Patent industry writes ICT task force report "on behalf of SMEs"

Brussels, 29 November 2006 -- A key report produced by a European Commission task force was written almost entirely by the patent industry and large firms, including SAP's patent lawyers, US firms, and the European Patent Office, says the FFII.

The report titled "IPR for competitiveness and innovation" claims that studies prove that SMEs need patent protection, that SMEs benefit from patents, and that increased software patents in the US have not hampered innovation in the US ICT sector. These claims are forcibly contested by SME organisations, who point out that software patents punish the IT SME sector, while giving large firms a key grip on the market.

The report is particularly insulting to small IT firms, claiming that they "generally reveal an anxious attitude towards the patent system as a whole. Any reform or initiative [...] is viewed as a potential backdoor for introducing software patents, a concept opposed by a large majority among this Group." The report also accuses small IT firms of having "a relatively inadequate understanding and general knowledge of the patent system".

The FFII, an observer at the task force, saw strong censorship during the drafting of the report. FFII president Pieter Hintjens says, "the chairman, SAP, exploited their position to make sure that reform-oriented comments were excluded and debate was silenced. Overall the report reflects the opinion of a very small but controlling minority - and certainly no SMEs - while claiming to be representative."

Hintjens continues: "I am astounded that the EPO, a patent administration body who blatantly lobby for the patent industry, can be allowed to participate in a so-called SME task force. It was a farce. This report is a mockery and an insult to all those who participated in good faith."

Contact information

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

About the FFII

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.

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