German Parliament Sends Message: Stop Granting Software PatentsPublished on 22 April 2013 @ 9:26 am
Intellectual Property Watch
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
The German Parliament has held a first reading of a joint motion against the growing trend of patent offices to grant patents on software programs. The resolution on “Secure Competition and Innovation in the software development,” obliges the German government to take steps to ensure that software is protected by copyright only and no additional patent protection is granted.
The joint motion is here [pdf].
The government also has to prevent damage to open-source projects from the race for patents, the resolution states. It follows a similar resolution from 2005 in which the Parliament also demanded the government to take measures that patent offices stayed in line with relevant provisions of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the EU Directive 91/250 and German copyright law provisions all of which established that software as such could not be patented.
Yet despite these, over the years the situation has worsened, the German Parliament wrote, with the European Patent Office having granted up to tens of thousands of software patents and German courts favouring the practice in recent decisions.
The German government is now asked, among other things, to push for an evaluation of the patent office’s practice, and further clarify the non-patentability of software in any upcoming review of directives. Jimmy Schulz, one of the initiators of the motion, warned that trivial patents or patents harm small and medium-sized software developers. The Foundation for a Free Infrastructure welcomed the decision and called it a strong message and a call to action to EU Commissioner Michel Barnier.