Do we really want to see Bill Gates behind bars?
The aim of IPRED 2 is to stop piracy. But not all commercial violations of "intellectual property" rights are piracy. If we want to stop piracy, the thing to do is to stop counterfeiting. Beyond counterfeiting, things are unclear and very complicated.
In copyright, parodies, independent recreations and citations are free. The question whether something is an "independent recreation" or a violation of copyright is a though question. Questions like these should be handled in civil courts, not criminal courts. For reasons of human rights, criminal laws require more precise definitions. And criminal law should be the ultimum remedium.
IPRED 2 covers 11 "intellectual property" rights. We see counterfeiting with copyright and trade marks. What are the other 9 "intellectual property" rights doing in IPRED 2?
The aim of IPRED 2 is to stop piracy. But piracy is already forbidden in European countries. On a world-wide scale, the TRIPS treaty sees to that. The problem has already been solved. IPRED 2 goes further than solving the problem, and becomes a problem itself.
The Commission made no assessment of the current situation. Are there any real problems today due to unintended legal limitations? How would the directive work out in various criminal law systems?
In some cases, like trade names, prison sentences go up more than a 100 times. IPRED 2 is excessive and distorts carefully balanced national procedural law systems.
In trade marks, currently typically only counterfeiting is a crime. Trademark infringement in general is very complicated and subtle. Not suited for criminal sanctions.
Patent law has many issues. Definitions are unclear and drifting. There is a major quality problem. In some sectors, like the software industry, it is impossible not to violate patents. Microsoft has been violating many patents, and had to pay huge damages. But do we really want to see Bill Gates in prison? Do we really want to see our neighbor, that hardworking owner of a Small or Medium Sized Enterprise, put away for 4 years? IPRED 2 sets the framework. It is the lowest form of lawmaking.
Big companies want to lock in customers, lock out competitors, acquire as many rights as possible and make these rights as strong as possible. The lawmaker has to strike a fair balance. IPRED 2 is not balanced.
For the sake of responsible lawmaking, protection of carefully balanced national procedural law systems, subsidiarity and legal security, we ask you to say No to these superfluous and detrimental proposals.
On July 6th the European Parliament rejected the software patents directive. We heartily thank you for that. The IPRED 2 directive is even more absurd. It should be rejected in first reading. We wish the Parliament the wisdom it had on July 6th 2005.