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<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<title>Karlsruhe Memorandum on Software Patentability</title>
<h1>Software Patents in Europe</h1>
[ <a href="/activities/swpat/swpat.html">Introduction</a>
| <a href="/activities/swpat/background.html">Background</a>
| <a href="/activities/swpat/status.html">Status</a>
| <a href="/activities/swpat/documents.html">Further Reading</a>
<h2>Karlsruhe, June 2005</h2>
<h2>Memorandum on Software Patentability</h2>
<p>We, the undersigned, share a vision of Europe as a lively, creative
and competitive part of the world. This vision is based on the
principles of participative democracy and the freedom to innovate; these
rely on Europeans being free to develop software and to distribute
their work, free from the threat and the restrictions of software
<p>Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play a central
role in all areas of the economy today, and they are the foundation
of the knowledge economy, in which Europe continues to excel.</p>
<p>Our vision is to see the European ICT industry become the most
vibrant in the world - and the European Parliament shared this
vision, when it made the necessary amendments to the directive on
computer-implemented inventions during its first reading on 24
September 2003.</p>
<p>That directive is better known as software patent directive
because in its original version it not only allowed patents on
computer-aided inventions, it also allowed patents on the
algorithms and logic of the software itself.</p>
<p>In what was the one of the best and most laudable examples of
democratic participation, companies and non-profit organisations
together outlined the likely harmful consequences to democracy,
competition, innovation and employment.</p>
<p>On 18 May 2004 the Council of the European Union frustrated
those democratically-reached positions - they restored the
original proposal with unlimited patentability of software.
They ultimately adopted this position on 7 March 2005 in
defiance of regional and national political processes, as well
as the <a href="">scientific findings by the German Monopolkommission</a>,
which regularly reports about dangers to competition to the
Federal Government of Germany; the <a href="">Massachussetts Institute of
Technology (MIT)</a>; the <a href="">Boston University School of Law</a>;
<a href="">Deutsche Bank Research</a>;
<a href="">Price Waterhouse Coopers</a>; and the
<a href="">US Federal Trade Commission</a>.</p>
<p>Patents on software are among the worst threats to knowledge-based
industries, by restricting software development: they make
computers less secure, less reliable and prevent
competition on a basic level. Lack of competition and
uncalculable legal risks raise the cost of ICT and cost jobs
wherever the economy depends upon them.</p>
<p>The most essential discoveries in the field of ICT were successful
because they were not patented, for instance the invention of the World Wide
Web by Tim Berners-Lee. If software patents are enacted, the
world will never know which discovery could have been the next
World Wide Web.</p>
<p>On 6 July 2005, the directive will once again enter the European
Parliament for its second reading: In the interest of Europe and
its democratic roots we urge you to once more make the necessary
amendments to turn this software patent directive into a directive
that allows patents on computer-aided inventions, but clearly
prevents software patenting.</p>
<p>Georg Greve<br />
President<br />
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)</p>
If you wish to see your name or the name of your organisation added
to this list, please contact
<a href=""></a>.
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