Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a European alliance defending your right to free and competitive software creation since 1999. We are working towards the mitigation of legal risks in software development. We do so by keeping software free from patents and promoting a digital infrastructure based on genuine open standards and free and open hardware and software.

The FFII famously made a difference to prevent a EU software patent directive and continues to shed light on the schemes of the patent system to enter the software sphere and detach itself from democratic and fiscal oversight. One recent example is the Unified Patent Court (UPC). A specialised court which fences patent reforms off. We rely on networking with the European Parliament members and partners from industry and civil society. Its work won the FFII the Outstanding contribution to software development prize by CNET.

Status of Software Patents in Europe

Now comes round 3. It started in July 2005, when the proponents of software patentability agreed to drop the directive and push for the Unitary Patent instead.

FFII summarizes the situation:

“In July 2005, after several failed attempts to legalise software patents in Europe, the patent establishment changed its strategy. Instead of explicitely seeking to sanction the patentabilitty of software, they are now seeking to create a central Unitary patent court (UPC), which would establish and enforce patentability rules in their favor, without any possibility of correction by competing courts or democratically elected legislators.”

Former EPO lobbyist, David Sant, also recognises that the Unitary Patent Court will lead to the validation of software patents:

“The acrimonious debate over the proposed directive on computer-implemented inventions might never have arisen if the patent litigation system in Europe had been unified, thereby eliminating the possibility of disparate national rulings on the same patent matter.”

Richard Stallman, of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), in Europe’s “unitary patent” could mean unlimited software patents:

“The volunteer activists drifted away, thinking the battle won, but the corporate lobbyists for software patents were paid to stay on the job. Now they have contrived another sneaky method: the “unitary patent” system proposed for the EU.”

See more quotes here.

Patented Webshop

The example of the FFII Patented Webshop demonstrates the effect of trivial software patent grants for business freedom in Europe. Website and posters are available in German and English.

Amazon Gift Ordering Patent

The FFII e.V. used the opportunity to file an opposition proceeding against the gift ordering patent (EP0927945 “Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network”) as an example for an eCommerce patent. Find out more about the FFII vs Amazon case.

Interoperability with Open Documents

The FFII ensures consumer rights and interoperability by researching and educating the public about EU policies such as the European Interoperability Framework. With the Document Freedom Award we award excellent examples of institutions on the Document Freedom Day.

Endorsement of Göttingen Declaration on Copyright in Education and Science

The FFII endorses the Göttingen Declaration Aktionsbündnis Urheberrecht für Bildung und Wissenschaft. FFII e.V. also has a working group dealing with the developments in the field of copyright.

World Day Against Software Patents

24th September is the annual World Day Against Software Patents to commemorate the struggle against the European Union Software Patent Directive. As every year our teams raise awareness about the impact of patents on the future of software development.

Event Participation and Organization

Members of the FFII regularly give presentations to educate the public. We participate in events about software patents, open standards, net neutrality, data retention and free informational infrastructures including the OpenTechSummit Europe, the Chaos Communication Congress, the LinuxTag, the Free Culture Forum and the The Knowright conference. At HSF Paris we were present with a talk on the EU Software Patents initiative. During the Evolution Summit the FFII presented a conception of culture that benefits everybody – citizens, creators and entrepreneurs. Also at FOSDEM the FFII board meets with stakeholders in the Free and Open Source community. Please read more about our event activities on our blog.