EUPACO was an initiative of the Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting a free market in software and ideas, working through its affiliate the European Software Market Association (Esoma), and organized in collaboration with many independent stake holders, academics, and businesses.
Reacting to moves to expand the patentability of software in Europe, the FFII campaigned against proposed amendments to the European Patent Convention in 2000. It subsequently opposed the directive on software patents proposed by the Commission in 2002 and ultimately voted down by the European Parliament in 2005.
Recognizing its many years of research, policy, and action, CNET awarded FFII the Outstanding Contribution to Software Development Award for 2005. FFII continues to defend a free and competitive software market by working towards sustainable patent systems, open standards, and the wider needs of free and open information infrastructure.
In the course of debate over software patents and, recently, debate over the European Patent Litigation Agreement, it has become apparent to FFII and many others that the development of patent policy suffered from a number of interrelated problems:
- opacity and technical discourse that can often be used in to confuse and intimidate policymakers;
- domination by professional intermediaries and organizations with a direct interest in expansion of patent systems;
- inadequate attention to empirical evidence, especially in the frequently heard claim that patents are the sole motivators of innovation;
- a common misunderstanding of patents as rights to exploit rather than rights to exclude;
- a lack of reporting and statistical framework;
- inability to link patent practice to economic results;
- over-reliance on the U.S. as a model of patent administration, law, and practice — combined with an inadequate understanding of the U.S. experience;
- failure to understand the systemic nature of the patent system, as seen in:
- over-emphasis on patents as assets rather than liabilities;
- excessive attention to benefits rather than costs;
- emphasis on SME patent assertions in contrast to SME defense against patents;
- lack of appreciation for the risk and uncertainty burdens of patents.
The purpose of EUPACO is not to belabor these problems but to promote a balanced, high-level dialog on patent policy and the future of the European patent system. EUPACO brings researchers, stakeholders, and policymakers together in constructive discourse in a setting conducive to mutual understanding.
EUPACO was founded and chaired by FFII past-president Pieter Hintjens.