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September 24 is 'World Day Against Software Patents'

Brussels, 2nd September 2008 — A global coalition of more than 80 software companies, associations and developers has declared the 24th of September to be the "World Day Against Software Patents". Five years ago, on 24 September 2003, the European Parliament adopted amendments to limit the scope of patent law and thereby protect small software companies from the harmful effects of broad and trivial software patents. A global petition asking to effectively stop software patents worldwide will be launched on 24 September 2008, together with specific additional requests for certain regions such as Europe, the United States or India.



On 24 September 2008, the World Day Against Software Patents will provide volunteers with the opportunity to express the growing concerns of users, businesses and developers. The granting of software patents by patent offices around the world affects their freedom to innovate. The organisers expect 24h of activities across the globe. Volunteers will gather in front of patent offices to inform the general public of the problems underlying software patenting.

“Volunteers will gather in front of patent offices to inform the general public of the problems underlying software patenting.”A global petition demanding to effectively stop software patents worldwide will be launched on the same day. In some regions of the world such as Europe, the United States, or India, dedicated campaigns are being prepared by local supporters. The organisers intend to celebrate the World Day on an annual basis unless substantive clarifications are adopted in national laws that stop software patenting along with their effects on the digital economy.

Benjamin Henrion, initiator of the StopSoftwarePatents coalition effort, explains "The aim behind StopSoftwarePatents is to gather a worldwide coalition of businesses and civil society in order to get laws which clearly exempt software from patentable subject matter. This is the best solution for getting rid of 'patent trolls' and uncontrollable legal risks generated by software patents. The day the software industry forms a clear front against software patents will be the beginning of the end for the 'patent trolls'."

The Belgian campaigner was among the persons who persuaded the members of the European Parliament five years ago to adopt amendments that limit the scope of patent law in order to protect small software companies. The European Council of Ministers - where national patent offices exercise significant influence - fiercely insisted on making software patents legal in Europe. Additionally, 'patent trolls' and US-based corporations invested large lobby resources to support the position of the Council. After a long struggle, the proposed directive was finally rejected by the European Parliament in its second reading. Since then, European and national patent offices continue to grant these software and business method patents without an approval of the legislator by creative interpretation of the European Patent Convention.

In few other nations, notably the US, the patent offices are even more permissive. However, even in the US, no legislator ever approved the practise. The global coalition calls for a larger representation of business and civil society against software patents. The current lobby gap makes Congress and Senate, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and the Supreme Court susceptible to lobbying from patent industries, holders and patent professionals. Although companies affected by software patent litigation have been lobbying for a reform, their advocacy for "quality" and "lower damages" targets the symptoms rather than the roots of the problem.    [more information]

Software patents protest in India

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