Subject: ANN: European Software Patents: More Trivial than in the US
From: Stefane Fermigier <>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 16:28:31 +0100



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   European Software Patents: More Trivial than in the US
   EuroLinux Publishes European Software Patent Horror Gallery
   EuroLinux Alliance (
   For immediate Release
   Munich, 2000-11-20 - The Association for the Promotion of a Free
   Informational Infrastructure (FFII), member of the EuroLinux Alliance
   of software publishers and non profit associations, has published a
   database of software patents granted by the EPO, together with
   some impressive examples, statistics and articles. This database shows
   that software patents granted by the European Patent Office are even
   more trivial than software patents granted in the United States. This
   "European Software Patent Horror Gallery" will be introduced on
   November 21 11-12:30 in Munich, Germany, with special guest Richard
   Stallman, founder of the League for Programming Freedom.
   Currently, pure software patents granted by the European Patent Office
   are considered as illegal or abusive by national courts in Europe.
   However, this situation may change by the end of the week if the
   exception on computer programs is removed from the European Patent
   Convention. It would then be no longer legal to conduct automated
   medical diagnoses in Europe. The same applies to numerous economic or
   social activities such as conducting of examinations in schools,
   bringing traders together at the stock exchange, generating purchasing
   lists from cooking recipes, setting prices dynamically, learning
   languages by comparing one's pronunciation with that of a teacher. All
   these activities would infringe on European patents, as soon as they
   are implemented through software. Other EPO patents encumber network
   standards such as MIME and CGI and squatter the operating system level
   by occupying thousands of basic methods of memory arithmetics, making
   programming in these fields a hazardous endeavour.
   FFII's patent data specialist, Arnim Rupp, recommends that anybody
   discussing about software patents should first take a look at that
   database: « by browsing through the EPO's patents you will quickly
   find out that this has nothing to do with protecting software, let
   alone protecting innovative solutions. What this is really about is
   occupying complete problems. Fortunately for us, these hilariously
   trivial and gruesomely broad EPO patent claims are so far not
   necessarily enforceable before European courts. The American mega
   corporations, to whom most of these illegally granted patents belong,
   are still waiting for a change in the European Patent Convention. If
   the Diplomatic Conference sets the wrong signal in Munich next week,
   Germany will hopefully abide by the words of the Ministry of Justice
   and refuse to ratify the new European Patent Convention. The situation
   is serious enough to justify this. The European patent system will
   work one way or another. The issue at stake now is how to keep 30000
   mines from detonating and how to give back basic legal security to
   European IT enterprises and citizens. »
   For Daniel Rödding, CEO of a software enterprise in Paderborn, the
   situation is very serious: « by browsing the FFII's patent data base
   you can quickly grasp what software patents mean for most European IT
   companies today. On such a minefield small software companies hardly
   have any chance anymore. For my company I have already drawn the
   consequences: Starting from mid of next year we will conduct large
   parts of our software development in a country which does not yet have
   such a highly developed patent law system and in which a change of the
   legal situation cannot be expected for the near future. In certain
   fields the development of software is becoming too dangerous in
   Germany. Given the long-term legal risks, continuing with this
   activity in Germany would be irresponsible from a small entrepreneur's
   point of view. » Same applies to the rest of Europe.
   So far already 200 software companies and 55000 signatories of the
   Eurolinux Petition have expressed themselves in a similar way.
   Economists worldwide have confirmed that the introduction of patents
   in the software economy tends to harm innovation.
   Meanwhile at the "Diplomatic Conference" patent representatives of 20
   European countries will be negotiating about a "Base Proposal for the
   Revision of the European Patent Convention" drafted by EPO president
   Dr. Ingo Kober. Therein the EPO proposes among others to stipulate
   universal patentability (Art 52) and to confer special legislative
   rights on the administrative council of the EPO (Art 33). The rules or
   procedure have been determined by the EPO in such a way that national
   patent delegations can overrule individual items only by a 2/3
   majority. Otherwise the will of the EPO will become legally binding in
   all European countries whose parliaments do not opt out of the
   European Patent Convention (EPC).
   The "European Software Patent Horror Gallery" will be introduced on
   November 21 11-12:30 by near the EPO in Forum der Technik, Helios
   conference room. FFII members will respond to questions from
   journalists regarding this database and the EuroLinux petition to
   protect software innovation in Europe. Special guest Richard Stallman,
   founder of League for Programming Freedom, will introduce the
   situation related to software patents in the United States.

   European Software Patents: Database and Examples -
   Eurolinux Petition for a software patent Free Europe -
   Dr. Swen Kiesewetter-Köbinger: Über die Patentprüfung von
   Programmen für Datenverarbeitungsanlagen -- Probleme und
   Ungereimtheiten der Softwarepatentierung aus der Sicht eines Prüfers
   am Deutschen Patent- und Markenamt -
   Comparative report about the examination practice for software
   patents at the US, European and Japanese patent offices -
   German Ministry of Justice demands that the computer program
   exception not be removed at the coming conference and threatens to opt
   out of the EPC otherwise -,1588,100120,00.html
   Protecting Informational Innovation against the Abuse of the
   Patent System -
   A simplistic but true introduction to the problem (German only) -
   GNU Project -
   Software Patents - League for Programming Freedom -
   Diplomatic Conference to revise the European Patent Convention -
   The EuroLinux Petition for a Software Patent Free Europe -
   EuroLinux Sponsors -
   Statements for Software Patent Free Europe -
   The EuroLinux Public Consultation -
   Softwarepatente - SPIEGEL ONLINE - 27. Oktober 2000,1588,100120,00.html
   The EuroLinux File on Software Patents -
About EuroLinux -

   The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
   open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
   united to promote and protect a vigorous European Software Culture
   based on Open Standards, Open Competition, Linux and Open Source
   Software. Companies members or supporters of EuroLinux develop or sell
   software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for operating
   systems such as Linux, MacOS or Windows.
   The EuroLinux Alliance launched on 2000-06-15 an electronic petition
   to protect software innovation in Europe. The EuroLinux petition has
   received so far massive support from more than 50.000 European
   citizens, 2000 corporate managers and 200 companies.
   The EuroLinux Alliance has co-organized in 1999, together with the
   French Embassy in Japan, the first Europe-Japan conference on Linux
   and Free Software. The EuroLinux Alliance is at the initiative of the web site to promote and protect innovation and
   competition in the European IT industry.
About FFII -

   FFII is a non-profit association which promotes the development of
   open interfaces, open source software and freely available public
   information. FFII coordinates a workgroup on software patents
   which is sponsored by successful German software publishers. FFII
   is member of the EuroLinux Alliance.
   Press Contacts
   Germany & Europe: Hartmut Pilch <> +49-89 127 89 608

   And also:
   France: Stéfane Fermigier <> +33-6 63 04 12 77
   Denmark and Northern Europe: Anne Østergaard <>
   Belgium: Nicolas Pettiaux <>
   Permanent URL for this PR

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