8 March 2006 (Brussels, Belgium) The EU's "Consultation on the future of the Community Patent in Europe" has serious flaws, says the FFII, an international information rights group based in Munich. "The first problem with the consultation questionnaire is that it is unavailable in most of the languages of the EU," says FFII president Pieter Hintjens. "And when you try to answer the questionnaire, you realise that most of the vital background information is completely incomprehensible to the average businessperson."
The president of the FFII has sent an open letter (http://consultation.ffii.org/Open_Letter/) to President Barroso and the responsible Commissioners (McCreevy and Wallström), to express his concerns with the procedure and to make four simple requests to improve it.
The FFII has received complaints about the exclusionary nature of the consultation from many SMEs across Europe. "We expect to receive official EU documents in Polish", says Ignacy Miedzinski, CEO of BPSC sa, a Polish IT firm. "Working with French, German, or English texts is expensive and slow and a real barrier to our participation in such consultations."
Laura Creighton, Founder of Sekans, a Swedish Venture Capital Firm, agrees: "For such an important issue, which has been debated for years, we would expect to see much better information provided to the SMEs who should be involved."
In Portugal too, firms find themselves unable to take part in the Commission's process. Joachim Carvalho, the CTO of X64 Lda., a Portuguese IT firm, says: "It really looks like we are not supposed to take part in this process. As far as I can see, only a specialist in EU patent law could really answer the questionnaire."
The FFII warns that both the Commission's alternative proposals, the Community Patent and the EPLA in combination with the London Agreement, could lead to the EU-wide introduction of software patents. Additionally, the current Community Patent proposal would result in transferring judicial authority over patent law from the EU and its member states to the European Patent Office.
Pieter Hintjens concludes: "The Commission is proposing mechanisms for cheaper, easier patents, promoting the misconception that 'more patent equates to more innovation'. Encouraging the patent inflation and accepting the extension of the patent system in fields where patents are counter-productive would be a disaster for the EU."
The FFII has prepared a detailed analysis of the Commission's questionnaire at http://consultation.ffii.org/ and calls upon all affected companies to read the information and to take part in the consultation. A PDF version is available at http://consultation.ffii.org/Downloads/.
The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.