October 12, 2006

European Parliament turns around EPLA resolution

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Brussels, 12 October 2006 – In a new resolution on patent policy adopted with 494 to 109 votes, the European Parliament has stressed ongoing concerns with the patent granting practice of the European Patent Office and a lack of democratic control over the patent system. It is relatively silent about the EPLA, the draft treaty that set the ball rolling. The FFII welcomes the overall result.

The main proponents of the original pro-EPLA draft resolution, Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP (EPP-ED) and Sharon Bowles MEP (ALDE), were forced to give in and negotiate a compromise between the EPP-ED, PES and ALDE groups. After several dissenting MEPs in these and other groups stood up and filed a total of 10 amendments to the compromise text, they had to give in further and Lehne even filed an amendment to his own compromise. In the end, their groups supported about half of the tabled amendments.

The adopted result is a far cry from the first drafted resolution text, which almost unequivocally supported the EPLA. This circulated draft resulted in a counter-resolution by the PES, Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL expressing concerns about the EPLA’s weak points such as litigation costs and the lack of the patent establishment’s accountability and judicial independence.

The ensuing negotiations ended with an almost aimless compromise text accepted by the EPP-ED, PES and ALDE negotiators, and the PES withdrew its signature from the EPLA-critical resolution. Finally amendments were tabled to this compromise resolution by the Greens/EFA, GUE/NGL, PES, EPP-ED and a group of dissenting EPP-ED/PES/ALDE MEPs lead by Zvěřina MEP. Several of the key amendments were adopted.

“We’re 80% happy with the result” comments Jonas Maebe, FFII board member. “The main unfortunate artefact left in the adopted resolution is the fact that it promotes accession of the EU to the European Patent Convention, which would delegate most patent-related responsibilities to the civil servants of the Commission and member states. Overall our main concerns are however addressed and we would like to congratulate the many MEPs and assistants who very worked very hard for this result.”

Erik Josefsson, reporting from the European Parliament in Brussels, concludes: “Many MEPs are happy we have helped them find a common ground. We are particularly proud that the EP is keeping an eye on the EPO. And the message is clear: don’t mess up innovation in the EU.”

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Contact Information

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03 (fixed)
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

Erik Josefsson
FFII representative
+32-484-082063
ehj at ffii.org
(Swedish/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.