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