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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
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  5. <title>Open Letter to the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (FhG) because of software patents - July 6th, 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. [<a href="/activities/swpat/letter-20040531.html">2004-05-31</a>]
  18. [2004-07-06]
  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 the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (FhG)</h2>
  32. <h3>July 6th, 2004</h3>
  33. <p>Dear Professor Bullinger,</p>
  34. <p>
  35. "Research should be able to earn its money also on the market!" - say
  36. politicians so we, the Free Software Foundation Europe, understand when
  37. researchers use creative ways to get a better income. But even
  38. researchers should take care not to bite the hand that feeds them. This
  39. danger is real, especially with the actual software patent discussion:
  40. </p>
  41. <p>
  42. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is well known for its patent of the MP3
  43. audio-compression standard. Another compression procedure, named Ogg
  44. Vorbis, is considered to be of higher technological value by experts. If
  45. software patents should indeed be introduced in Europe, the Ogg Vorbis
  46. developers could be confronted with license claims at will by the
  47. Fraunhofer IIS<a name="ref1" href="#fn1"><sup>1</sup></a>, although they took
  48. care not to infringe the MP3 patent. The FhG might be able to get rid of an
  49. unpleasant competitor or would at least better its income substantially. We
  50. will avoid a discussion of the ethical questions related to such a behaviour.
  51. </p>
  52. <p>
  53. However, it certainly is not very useful from the economical point of view if
  54. a good idea blocks an even better one: this is also shown by Dr. Daniel
  55. Probst of the chair of Economy and Economical Theory at the University
  56. of Mannheim. Dr. Probst stated in a hearing of the German parliament
  57. regarding software patents in June 2001<a name="ref2"
  58. href="#fn2"><sup>2</sup></a>:
  59. </p>
  60. <p>
  61. "The part of SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) would sink and a
  62. concentrational process would begin. Based on network effects, a few
  63. large enterprises would gain a dominant place on the market. As far as
  64. allowed by competition regulations, they would agree on cross-licensing
  65. their patent portfolios and would hinder market entry of new companies
  66. with blocking patents. The research intensity in the branch would
  67. stagnate or fall." There would also be a significant decrease of Free
  68. Software solutions.
  69. </p>
  70. <p>
  71. Personally I regret every single point of the above. There are many more
  72. deficiencies, some of them have been shown to the new German president,
  73. Professor Köhler, in an open letter in June<a name="ref3"
  74. href="#fn3"><sup>3</sup></a>. A particular important point for you as head of
  75. the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft should certainly be the quote "The part of SME
  76. would sink...", especially regarding the fact that, according to the German
  77. government<a name="ref4" href="#fn4"><sup>4</sup></a>, the FhG is taking 60
  78. percent of its research orders from SMEs.
  79. </p>
  80. <p>
  81. Another point to take into consideration would be that big companies
  82. might move the research to the eastern parts of the European Union,
  83. because they can find in Poland and other newly entered EU countries
  84. perfectly competent software developers at a fraction of actual costs.
  85. </p>
  86. <p>
  87. For Europe's greatest research society in the field of "information and
  88. communication technology", this could mean not only the disappearance of
  89. their project partners but, even worse, the dying of the companies which
  90. FhG wanted to live of. "Sawdust is falling since quite a certain time,
  91. the splintering of the branch is imminent."
  92. </p>
  93. <p>Kind regards</p>
  94. <div align="left">
  95. <a href="/about/people/greve/">Georg Greve</a><br />
  96. Free Software Foundation Europe<br />
  97. <a href="/">fsfe.org</a>
  98. </div>
  99. <hr />
  100. <dl>
  101. <dt>
  102. <a name="fn1" href="#ref1"><sup>1</sup></a>
  103. <a href="http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/">http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/</a>
  104. </dt>
  105. <dt>
  106. <a name="fn2" href="#ref2"><sup>2</sup></a>
  107. <a href="http://swpat.ffii.org/events/2001/bundestag/probst/index.de.html">http://swpat.ffii.org/events/2001/bundestag/probst/index.de.html</a>
  108. </dt>
  109. <dt>
  110. <a name="fn3" href="#ref3"><sup>3</sup></a>
  111. <a href="https://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/press-release-de/2004q2/000030.html">https://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/press-release-de/2004q2/000030.html</a>
  112. </dt>
  113. <dt>
  114. <a name="fn4" href="#ref4"><sup>4</sup></a>
  115. <a href="http://www.bmbf.de/pub/inno-masterplan.pdf">http://www.bmbf.de/pub/inno-masterplan.pdf</a>
  116. </dt>
  117. </dl>
  118. </body>
  119. </html>
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