FFII condemns investor-to-state arbitration in trade talks with US

Brussels, 14 June 2013 — The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) condemns the inclusion of investor-to-state dispute settlement in the mandate for trade talks with the United States. Investor-to-state dispute settlement gives multinationals the possibility to sue states for special tribunals if changes in law may lead to lower profits than expected. This threatens democracy, the public interest and copyright and patent law reform, according to the FFII. Today the EU Council is expected to grant the Commission a mandate to open trade negotiations with the United States. During the discussions on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), civil society groups warned that ACTA would make it impossible to reform dysfunctional aspects of copyright and patent law.

FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee on agreement with US

Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament committee on International Trade. Thursday 25 April 2013 the committee will vote on 198 amendments to a draft resolution on the EU – US trade agreement (TTIP / TAFTA)

Text as pdf, or below:

22 April 2013

Dear Members of the International Trade committee,

We are writing to express our concerns with the proposed trade agreement with the US (TTIP). We invite you to take our concerns into account when voting on the amendments to the draft resolution on the TTIP. In this letter we argue that citizens have a right to openness; that all measures in the agreement have to fully respect our rights enshrined in human rights instruments, including the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; that the agreement has to exclude intellectual property rights; and that the Parliament has to step in and defend democracy and the Treaties by excluding investor to state dispute settlement from the agreement. Openness

The agreement will mostly attempt to deeply integrate EU and US laws, as the trade tariffs between the EU and US are already low.

German Bundestag challenges European software patenting

Berlin, 18 April 2013 — A cross-partisan Deutsche Bundestag resolution on software patenting received its plenary first reading. The resolution asks for changes to the controversial granting of software patents by patent institutions. The resolution follows up on an earlier resolution from 2005 and sents a forceful German message to Commissioner Michel Barnier. Brussels is asked to take action on a clarification concerning the overlap of software copyright with patent law. The Bundestag which unlike the European Parliament enjoys a right of legislative initiative threatens to take national action.

taz.die tageszeitung receives Document Freedom Germany Award

Berlin, 27 March 2013 — The German newspaper taz.die tageszeitung (TAZ) receives this year’s Document Freedom Day award. With this award, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) honour organisations that make exemplary use of Open Standards. Torsten Grote (FSFE), Ines Pohl (taz), Erik Albers (FSFE), Ralf Klever (taz), Frank Doepper (taz), Stephan Uhlmann (FFII
The TAZ receives the Document Freedom award because it delivers its electronic paper to its subscribers in a choice of open formats, and without digital restrictions (DRM). “We are awarding the TAZ with the Document Freedom Award for their longstanding commitment to Open Standards and continuos efforts in offering their newspaper without restrictions” says Erik Albers, Fellowship Coordinator Berlin. TAZ subscribers can receive their paper in HTML, PDF, ePub, and even plain text formats.

Civil society organisations say no to intellectual property in EU – US trade agreement

Brussels, 18 March 2013 — More than 35 European and United States civil society organisations insist that a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US exclude any provisions related to patents, copyright, trademarks, or other forms of so-called “intellectual property”. Such provisions could impede citizens’ rights to health, culture, and free expression and otherwise affect their daily lives. FFII analyst Ante Wessels: “The industry already dreams of setting a gold standard in areas such as intellectual property rights protection. Does that sound familiar? Yes, it does.

Ministers signed Unitary Patent Court agreement

(-> Version Française)
Brussels, 20 February 2013 – After almost 40 years of deliberations the Irish Presidency managed to get most European member states to formally sign an agreement on a Unitary Patent Court without European substantive patent law. The Court would be seated in three member states. Contrary to rumors Italy and the Czech Republic signed the agreement. Poland and Spain boycott it. A court case from Italy and Spain is pending at the European Court of Justice.

CETA threatens Internet, health and democracy

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)

Bypass democracy
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.

Amazon one-click patent still lingering in Europe after 15 years

[ 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.

FFII still challenges Amazon one-click gift order patent

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.

Unitary Patent: Council asks Parliament to sign its death certificate in patent law

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.