Our petition aims to unify the voices of concerned Europeans, associations and companies, and calls on our politicians in Europe to stop patents on software with legislative clarifications.
The patent system is misused to restrain competition for the economical benefit of a few but fails to promote innovation. A software market environment is better off with no patents on software at all. Healthy competition forces market players to innovate.
European court decisions still accept in many cases the validity of the software patents granted by national patent offices and the European Patent Office (EPO) that is beyond democratic control. They not only continue to grant them, but also to lobby in favor of them. Despite the current deep crisis of the patent system, they are unable to reform and put at risk too many European businesses with their soft granting policy.
On 2005 the Commission appeared to be more supportive to the interests of major international conglomerates than of small and medium sized enterprises from Europe - who are a major driving force behind European innovation. The European Parliament rejected at the end the software patent directive, but has no rights for legislative initiatives.
Copyright for software, but no patents
Software authors are already protected by copyright law, allowing others to innovate in the same space generating healthy competition, but this protection is undermined by patents on software. It is far too easy to violate patents on software whilst being completely unaware of any transgression. Software companies do not use and do not need the patent system to innovate. They must be protected from owners of dubious granted patents.
Litigation instead of innovation
Software patents miss their legitimate purpose. Patents on software favour litigation in detriment of innovation, defeating their democratic justification. They force software producers to spend on bureaucracy, lawsuits, and circumventing dubious granted claims on software what would otherwise be spent on Research and Development. Owners of patents on software, who sometimes doesn't produce software themselves, obtain a means to exert unfair control over the market.
In the USA there are billions of dollars in litigation over software patents each year, and not only between software companies, but also other companies just because they have a web site (this starts to happen in Europe also). This mistake needs to be avoided in Europe.
We urge our legislators
- to pass national legal clarifications to substantive patent law to rule out any software patent;
- to invalidate all granted claims on patents that can be infringed by software run on programmable apparatus;
- to also strive to propagate these rules to the European level, including the European Patent Convention.