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First, do no harm: European Parliament must delay vote on unitary patent

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The European Parliament is about to vote on a "unitary patent" for Europe in its plenary session on December 11. The proposal currently on the table is widely known to have serious legal and practical problems. In the light of these problems, Free Software Foundation Europe urges the Parliament's members to delay the vote until a better solution can be worked out.

Under the current proposal, the Parliament would agree to give up its power to shape Europe's innovation policy. This is a dangerous proposition. Knowledge and innovation are crucial to our future, and we cannot simply delegate their management to a technocratic body such as the European Patent Organisation. Europe's political institutions have to have the final say over innovation policy. This is a responsibility which MEPs cannot shirk.

"MEPs must not saddle Europe's innovators with a rotten compromise. Innovation is a key part of our common future, and it is too important to be gambled away in a hasty decision," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's President.

The political process that has led up to the current proposal has suffered from a marked lack of transparency. The European Parliament still has not published the text of the inter-instutional agreement which it reached with the Council on November 19.

"We are deeply alarmed that such a crucial text may be ramrodded through Parliament before MEPs and the interested public have had a chance to properly consider the text," says Gerloff.

The most important practical problems with the current package:

The most important legal problems with the current package:

A package which leaves such significant problems unaddressed is not fit to be adopted by responsible lawmakers. Policy makers are keen to put this hotly contested issue behind them. But this desire must not lead them to rush into an ill-considered compromise with numerous known problems, in the face of widespread opposition from the patent system's stakeholders.

FSFE joins large parts of the innovation community, and in particular the Max-Planck-Institute in urging the Parliament to reconsider the unitary patent package. Until a better solution can be achieved, MEPs should heed the age-old principle: First, do no harm.

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