[Openstandaarden] Press: European Parliament votes against mutual recognition of patents by the EU Member States

Benjamin Henrion bh at udev.org
Thu Mar 16 12:47:02 CET 2006

PRESS RELEASE -- [ Europe / economy / ICT ]

                European Parliament votes against mutual
             recognition of patents by the EU Member States

Members of the european Parliament successfully opposed a move by a MEP to
jeopardise the annual Lisbon report for asking the commission for mutual
recognition of patent law that would result in a flood of patent suits all
over Europe, lower quality standards, and worsen the software patents problem.

Strasbourg (March 15, 2006) -- The new round of the European debate on patent
policy has started with a first victory for anti-software patent campaigners.
A majority of the European Parliament today voted against calling on the
European Commission for a legislative proposal to stipulate the mutual
recognition of national patents by the 25 member states of the EU. Such mutual
recognition would make the patents that the national patent office of any EU
country grants enforceable against companies in all other member states.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and Florian
Mueller, the founder of the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, lobbied MEPs to
vote against the related passage of a proposed resolution, stressing that the
mutual recognition of national patents "would result in a flood of patent
suits all over Europe, lower quality standards, and ever more software
patents", among other things because patent applicants would "shop around" to
find patent offices that are most willing to grant patents which would then be
valid in the entire EU.

The call for mutual  recognition of patents that had been sponsored by Klaus
Heiner Lehne MEP. Lehne, a German conservative, holds a job as a lobbyist with
the law firm Taylor Wessing, which handles many cases of patent litigation
especially in his home town of Dusseldorf and represents large corporations in
many areas of commercial law.

Mueller called the outcome of today's vote in the European Parliament
"excellent news from Strasbourg". His recently started blog also explains
the voting mechanism, a so-called split vote, that prevented the text from
going through as proposed by Lehne. Mueller published large parts of a
memorandum that Lehne had written to other EU politicians late last year and
in which the MEP claimed that the mutual recognition of national patents would
make Europe more competitive. By calling on the European Commission to make a
proposal for the mutual recognition of patents, the European Parliament would
not have taken a final legislative decision today, but such a call "would have
been a disappointing start for [anti-software patent campaigners] with respect
to the EU’s new patent policy initiative, and it would have had negative
effects for the future", Mueller added.

Benjamin Henrion of the FFII welcomes the European Parliament's decision
because this way the parliament "keeps all options open for the future of the
European patent system" in light of the European Commission's ongoing
consultation on patent policy, which is preparatory to new legislative
proposals that EU observers expect the Commission to put forward after the
summer. Henrion said it would have been "a pity if Lehne's proposal had
slipped through as one of 67 items of a resolution on the EU's Lisbon Agenda
for innovation and economic policy".

Rufus Pollock, director of the FFII UK, calls on companies and individuals who
are concerned about software patents to participate in the EU's consultation
on patent policy: "Today was a great result for us, but there will be many
more and bigger challenges ahead as the Commission prepares new proposals
concerning patent policy. It's very important that many companies and
individuals write to the Commission before the deadline on March 31. Answering
the Commission's questionnaire is tricky, but the FFII has set up a Web
site that provides further explanation, or people can also use Florian's
position paper and submit it in their name."


Today's resolution of the European Parliament was based on motion
B6-0162/2006, which had been jointly introduced by the chairmen of the three
largest groups in the parliament (EPP-ED, PES, ALDE).

At the request of EPP-ED and ALDE, paragraph 43 was subject to a split vote.
The proposed text without the words "small" and "mutual recognition" was
carried, while a majority voted against proposals to insert those words.

Background Information

[1] FFII Lehne page: http://wiki.ffii.org/KlausHeinerLehneEn
[2] Mueller blog: http://www.no-lobbyists-as-such.com/florian-mueller-blog
[3] Commission consultation: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/indprop/patent/consultation_en.htm
[4] FFII consultation website: http://consultation.ffii.org
[5] Mueller consultation paer: http://www.no-lobbyists-as-such.com/florian-mueller-blog/position-paper/
[6] About this press release: http://wiki.ffii.org/MutualRecognition060315En

Contact Information

Benjamin Henrion, FFII Brussels, +32-2-4148403, bhenrion at ffii.org
Florian Mueller, +49-8151-21088, fmueller.nosoftwarepatents at gmail.com

About FFII -- http://www.ffii.org

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European
countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public
benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850
members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act
as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights
(intellectual property) in data processing.

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