OS3G - Open Source, 3rd Generation

A (humble) attempt to publish news from the trenches where Free/Libre/Open-Source Software is brought to the mainstream -- and Francois Letellier's blog, too

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Engineering Answer to EC Consultation on Patents

Engineering Ingegneria Informatica sent a well put answer to the EC consultation on the European patent system, which I quote and publish with their authorization here.

"In our opinion, software and business method patents stifle innovation and on the bottom line discourage, rather than reward, investment in innovation in the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector. Therefore, we believe that the executive governments of the member states of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as "the Member States") should take the appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the applicable law by the EPO as well as NPOs. However, the introduction of a more detailed set of substantive rules could, alternatively or additionally, serve the same purpose, provided that such a set of substantive rules would represent a departure from the EPO's case law."

"A minimum requirement, which is unfortunately not met by the patent systems of Europe at present, is compliance with the existing substantive rules on what can and cannot be patented. The grant of software and business method patents has been discussed in the answer to question 1.1.
There are indications of non-compliance of the EPO with the existing substantive rules in other fields such as biotechnology.
Considering that every patent constitutes a 20-year monopoly and that monopolies are generally contradictory to the notion of a free market economy, patents must only be issued with the greatest caution.
A strict liability regime such as patent law not only protects, but also endangers those who make independent creations. In the event of a willful infringement, a patent may do justice and, absent other viable business models, may be a necessity to reward investment in innovation. However, every use of a patent in a scenario of unintended infringement discourages from investing in innovation and, by depriving an innovator of the fruits of his efforts, runs counter to the basic idea of intellectual property. The business risk of
unintended infringement also comes with a cost for an enterprise, and it adversely affects a company's ability to innovate."


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