Unitary Patent

De April MediaWiki
Révision datée du 31 août 2012 à 17:51 par Jtadeusz (discussion | contributions) (How to contact a MEP)

The proposal for a Unitary Patent and the threat it represents

The Unitary Patent is a proposal for a European regulation, which was first filed in April, 2011. Its aim is to unify patent titles and jurisdiction between interested member states, through a enhanced cooperation.

The idea behind the project is not problematic in itself. However, the way the project is currently organized is concerning for April: most of the resources would be given to the European Patent Office (EPO), whose drift in favor of sotfware patents have been long criticized by April.

What's the issue ?

  • Threat of software patents coming to Europe in spite of the prohibition by the European Parliament in 2005
  • Threat of patent trolls appearing in Europe (companies which file or buy patents with the only aim of getting royalty payments from other companies
  • Threat of big legal actions on software patents, like the Apple/ Samsung case

The issues in a few words

The unitary patent is a proposed European regulation which aims to unify patent's titles and its jurisdiction among interested Member States. Behind this seemingly harmless announcement hides a particularly dangerous system and the come back of software patents.

The threats of software patents

Software patents are forbidden by the EPC which lays down the principles of patentability in Europe and which has created the European patent office (EPO). However, this office ignores the text of the Convention and has been delivering software patents for many years (see for instance http://webshop.ffii.org). Yet these patents are harmful to innovation and to Free Software as shown by the trials in the USA and by many surveys: patents do not suit software tools which are already well protected by copyright law.

The unitary patent - creating an uncontrollable system

In its current form, the unitary patent hands to the EPO the granting of the patents. The control of these patents validity and of their compliance with the laws on what is patentable will be carried out by a "specialized court". This "specialized court" will be constituted only of patent specialists, without any possible recourse to an independent court. Thus the patent microcosm will be both judge and judged, without any democratic overview to prevent potential abuses.

How to act?

The unitary patent project will be discussed again this autumn within the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament. April suggests improvements towards a greater respect of the law and of the democratic rules. But for these amendments to be heard, it is crucial that MEPs be made aware of the stakes of this project and of the impact it could have on Free Software and on our freedom in this digital era. Contact your MEPs to make them aware of the dangers of the project of unitary patent and to ask them to amend it in order to comply with democratic rules and the control of the excesses that constitute software patents.

Why should I contact MEPs ?

The MEPs information campaign

How to contact a MEP

STEP 1: in the list of members of the JURI Committee, I select a MEP. The list: https://memopol.lqdn.fr/europe/parliament/committee/JURI/

STEP 2: I send him/her an email, using the examples for inspiration

STEP 3: The next day, I call his office to check whether they received my email and to ask what they plan on doing. I can also use the sample dialogue below.


Example of an email sent by a citizen

Email by a company

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

Our company is worried about the current plans to set up a unitary patent with
a flanking unified patent court.

The European Patent Office (EPO)'s practices to grant software patents, under
the deceiving term of “computer-implemented inventions”, pose a threat to our
professional activities.

We are concerned that the regulation on the unitary patent, as agreed in
December 2011 by the negotiators of the Council, the Commission, and the
Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, leaves any and every
issue on the limits of patentability to the EPO's case law, without any
democratic control or review by an independent court.

The regulation on the unitary patent is an opportunity for the EU legislators
to harmonise substantive patent law in the EU institutional and jurisdictional
framework, and to put an end to the EPO's self-motivated practices extending
the realm of patentability to software. Failing to do so, this unitary patent
will do more harm than good to the EU ICT firms.

For these reasons, we urge MEPs to adopt amendments which clearly state that
the EPO's decisions are subject to a review from the Court of Justice of the
European Union, and which reaffirm the rejection of software patentability,
as expressed by the vote of the European Parliament on September 24th, 2003
and July 6th, 2005.


How to contact a MEP by phone

Short version

Supporter: Hello, my name is «  surname, name », I am « occupation/job » and I would like to talk to you about the Unitary patent project that you will discuss on the 17th and 18th September.

Mep's staff: Hello, I'm sorry but Ms/Mr « name of the Mep » is currently busy , it would be a better idea to send him/her an e-mail.

Supporter: Please wait, Mrs/Mr « name of the Mep » is my representative and I would really like to know his position on this project which is a big source of concern for me.

Mep's staff: Ms/Mr (name of MEP) thinks that the Unitary patent project is crucial to ensure competitiveness and innovation in the EU.

Supporter: Yes, but the adoption of this patent regulation brings the risk of the comeback of software patents. This is the fear of many firms and citizens. April, a French association which protects and promotes Free Software has pinpointed these risks by a questionnaire summarizing the project's main issues.

Mep's staff: I'm not aware of the existence of such a questionnaire.

Supporter: This questionnaire is available on April's website. It would be a good thing if Ms/Mr « name » could take the time to read it. It will allow him/her to see that many issues are not adressed by the proposed regulation - issues that are crucial for innovation and knowledge society.

Mep's staff: Ms/Mr (name of MEP) will take time to consult this website if you send us the link via e-mail.

Supporter: It will be sent quickly. (1) Could you confirm that the e-mail adress "initalnam@europarl.europa.eu" is valid ?

Supporter: I would like to add that I don't call into question the project of unitary patent which is probably a step forward for the EU. My comments aim to improve the project in order for it to meet its goals. But the risk of software lock-down by patents would paralyse innovation.

Mep's staff: I have taken into account your comments. They will be shared with the MEP.

Supporter: Thank you for your time. I will call later back on to know the MEP's opinion of the several points I just raised.

1. https://www.brevet-unitaire.eu/content/ten-written-questions-commission-and-council

Long version