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.
Brussels, 10 February 2012 — The Consumer Committee (IMCO) within the European Parliament is considering an overhaul of the current standardisation system in Europe. The FFII presents a paper on the proposed recognition of ICT specifications from consortia. “They propose minimum rules against trade and antitrust abuses. It’s hard to imagine up an awkward specification which would fail the test”, explains FFII standards analyst André Rebentisch. The Commission proposal does not limit official recognition to ‘open specifications’ (royalty-free patent terms) but also makes consortial specifications under so called “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” (FRAND) qualify.
Brussels, 26 January 2012 — Today the European Union and member states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in Tokyo, Japan. Signing is a first step to enable later ratification of the controversial agreement. The United States already announced they would not ratify it and their legislature would not be bound by it. According to the FFII signing is only the very start of the actual debate in Europe. “Our representatives in the European Parliament still have to decide whether to consent.
Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament about the EP legal service’s opinion on ACTA. (pfd version)
Brussels, 23 January 2012 — The European Parliament’s legal service consistently overlooks known issues with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). In the coming months the European Parliament will have to decide whether to give consent to ACTA or not. In preparation, the Parliament’s International Trade and Legal Affairs committees asked the Parliament’s legal service an opinion on ACTA. The FFII compared the legal service’s opinion with multiple academic opinions on ACTA and some civil society analyses.
Berlin / Paris, April 14th 2011 — FFII and AFUL ask consumers affected by operating system bundling or businesses involved in bundling to provide their evidence to the European Competition authority. “My choice is Debian GNU/Linux”, explains FFII Vice president Rene Mages. “Why have I been compelled to pay and erase Windows 7 at purchase time?” The European Commission admits it was aware of the difficulties encountered by consumers who want to purchase a PC with a non-Microsoft operating system or without any operating system at all. But they also say they lack evidence suggesting that this is the result of practices in violation of EU competition rules.
Brussels, 9 November 2011 — On 23 November the European Parliament Committee on International Trade will discuss ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) behind closed doors. In a letter to the Chairman of the committee, Mr Moreira, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure objects to the meeting being held behind closed doors. Since the publication of the ACTA text, discussions on ACTA have to take place in public, according to the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure). On 23 November the INTA (International Trade) committee will discuss the confidential European Parliament legal service’s opinion on ACTA. The FFII wants the opinion published before the November 23th meeting.
Brussels, 14 October 2011 — In an open letter to the members of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) urges them to formulate an opinion on ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). ACTA is a multilateral agreement which proposes international standards for enforcement of intellectual property rights. According to the FFII, research has shown serious fundamental rights issues. A group of prominent European academics published an opinion on ACTA. They conclude that certain ACTA provisions are not entirely compatible with EU law and will directly or indirectly require additional action on the EU level.
Brussels, 24 May 2011 — The European Parliament should decisively resolve uncertainties regarding ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement), according to an open letter to the Members of the European Parliament by the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure). The FFII urges the Parliament to seek an opinion of the European Court of Justice on the compatibility of ACTA with the EU Treaties, and to commission independent assessments of the effects ACTA will have on access to medicine, diffusion of green technologies needed to fight climate change, fundamental rights, innovation, small and medium sized companies and a fair balance of interests. “We now know the devastating effects that IP (‘intellectual property’) enforcement may have on societies”, the FFII says in the letter. A few years after the European Community ratified the 1994 WTO TRIPS agreement, the AIDS epidemic took millions of lives in Africa. Protected by TRIPS, pharmaceutical companies sold AIDS medicine in Africa for prices higher than in the US.