[A2k] FSF-Europe on the Unitary Patent

Seth Johnson seth.p.johnson at gmail.com
Sun Sep 9 08:36:35 PDT 2012

EU: the unitary patent
> http://fsfe.org/campaigns/swpat/current/unitary-patent.html

What is the unitary patent?

Currently, a person or company who wants a monopoly on an idea across
the European Union must apply for a patent in all 27 member states

A single market where people and goods can move freely across borders
is one of the central ideas of the European Union. In practice, many
restrictions still exist. The need to apply for a patent in each
member state, rather than just once, is often seen as such a
restriction. Patent holders resent the need to have their applications
translated into each member state's national language, and comply with
the different rules in each country.

For years, the European Commission and others have been trying to
build a patent system that covers the entire European Union, known as
the "unitary patent".

This process has proved surprisingly difficult. EU member states have
argued about all sorts of things. For a while, a row about which
languages patent applications could be filed in under the new, unitary
system held things up.

Another stumbling block was removed in June 2012, when the European
Council finally agreed on where the new system's offices should be
Why is the unitary patent a problem?

A single European patent system would presumably make things more
efficient for patent holders, and for people applying to them. But the
devil is in the details.

The current proposal has the following problems:

    No due process: Under the current proposal, the EPO not only
awards the patent, but also gets to make the final decision on whether
it remains valid when someone complains. The EPO court also lacks a
broader perspective of the social costs of patents.
We demand that the European Court of Justice must be the final court
of appeal for patent complaints.
    Patents on software: Software patents are seriously hurting
Europe's technology companies. The EPO has been granting software
patents for decades, even though they are illegal under the European
Patent Convention. The unitary patent would make this problem worse.
We demand that the current proposal should explicitely exclude
computer programs from patentability. A computer program is not a
patentable invention just because it runs on generic data processing
    Giving up on innovation policy: Patents are a tool to promote
innovation. Europe needs a more active innovation policy. Under the
current proposal, the EU is handing over part of its sovereignty to an
organisation that it has no control over - the EPO.
We demand that the power to set Europe's innovation policy must rest
with the democratically elected European Parliament.

Take action

On September 17 and 18, 2012, the European Parliament's Legal Affairs
committee (JURI) will discuss the current proposal for the "patent
package". Please help us to inform the members of this committee of
the unitary patent's problems, and ask them to support our demands.
Call an MEP

Doing this is easy. Find an MEP from your country in the Legal Affairs
committee, and tell them about our demands. You can use this website
to identify and to call them. Here, you will also find call scripts to
help you along.
Companies: Share your concern about the unitary patent with your MEPs

If you want to contact an MEP to tell him/her about our demands and
how the unitary patent might harm your activity, you can find a model
letter here.
More articles on this topic

    How the European patent system works by Karsten Gerloff. September 5, 2012
    Software patents in Europe: game on by Karsten Gerloff. September 4, 2012

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