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European Patent: FSFE urges European Parliament to wait for legal advice


Free Software Foundation Europe is asking the Members of the European Parliament to wait for legal advice before voting on a unitary patent for Europe. While a proposal is on the Parliament's agenda for the coming week, a legal opinion by the European Court of Justice is expected later this month.

"Software patents hurt innovation and are an unnecessary burden on European software developers," says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "Legislators need to take charge and make sure the patent system contributes to the public good. As the European Patent Organisation has acknowledged, this is a decision that cannot be left to bureaucrats and the judiciary."

FSFE is concerned that the European Parliament will lose legislative competence regarding patents, which will then be controlled by the European Patent Organisation. This clearly creates a conflict of interest, as the EPO will be responsible both for awarding patents and for defining what is patentable. The EPO's expansionist record in this regard gives cause to worry that this will lead to software patents being validated.

The European Court of Justice is expected to publish its opinion about the proposed "enhanced cooperation" of EU member states towards creating a single patent system for Europe. Documents published so far indicate that the Court will find the proposal in conflict with the EU treaties. Resolving these will require fundamental changes to the proposal. The Parliament's vote should take place after these changes so that the Parliament can review the actual proposal.

FSFE hopes that the vote will be delayed until the Parliament can read the Court of Justice's opinion and has had time to analyse this proposal.


Free Software Foundation Europe

Karsten Gerloff, President
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About the Free Software Foundation Europe

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit non- governmental organisation active in many European countries and involved in many global activities. Access to software determines participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study, modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues, securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issue of the FSFE.