FFII: EU Trade Agreement with Korea Endangers Developers

Jan 10, 2010

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) perceives the free trade agreement of the EU with Korea as a massive competitive disadvantage to the EU and a danger to software developers, free software projects and small and mid-sized companies.

The protest of the FFI addresses the Korea Free Trade Agreement clause for intellectual property rights where large penalties for patent infringements are established. Covered among them are damage payments, destruction of production materials and removal of online software repositories. Circumstantial evidence is enough to initiate seizures and injunctions and any accusation can lead to frozen development. Thus the FFI, after its analysis, came to the conclusion that the Korean Free Trade Agreement was a threat to software providers, free software projects, and actually any undertaking that in any way implements software.

FFI analyst Ante Wessels finds the sanctions to have disproportionate penalties: "These strong measures may be justified against hard core counterfeiters. They are not justified against software developers. Software patents are so broad in scope, doubtful in validity, and so numerous that unintentional infringement is unavoidable in the normal course of business. Therefore, competitors and patent trolls can always find a stick to hit software companies, companies that use software and free software projects. The whole sector is at risk." He adds, "How many small and medium-sized enterprises have the money to defend themselves against this?"

The EU and Republic of Korea concluded the agreement after two years of secret negotiations. The agreement should now be ratified by the EU parliament and member nations. The FFII characterizes the intellectual property clauses of the agreement as detrimental to innovation and recommends that the EU parliament strike them from the agreement.

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