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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
  2. <html newsdate="2012-12-08">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>First, do no harm: European Parliament must delay vote on unitary patent</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <h1>First, do no harm: European Parliament must delay vote on unitary patent</h1>
  8. <p newsteaser="yes" id="introduction">
  9. The European Parliament is about to vote on a "unitary patent" for
  10. Europe in its plenary session on December 11. The proposal currently
  11. on the table is widely known to have serious legal and practical
  12. problems. In the light of these problems, Free Software Foundation
  13. Europe urges the Parliament's members to delay the vote until a better
  14. solution can be worked out.
  15. </p>
  16. <p>
  17. Under the current proposal, the Parliament would agree to give up its
  18. power to shape Europe's innovation policy. This is a dangerous
  19. proposition. Knowledge and innovation are crucial to our future, and
  20. we cannot simply delegate their management to a technocratic body such
  21. as the European Patent Organisation. Europe's political institutions
  22. have to have the final say over innovation policy. This is a
  23. responsibility which MEPs cannot shirk.
  24. </p>
  25. <p>
  26. "MEPs must not saddle Europe's innovators with a rotten compromise.
  27. Innovation is a key part of our common future, and it is too important
  28. to be gambled away in a hasty decision," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's
  29. President.
  30. </p>
  31. <p>
  32. The political process that has led up to the current proposal has
  33. suffered from a marked lack of transparency. The European Parliament
  34. still has not published the text of the inter-instutional agreement
  35. which it reached with the Council on November 19.
  36. </p>
  37. <p>
  38. "We are deeply alarmed that such a crucial text may be ramrodded
  39. through Parliament before MEPs and the interested public have had a
  40. chance to properly consider the text," says Gerloff.
  41. </p>
  42. <p>
  43. The most important <em>practical problems</em> with the current package:
  44. </p>
  45. <ul>
  46. <li>Instead of providing uniformity and transparency for market
  47. participants, the current proposal will create <em>divergence and
  48. confusion</em>. It will be hard for anyone to obtain clarity on how a
  49. patent may be used, or where its powers end.</li>
  50. <li><em>Lack of limitations and exceptions</em> puts Europeans'freedom to
  51. innovate at risk. There is no provision for compulsory licenses,
  52. posing a grave danger to public welfare. The lack of a research
  53. exception puts a millstone of risk around the neck of Europe's
  54. scientists.</li>
  55. - <li><em>Small and medium-sized enterprises</em> are the backbone of
  56. Europe's economy. If this wrong-headed compromise is accepted, they
  57. will bear the brunt of the resulting problems. This is not
  58. something that Europe can afford, much less in the midst of an
  59. economic crisis.</li>
  60. </ul>
  61. <p>
  62. The most important <em>legal problems</em> with the current package:
  63. </p>
  64. <ul>
  65. <li>The compromise would lead to a <em>fragmentation of the internal market</em>,
  66. as patents would not be uniformly enforceable across all EU member
  67. states. Additionally, there would be four overlapping levels of
  68. patents existing side by side. This will inevitably create
  69. substantial confusion and business risks for innovators and
  70. companies.</li>
  71. <li>A proliferation of courts that may handle patent litigation will
  72. inevitably lead to a <em>fragmentation of jurisprudence</em>. This
  73. will even further confuse anyone who comes into contact with the
  74. patent system, increase the costs of litigation, and make patent
  75. risks even harder to calculate for businesses.</li>
  76. <li>The envisioned Unified Patent Court is <em>incompatible with European
  77. law</em>. Europe's policy makers have failed to address the problems
  78. highlighted by the European Court of Justice in its Opinion 1/09
  79. (March 2011). Even the Parliament's own Legal Services department
  80. has doubts about the package's legality.</li>
  81. </ul>
  82. <p>
  83. A package which leaves such significant problems unaddressed is not
  84. fit to be adopted by responsible lawmakers. Policy makers are keen to
  85. put this hotly contested issue behind them. But this desire must not
  86. lead them to rush into an ill-considered compromise with numerous
  87. known problems, in the face of widespread opposition from the patent
  88. system's stakeholders.
  89. </p>
  90. <p>
  91. FSFE joins large parts of the innovation community, and in particular the
  92. <a href="http://www.ip.mpg.de/en/pub/publications/opinions/unitary_patent_package.cfm">Max-Planck-Institute</a> in urging the Parliament to reconsider the
  93. unitary patent package. Until a better solution can be achieved, MEPs
  94. should heed the age-old principle: First, do no harm.
  95. </p>
  96. <h3>More information:</h3>
  97. <ul>
  98. <li><a href="http://www.ip.mpg.de/en/pub/publications/opinions/unitary_patent_package.cfm">Max
  99. Planck Institute for "Intellectual Property" and Competition Law: The Unitary Patent Package: Twelve Reasons for Concern</a></li>
  100. <li><a href="http://fsfe.org/campaigns/swpat/current/unitary-patent.en.html">Overview
  101. of issues with the unitary patent package</a></li>
  102. <li><a href="https://www.unitary-patent.eu/">Resources on the
  103. unitary patent package</a></li>
  104. </ul>
  105. </body>
  106. <tags>
  107. <tag>front-page</tag>
  108. <tag content="Software Patents">patents</tag>
  109. <tag>eu</tag>
  110. <tag>Policy</tag>
  111. <tag content="European Parliament">EuropeanParliament</tag>
  112. </tags>
  113. </html>