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Unitary patent: model letter for companies


We are writing to you today in your capacity as a member of the European Parliament's Legal Affairs committee. On September 17 and 18 this committee will discuss the European Commission's proposal for a unitary patent system. We have some concerns which we would like to share with you regarding this matter.

[INSERT your company's name, what it does, and how the patent system concerns you.]

The large number of patent-related lawsuits in the smartphone industry in recent years has made it abundantly clear that patents on software hurt innovation rather than helping it. The surprisingly high damages awarded to Apple on a doubtful basis in its lawsuit against Samsung illustrate how patents on software create dangerous uncertainty for companies and damage competition.

In its current form, the proposal would mean that Parliament hands control over an important part of Europe's innovation policy to the European Patent Organisation, without proper supervision or control.

We ask you to ensure that the patent system remains under the political control of the European Parliament. Please support the relevant amendments proposed for the patent package, with the numbers 58, 59, 62, 77, 80 and 90.

By handing the sole jurisdiction over patent disputes to a central court without proper checks and balances, the proposal as it currently stands also poses a grave risk to due process for everyone involved in patent litigation.

Please ensure that all parties in patent litigation cases have recourse to their national courts, and can ultimately appeal to the European Court of Justice. The amendments designed to achieve this are numbered 59, 80 and 81.

Finally, the patent package in its current form risks cementing the EPO's practice of awarding patents on computer programs. As illustrated recently by the Apple/Samsung case, software patents create unnecessary uncertainty for investors and risks to competition, while doing nothing to promote innovation. In this area, the EPO's practice has diverged markedly from the letter and spirit of the European Patent Convention's Article 52 (c).

Parliament needs to effectively ensure that computer programs are excluded from patentability. Please make it clear that a computer program cannot be patented just because it runs on generic data processing hardware.

The European Parliament has already rejected patents on software twice, on September 24th, 2003 and on July 6th, 2005. For the sake of Europe's IT economy, we ask you to stand by these decisions, and support the amendments numbered 63 and 64.

Thank you for considering our concerns. We remain available for any questions you may have.