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  4. <title>FSFE - EU: the unitary patent</title>
  5. <meta content="Information about the EU's unitary patent." name="description" />
  6. <meta content="computer implemented inventions software patent law copyright ideas computer program compatibility and interoperability companies software developers users non-free Free Software legal uncertainty costs pay smartphones unitary patent" />
  7. </head>
  8. <body>
  9. <h1>EU: the unitary patent</h1>
  10. <h2 id="about">What is the unitary patent?</h2>
  11. <p>
  12. Currently, a person or company who wants a monopoly on an idea across
  13. the European Union must apply for a patent in all 27 member states
  14. individually.
  15. </p>
  16. <p>
  17. A single market where people and goods can move freely across borders
  18. is one of the central ideas of the European Union. In practice, many
  19. restrictions still exist. The need to apply for a patent in each
  20. member state, rather than just once, is often seen as such a
  21. restriction. Patent holders resent the need to have their applications
  22. translated into each member state's national language, and comply with
  23. the different rules in each country.
  24. </p>
  25. <p>
  26. For years, the European Commission and others have been trying to
  27. build a patent system that covers the entire European Union, known as
  28. the "unitary patent".
  29. </p>
  30. <p>
  31. This process has proved surprisingly difficult. EU member states have
  32. argued about all sorts of things. For a while, a row about which
  33. languages patent applications could be filed in under the new, unitary
  34. system held things up.
  35. </p>
  36. <p>
  37. Another stumbling block was removed in June 2012, when the European
  38. Council finally agreed on where the new system's offices should be
  39. placed.
  40. </p>
  41. <h2 id="problem">Why is the unitary patent a problem?</h2>
  42. <p>
  43. A single European patent system would presumably make things more
  44. efficient for patent holders, and for people applying to them. But the
  45. devil is in the details.
  46. </p>
  47. <p>
  48. The current proposal has the following problems:
  49. <dl>
  50. <dd>
  51. No due process: Under the current proposal, the EPO not only awards
  52. the patent, but also gets to make the final decision on whether
  53. it remains valid when someone complains. The EPO court also lacks
  54. a broader perspective of the social costs of patents.
  55. </dd>
  56. <dt>
  57. We demand that the European Court of Justice must be the final
  58. court of appeal for patent complaints.
  59. </dt>
  60. <dd>
  61. Patents on software: Software patents are seriously hurting
  62. Europe's technology companies. The EPO has been granting software
  63. patents for decades, even though they are illegal under the
  64. European Patent Convention. The unitary patent would make this
  65. problem worse.
  66. </dd>
  67. <dt>
  68. We demand that the current
  69. proposal should explicitely
  70. exclude computer programs from
  71. patentability. A computer program
  72. is not a patentable invention just
  73. because it runs on generic data
  74. processing hardware.
  75. </dt>
  76. <dd>
  77. Giving up on innovation policy: Patents are a tool to promote
  78. innovation. Europe needs a more active innovation policy. Under the
  79. current proposal, the EU is handing over part of its sovereignty to
  80. an organisation that it has no control over - the EPO.
  81. </dd>
  82. <dt>
  83. We demand that the power to set Europe's innovation policy must
  84. rest with the democratically elected European Parliament.
  85. </dt>
  86. </dl>
  87. </p>
  88. <h2 id="action">Take action</h2>
  89. <p>
  90. While our concerns remain unchanged, the unitary patent is no
  91. longer on the agenda of the Legal Affairs committee for its
  92. meeting on September 17 and 18. We expect the issue to be
  93. discussed later in the autumn of 2012.
  94. </p>
  95. <p>
  96. We will continue to provide updates on this issue.
  97. </p>
  98. <h3 id="call-mep">Call an MEP</h3>
  99. <p>
  100. Doing this is easy. Find an MEP from your country in the Legal Affairs
  101. committee, and tell them about our demands. You can use <a href="
  103. website</a> to identify and to call them. Here, you will also find
  104. call scripts to help you along.
  105. </p>
  106. <h3 id="letter-company">Companies: Share your concern about the unitary patent with your MEPs</h3>
  107. <p>
  108. Please consider supporting a <a
  109. href="">resolution</a>
  110. against software patents and the current proposal for the
  111. unitary patent.
  112. </p>
  113. <p>
  114. If you want to contact an MEP to tell him/her about our demands and how the
  115. unitary patent might harm your activity, you can find a <a href="">model letter
  116. here</a>.
  117. </p>
  118. <h2 id="reading">More articles on this topic</h2>
  119. <p>
  120. <ul>
  121. <li><a href="">
  122. How the European patent system works</a> by Karsten Gerloff. September 5, 2012</li>
  123. <li><a href=""
  124. >Software patents in Europe: game on</a> by Karsten Gerloff. September 4, 2012</li>
  125. </ul>
  126. </p>
  127. </body>
  128. <timestamp>$Date: 2012-09-05 18:34:51 +0200 (mer. 05 sept. 2012) $ $Author: leobaillard $</timestamp>
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