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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
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  5. <title>Open letter to Prof. Köhler on software patents - May 31st, 2004</title>
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <center><h1>Software Patents in Europe</h1>
  9. [<a href="/activities/swpat/swpat.html">Introduction</a> | <a
  10. href="/activities/swpat/background.html">Background</a> | <a
  11. href="/activities/swpat/status.html">Status</a> | <a
  12. href="/activities/swpat/documents.html">Further Reading</a> ]
  13. </center>
  14. <br />
  15. <center> Open Letter
  16. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20040510.html">2004-05-10</a>]
  17. [2004-05-31]
  18. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20040706.html">2004-07-06</a>]
  19. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20040802.html">2004-08-02</a>]
  20. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20040906.html">2004-09-06</a>]
  21. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20041004.html">2004-10-04</a>]
  22. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20041101.html">2004-11-01</a>]
  23. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20041206.html">2004-12-06</a>]
  24. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050103.html">2005-01-03</a>]
  25. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050207.html">2005-02-07</a>]
  26. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050307.html">2005-03-07</a>]
  27. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050405.html">2005-04-05</a>]
  28. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050502.html">2005-05-02</a>]
  29. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20050606.html">2005-06-06</a>]
  30. </center>
  31. <h2>Open letter to Prof. Köhler on software patents</h2>
  32. <h3>May 31st, 2004</h3>
  33. <p>Dear Professor Köhler,</p>
  34. <p>
  35. "Germany needs to become a country of ideas,"
  36. you said after your election. You did not ask
  37. to patent these ideas. Rightly so, in our
  38. opinion. This liberal attitude offers the only
  39. way to reach the Lisbon aim of states and
  40. heads of government becoming the "most
  41. competitive knowledge-based economy" by 2010.
  42. </p>
  43. <p>
  44. But in fact Europe - with massive support from
  45. Germany is undertaking the precise opposite
  46. to what should be done. In mid-May, the Council
  47. of Ministers affirmed that it would put through
  48. a bill permitting the the sueing of someone for
  49. royalties from software patents. This is
  50. contrary to the recommendations of thirty European professors of computer
  51. science<a name="ref1" href="#fn1"><sup>1</sup></a>; the German
  52. Monopolkommission (an organisation which writes
  53. regular reports for the Federal Government on the
  54. state of competition)<a name="ref2" href="#fn2"><sup>2</sup></a>;
  55. MIT<a name="ref3" href="#fn3"><sup>3</sup></a>; the Boston
  56. University School of Law<a name="ref4" href="#fn4"><sup>4</sup></a>;
  57. and experts in politics, business and economics<a name="ref5" href="#fn5"><sup>5</sup></a>.
  58. </p>
  59. <p>
  60. Software patents do not patent software programs
  61. but the idea behind (the source code is protected
  62. by copyright), and they hinder software developers
  63. from entering prohibited creative areas when they
  64. are late to patent themselves. This is why they
  65. should be called software-idea patents.
  66. </p>
  67. <p>
  68. I would like to demonstrate the damage which is
  69. caused to the economy, the state and society with
  70. three examples. Had patents on ideas existed in
  71. the eighteenth century, Joseph Haydn might have
  72. patented "a piece of music consisting of four
  73. movements including singing and melody". The
  74. consequence: Haydn might have requested any amount
  75. of licence fees for any of Mozart's forty-one
  76. symphonies.
  77. </p>
  78. <p>
  79. Today matters are similar. Internet telephone is
  80. expected to quadruple its turnover until 2007: a
  81. real growth market indeed. In the United States
  82. there are 880 patents dealing with IP telephony.
  83. A vast prohibited creative area is developing
  84. which will hinder new solutions.
  85. </p>
  86. <p>
  87. This would be as if Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor
  88. of the World Wide Web, had wanted to patent his
  89. unique idea in 1989: had he done so, the World
  90. Wide Web would be open only to a small,
  91. financially-strong, club of chosen people.
  92. </p>
  93. <p>
  94. Of course we agree with you that society must
  95. reward the performance of a software developer
  96. adequately, otherwise the stimulus to make his
  97. abilities available to society is missing. But
  98. we have a strong copyright law to protect
  99. software. Additional software patents are more
  100. likely to be an impediment.
  101. </p>
  102. <p>With the best wishes for your coming presidency</p>
  103. <div align="left">
  104. <a href="/about/people/greve/">Georg Greve</a><br />
  105. Free Software Foundation Europe<br />
  106. <a href="/">fsfe.org</a>
  107. </div>
  108. <hr />
  109. <dl>
  110. <dt>
  111. <a name="fn1" href="#ref1"><sup>1</sup></a>
  112. <a href="http://www.greens-efa.org/pdf/documents/SoftwarePatenting/petitiontoEP_EN.pdf">
  113. http://www.greens-efa.org/pdf/documents/SoftwarePatenting/petitiontoEP_EN.pdf</a>
  114. </dt>
  115. <dt>
  116. <a name="fn2" href="#ref2"><sup>2</sup></a>
  117. <a href="http://swpat.ffii.org/archiv/zitate/index.de.html#mopoko0207">
  118. http://swpat.ffii.org/archiv/zitate/index.de.html#mopoko0207</a>
  119. </dt>
  120. <dt>
  121. <a name="fn3" href="#ref3"><sup>3</sup></a>
  122. <a href="http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf">
  123. http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf</a>
  124. </dt>
  125. <dt>
  126. <a name="fn4" href="#ref4"><sup>4</sup></a>
  127. <a href="http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swpat.pdf">
  128. http://www.researchoninnovation.org/swpat.pdf</a>
  129. </dt>
  130. <dt>
  131. <a name="fn5" href="#ref5"><sup>5</sup></a>
  132. <a href="http://swpat.ffii.org/archiv/zitate/index.de.html">
  133. http://swpat.ffii.org/archiv/zitate/index.de.html</a>
  134. </dt>
  135. </dl>
  136. </body>
  137. </html>
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