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<title>German Parliament tells government to strictly limit patents on software</title>
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<h1>German Parliament tells government to strictly limit patents on software</h1>
<p>On Friday the 7th of June the German Parliament <a
href="http://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2013/45033928_kw23_angenommen_abgelehnt/index.html">decided
upon</a> a <a href="http://dip.bundestag.de/btd/17/130/1713086.pdf">joint
motion to limit software patents</a> (see <a
href="https://l.fsfe.org/bikt-swpat-en.pdf">English translation by
BIKT</a>). The Parliament urges the German Government to take steps to
limit the granting of patents on computer programs. Software should
exclusively be covered by copyright, and the rights of the copyright
holders should not be devalued by third parties' software patents.  The
only exception where patents should be allowed are computer programs which
replace a mechanical or electromagnetic component. In addition the
Parliament made clear that governmental actions related to patents must
never interfere with the legality of distributing Free Software.</p>
<blockquote><p>"This  is an important step to fix the software patent
insanity. The FSFE highly  welcomes this decision. It's great to see that
all of Germany's major parties understand that software patents are a
huge problem and that they are acting accordingly," says  Matthias
Kirschner, FSFE's coordinator for Germany.</p></blockquote>
<p>Tens of thousands of software patents in Germany and Europe present
enormous cost and liability risks, especially for SMEs. Several German SME
associations welcomed the Parliament's decision. However they warn against
giving all the responsibility to Brussels, as the EU has been consistently
incapable of providing software developers with legal certainty. "Germany
now has to implement this decision in law, to send a strong signal towards
Brussels," says Johannes Sommer of BIKT, one of the associations.</p>
<p>At an expert meeting in the Parliament on 13th May, in which FSFE also
participated, industry associations BIKT and BITMi proposed changes to
German copyright  and patent law. These proposals would also affect
software patents which have already been granted. The first proposal is to
add a  "protective shield" clause to German copyright law , introducing a
<a href="https://l.fsfe.org/bikt-schutz">blanket ban</a> on the enforcement
of patent claims with regard to software. The second proposal to be
implemented in German patent law makes sure that the effect of patent
claims shall not extend to works protected independently by copyright. Both
proposals would prevent that patents on software can be enforced against
software developers. The FSFE supports both proposals.</p>
<blockquote><p>"Since the EU has decided to give away its power to make
rules on the unitary patent, this step towards limiting patents on
software is all the more important.", says Kirschner.</p></blockquote>
<p>Background: The joint motion was introduced in German Parliament in
April.  After a first hearing, the legal committee held an external expert
meeting on May 13th for which FSFE published a <a
href="http://www.bundestag.de/bundestag/ausschuesse17/a06/anhoerungen/archiv/47_Patentierung_von_Computerprogrammen/04_Stellungnahmen/Stellungnahme_Kirschner.pdf">written
statement</a> and <a
href="https://wiki.fsfe.org/mk/BundestagAnhoerung2013SoftwarepatenteNotizen">Matthias
Kirschner's notes of his oral presentation</a>. During the hearing, a
substantial majority of the external experts supported the join motion. 
After recommendations from the Parliament's Legal Committee, backed up by
the Committee for Economy and Technology, the Committee of Education,
Research, and Engineering Results Assessment, as well as from the Committee
for Culture and Media, the German Parliament in plenary session has
approved unanimously the joint motion on the 7th June.</p>
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<tag key="swpat">Software Patents</tag>
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