Brussels, 31 January 2013 — A draft trade agreement between the European Union and Canada (CETA) threatens the Internet, health and democracy, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). The agreement contains an investor-state arbitration clause, which gives multinational companies the right to directly sue states in international tribunals. CETA places these arbitration tribunals above the high courts of Europe and Canada. (-> Version Française)
Investor-state arbitration clauses give multinationals the right to sue countries if they dislike legislative changes. Tobacco company Philip Morris sued Australia over the Tobacco Plain Packaging Bill, which introduced restrictions on the use of cigarette company’s logos on cigarette packets and allow for more space for health warnings.
[ Francais ] — [ Deutsch ]
Munich, 15 January 2013 – The king of trivial software and business methods patents, Amazon’s “one-click gift order”, is still not dead in Europe. After 15 years of existence, the European Patent Office (EPO) today revoked it on precarious grounds which warrant another appeal. This patent EP0927945 was already revoked once in 2007, after being granted in 2003. However the Technical Board of Appeal (TBA) revived the patent in 2009 and resubmitted it to the Opposition Division, because the “single action” (one click) had not yet be proven to be known in the prior art. In today’s hearing, the Opposition Division considered this feature both patentable and novel, but not inventive.
Munich, 14 January 2013 — For Tuesday the European Patent Office (EPO) scheduled a hearing on the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure’s (FFII) opposition to the legendary “one-click gift order” patent from online retailer Amazon.com Inc.
In 2004 the FFII e.V. filed an opposition to Amazon.com’s “one-click gift order” patent grant. FFII board member Stephan Uhlmann: “Software patents hinder innovation and our digital economy as whole. We took on a show case of a software patent while European officials told us software patents were not existent.” Three years later the EPO revoked the patent because of non-inventiveness. After Amazon appealed the decision in 2008, the EPO restored its validity and remitted the case to the first instance.
Brussels, 21 November 2012 — This monday, the Cypriot Presidency stated in parliament that they are “aware of concerns that the legislator can be deprived of their legislative competence”. In fact the new patent compromise is similar to the “a death certificate in patent law” for the European Parliament, says Benjamin Henrion, president of the FFII. According to leaks published by PCinpact, the latest compromise seeks to remove the role of the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice from any power in the proposed patent system (articles 6-8). Benjamin Henrion, president of FFII, warns: “The Council asks basically to the European Parliament to sign their death certificate in patent law. No part of the proposed system will be under the control of an elected legislator.
Brussels, 23 July 2012 — The European Commission blocks TOR users’ access to its web site. TOR is an internet anonymisation technology and became widely popular for its facilitating role in the Arab spring movement. “This is ironic, the Commission is conducting a public consultation on net neutrality, and they already censor a part of the internet to access their site”, finds FFII President Benjamin Henrion. He was troubled by the issue when he tried to access the consultation website from European Commissioner Neelie Kroes. “The European Commission is seeking answers to questions on specific aspects of transparency, traffic management and switching in an Open Internet”, the website says.
Today the FFII sent an open letter to The President of the European Parliament. See below or the pdf. See also our press release and the French translation: ACTA menace innovation et droits fondamentaux. ====
ACTA endangers innovation and fundamental rights
Open letter to The President of the European Parliament
28 June 2012
Dear Mr Schulz,
On 6 July 2005, the European Parliament almost unanimously rejected the software patents directive. The monopolisation of software ideas was a too serious threat to small and medium sized enterprises and innovation.
Strasbourg, 27 april 2012 — British Telecom patent lawyer Simon Roberts warned that current plans for an EU patent court are a fuel for patent trolls. The current plans for an EU patent court will allow countries such as Germany to keep their bifucarted court system, which acts like a magnet for companies that want to enforce patents. Microsoft recently moved out of Germany because of the unbalanced of the german court system. Simon Roberts of BT complained about the german court system, which favours patent owners by separating infringement and validaty proceedings. A product can be banned from the german market even if the patent is found invalid a year later.
Brussels, 1st April 2012 — The Council of European ministers agreed today on the location of the future European Patent Court, which is going to be located in Sealand, 10 kilometers off the English coast. The European patent community has finally achieved independence from elected parliaments. Georg Friedrich Reichmann, patent attorney in Munich, is happy about the agreement: “Sealand is the perfect location for the court. Since the patent system is a very special part of law, it should have its own court clearly detached from the law of the Member States. It is the final victory for the patent community to achieve independence – we have been trying to achieve that for more than 50 years.”
Karlsruhe, 28 March 2012 — 1&1, GMX and WEB.DE receive the German Document Freedom Award for the use of Open Standards. The prize is awarded by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V. (FFII). 1&1 is awarded for automatically adding XMPP for all customers of their mail services. The Document Freedom Award is awarded annually on the occasion of Document Freedom Day – the international day for Open Standards. Last years winners include tagesschau.de, Deutschland Radio, and the German Foreign Office.
Brussels, 17 Feb 2012 — The European Parliament Consumer Committee is on the verge to reform the standardisation process in Europe. The reform recognises patented interface specifications which discriminate Free Software implementations. Royalties over standards create an unavoidable barrier of entry in the market for small software companies and independent developers. Benjamin Henrion, president of the association complains: “The payment of royalties makes it impossible to distribute free software on the web. It creates an enormous barrier of entry for small companies and independent developers.