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Linux bods petition over European patent laws

Online protest gathers apace

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Eurolinux.org, together with some other non-profit organisations, has produced an online petition for the European Parliament protesting against planned changes in European patent laws.

We briefly touched on the topic last week in which the distinction between software in itself (which cannot be patented) and software that "achieves a technical effect" (which can) is being debated. It is down to the Internet's influence that the issue has become a hot topic.

On the one hand, companies are investing heavily in systems that give them a competitive edge and are annoyed that others feel free to steal them wholesale; on the other, changing the law has serious consequences for competition and innovation in the market.

The petition also raises what it calls the "current track record of abuses" by the European Patent Office, accusing it of stretching its judicial powers. Its goal is to warn the European Parliament about the wider implications of a change in the law and it asks for a full report into related effects before any decisions are made.

This is a complicated situation and so we'll hold off from putting in our two cents worth at the moment. We are very supportive of greater awareness of the issue though, so check out the various links in the petition and tell us what you think. ®

You can find the petition here.

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