German Parliament says: Stop Granting Software Patents

by Stephan Kinsella on April 24, 2013

Good news, but of course, it misses the fundamental problem which is the patent itself. The problem is not low quality patents or software patents or “abuse” of patents. Even if you get rid of these problems, the fundamental problem remains: the state is granting anti-competitive monopoly privileges that entrenched market players can use to stop competition and enhance their oligopolies.

German Parliament says: Stop Granting Software Patents

on: 2013-04-22

The German Parliament, the Bundestag, has voted on a joint motion against software patents. The resolution urges the German government to take steps to limit the granting of patents on computer programs.

In the resolution, the Parliament says that patents on software restrict developers from exercising their copyright privileges, including the right to distribute their programs as Free Software. They promote the creation of monopolies in the software market, and hurt innovation and job creation. [Correction 2013-04-24: Parliament did not yet adopt the motion, but rather decided to pass it to the parliament committees for further consideration.]

“Software patents are harmful in every way, and are useless at promoting innovation”, says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. “We urge the German government to act on this resolution as soon as possible, and relieve software developers from the needless patent-related costs and risks under which they are currently suffering.”

Software patents are illegal under the European Patent Convention. Nevertheless, the European Patent Office has granted tens of thousands of patents covering software. As a result, software developers constantly risk being accused of patent infringement. This causes legal uncertainty which is costly for large companies, and potentially deadly for small ones.

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