Interoperability is of crucial importance to preserve choice for European consumers between competing offerings, and to preserve the equality of opportunity that the European IT sector needs to flourish. CII patents are desirable to foster innovation in Europe, but if patents could be used to prevent software vendors from developing new programs that can communicate with other programs used by the customers, users may find themselves locked into buying programs from one vendor. To avoid stifling innovation and reducing user freedom of choice, the members of ECIS believe that an interoperability exception is needed.
The European Parliament in first reading adopted an Article 6a which took this concern into account. However, some have considered the Parliament’s text to be overly broad, potentially effectively eviscerating the rights of the patent right holder.
ECIS’ compromise proposal for Article 6a addresses the interoperability concern by providing a narrow exception permitting the use of patented technology to the extent indispensable for the development and sale of products that interoperate with the product protected by the patented technology or with other products. It is a limited, well-defined and clear exception to the exclusive rights of patent owners, striking a proper balance between the legitimate interests of patent rights owners and third parties, including both third-party software developers and end-users. ECIS is presenting its proposal to the European institutions for considerations.