
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* EU - Korea Free Trade Agreement:
http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=443

* FFII analysis:
http://action.ffii.org/acta/korea

* Presentation professor Annette Kur, Max Planck Institute Munich:
http://www.se2009.eu/polopoly_fs/1.28342!menu/standard/file/Kur%2C%20Max%20Planck.pdf

* EU seizures of life saving medicine meant for developing countries:
http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2009/06/05/drug-seizures-in-frankfurt-spark-fears-of-eu-wide-pattern/

* Dutch Minister for Developmental Aid, Bert Koenders:
http://www.idafoundation.org/we-inform/news/single-news/news/response-mr-koenders-at-recent-seizures.html

* Trading away access to medicine:
http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/trading-away-access-medicines

* Permanent link to this press release:
http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/FFII%20calls%20to%20remove%20IP%20chapter%20from%20EU-Korea%20free%20trade%20agreement

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Contact
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Ante Wessels
+ 31 6 100 99 063
ante at ffii.org
(Dutch/English)

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
+32-484-566109
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)


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About the FFII
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The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries,
dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit,
based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1000
members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act
as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data
processing.




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