Saturday, May 06, 2006

EU Commission unveils masterplan to end the era of cheap software

The FFII warns that a new piece of EU legislation, the "Enforcement Directive", will turn software from a useful commodity into a high-risk, high-cost venture. The sting in the tail of this directive, which innocently claims to punish large-scale commercial pirates, is that patent infringement, which is traditionally a civil offense, is also included.

The FFII points out that the EPO has granted more than 65,000 software patents, and the Commission is now in its third grand attempt to have these recognised as legal instruments across Europe, rather than as the junk paper that most EU countries consider them.

Combine de-junkified software patents with the Enforcement Directive, and a new class of hard-core criminals emerges: anyone who makes or uses infringing software. The catch, according to the FFII, is that the EPO's software patent machine is so feeble that no-one knows what's really patented. One thing we do know: almost all non-trivial software infringes on one or more patents.

So, if you use software, you're a patent infringer. And if you use software for business, you're a "commercial infringer" according to the Commission. That makes you criminally liable, under the new law. Your bank accounts may be frozen, your computers seized without warning, and you may have to face criminal charges. And luckily for the patent holder, it's free! Yes, the state, the tax payer, pays the

And so we have it, the Commission's innovation and job creation plan for Europe: turn every executive into a criminal and create wonderful new opportunities for patent trolls and law enforcement officers.

And people wonder why the Lisbon Agenda is not working?


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