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A compromise in European patenting debate?

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A week ahead of the European Parliament's vote on the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), the three major groups of MEPs that had been opposing the EPLA have unexpectedly reached a compromise agreement that means they will instead vote for the proposal.

Anti-software patent campaigner Florian Mueller described the proposals put forward by the conservative EPP-ED, the social democratic PES and the libertarian ALDE as a "pretty reasonable compromise", and a "defensive victory" for the anti-EPLA movement.

"Since those three groups have about 550 of the chamber's 732 seats, it's a mere formality for that compromise proposal to be carried by a solid majority," he writes.

The document calls for "significant improvements" to be made to the EPLA text. It argues that the flaws in the Community Patent proposal are unlikely to be resolved any time soon, but recognises the need for some kind of pan-European approach to patenting generally.

Against that background, the parties call for a legal review of the EPLA and for significant improvements to be made to the text. It also calls for a set of rules of procedure to be included in the proposal.

The FFII has described the proposal as "a compromise that prevents the worst", but you get the sense they would have preferred a more resolute position from the parliament.

The campaigners write: "According to this compromise resolution, the parliament basically supports the EPLA and asks for the EU to 'join the EPC', but calls for 'significant improvements' to the current EPLA text."

The FFII warns that without a concerted effort, even an amended EPLA will raise the costs of most patent lawsuits over the status quo, make patent lawsuits prohibitively expensive for those who publish software on the internet, threaten judicial independence, and pave the way for granting enforceable software patents in Europe.

It urges interested parties to contact their MEP "politely" to find out where they stand on the subject ahead of the vote on 11 and 12 October. ®

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