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Stop software patents from muscling in on Europe

by Zak Rogoff Contributions Published on Sep 19, 2012 10:47 AM
If the corrupt European Patent Office succeeds in imitating America's software patent system, it will be a disaster for software development. Join April, the FSF's French ally, in calling for strong legislation against software patents in Europe.

Originally, most countries did not consider software patentable. Over recent decades, however, corporations and the US Patent Office have gradually worked them into the American legal system by any means possible. Software patents have become a real problem for software developers, because they create land mines for anyone trying to write code, leaving small, creative organizations constantly in fear of litigation by the likes of Microsoft and Apple.

Software patents in Europe aren't as bad as here in the US, but there are people trying to change that. Despite a prohibition of software patents by the European Union's parliament, the European Patent Office (EPO) has gone rogue and started handing them out, collecting a hefty fee each time. April, France's primary free software organization and a long-time collaborator with the FSF, recently asked us to spread the word that they are organizing Europeans to demand an end to these illegal patents. They've already helped organize 460 companies to sign a statement against software patents, but to win, they need the grassroots power of people picking up the phone and calling Parliament.

Click here to call your MEP (if you're European).

If you're not European, please share this with anyone you know in Europe; if we can't pass this restriction and get the EPO under control, pro-patent corporations will keep finding new ways to bend the law until they are able to exercise the same stifling control over European software users as they do in the US.

April's president, Lionel Allorge, says, "The EPO keeps on granting software patents, irrespective of the European Convention on Patents that clearly states that computer programs are not patentable. In 2005, at the time of rejection of software patents by the European Parliament, we had called for a democratic control of the EPO. It is time to [finish] the job."

He's right about that. This is our best chance to reign in the corrupt EPO and free Europe from software patents.

You can read the rest of April's statement on their Web site here or check out the homepage for this campaign here.

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