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German business associations are warning Europe of an “Intellectual own-goal”
Software-developing companies are more and more confronted with an increasing flow of European patents on general software-ideas and software-related business practices. Even though the European Patent Convention (EPC) interdicts such monopoly requirements, the European patent office (EPO) has already given thousands of software patents under the camouflage name “Computer-Implemented Inventions”. Holders of these patents are predominantly Japanese and American large-scale enterprises.
Dr. Dirk Bisping, chairman of the professional association of self-employed in the information-technology (BVSI), worries about this development: “The primary interest of our members is to use their self-developed software without any limitation. The since decades proven copyright protection gives us an adequate protection of the intellectual property of our companies.
Software patents, however, undermine the law of copyright protection through the erosion of patent rights of the developer. Additionally, incalculable liability risks through inadvertent patent violations pose an existential threat. Europe would do well to save its much-lauded jobmotor the monopolisation of the branch through software patents”.
Not only software-developers but also industrial users have a vital interest in patent-free Software. Especially Open Source Software enjoys great popularity: “In the meantime almost all of the small and medium-sized companies in Europe adopt Open Source Software, upward trend. And that increasingly in sensitive sectors, as the trend towards Open Source in the automation branch shows. Software patents and resultant monopolies are certainly incompatible with the developing concept of Open Source Software”, explains Elmar Geese, first chairman of the LINUX-association.
Against this background the LINUX-association already protested last December against the patronage of Federal Minister of Justice Zypries for the Microsoft competition “The idea”. At an event on the “World Intellectual Property Day”, arranged by the federal association of the German industry (BDI), the minister is going to award a prize to initiatives, which have agitated in a special way for the protection of the intellectual property. “With this campaign the software patents of Microsoft and other big players should finally be made fashionable. The legitimacy of the patents which is highly controversial in Europe is concealed”, says Geese. “Microsoft already threatened several times, to adopt their patent armada against Linux. The minister of justice stooping to such a campaign is an absurdity. The minister should rather plead for the protection of European small and medium-sized companies than for the benefit of American corporate groups.”
In order to strengthen the alliance against software patents, the LINUX-association has decided to assist the company initiative patentfrei.de. patentfrei.de is carried out by over 700 German companies as well as organisations predominantly of the IT-, software-development and automation branch. Johannes Sommer,the Hamburg representative of this Initiative, brings out: „In the meantime even the Federal Chancellor seems to be taken in by the myth of the pretended damage of the European economy without patents on software.
But in reality our software-based knowledge society needs nothing more urgently than an effective protection against the monopolisation of its basics”. An European EPLA-Patent Court, that is interwoven with the European patent organisation, is decidedly refused by the Initiative because of the expected legitimation of the software patents. There is rather demand for an independent, critical adjudication.
Mario Ohoven, president of the association of small and medium-sized companies (BVMW) as well as the president of the European association of medium-sized companies affirmed the position of the company owners: “We approve patents that protect technical innovations and inventions against plagiarism. But when mathematical logics and generally accepted business processes are patented with pseudo-technical pretences, the development of computer software will only be controlled by a few corporate groups.” Via software patents, highly motivated and creative owners of medium-sized companies belonging to the IT-sector of exploration right would be bereft of their own developments, Mario Ohoven warns. “Besides the more expensive and insufficient software, the result is the loss of numberless jobs. Thus the apparent protection of intellectual property becomes an intellectual own-goal, with negative effects on economy and society”, Ohoven says.
Website Berufsverband Selbständige in der Informatik
Website LIVE Linux-Verband e.V.
Website patentfrei.de / Unternehmer gegen Softwarepatentierung
Internetseite des Bundesverbandes mittelständische Wirtschaft
German chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech at the „European Patent Forum" der EPO 18.04.2007
patentfrei.de Joint Declaration against softare patents
patentfrei.de's EPLA position paper
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