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FSFE speaks out on software patents

FSFE logoThe Free Software Foundation Europe FSFE) is asking whether lawsuits like Apple vs Samsung will soon take place in Europe if proposals currently on the table for reform of the patent system are adopted.

The European Parliament is about to set the future course for Europe’s patent system. On 17th and 18th September, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament will discuss a proposal for an EU-wide patent.

This unitary patent proposal has faced massive criticism from different sides. In its current form, it will mean:

  • giving up political control over Europe’s innovation policy;
  • endangering due process for those involved in patent litigation;
  • cementing the European Patent Office’s dangerous practice of awarding patents on software.

In addition, the European Court of Justice has warned that the current unitary patent proposal is incompatible with EU legislation.

In order to preserve and enhance Europe’s capacity for innovation, the FSFE is demanding:

  • Political control over the patent system: Europe’s patent system must be placed under the European Parliament’s supervision. The patent system is an important tool of innovation policy and the European Parliament must not delegate its responsibilities to an organisation entirely outside the EU’s control.
  • Due process: The patent system has to guarantee due process for all, with proper checks and balances. Rather than being left at the mercy of an unsupervised special patent court, those involved in patent litigation must have recourse to national courts and ultimately to the European Court of Justice.
  • No patents on software: Parliament needs to effectively ensure that computer programs are excluded from patentability. MEPs must make it clear that a computer program cannot be patented just because it runs on generic data processing hardware.