Official Results of German governmental survey show industry consensus against software patents
With a delay of 7 months the results of a government-ordered survey on software patents and a interoperability study have been published. Previously the Ministry of Economics had suppressed publication of the study after protests from Bitkom, the German branch of EICTA, and from the Ministry of Justice, which resented the interference in its turf. A partial evaluation showed last month that the study revealed nearly unanimous animosity against software patents among German companies in the ICT sector, based on fairly detailed knowledge of the problems. The full publication of the results from all 1200 participants confirmed this picture. A study about Interoperability/Patent protection and Competition recommends improvements with regard to Article 6a.
Key facts in English
There were 1214 answers to the study (585 1-4 employees, 159 5-9 e., 122 10-19 e., 92 20-49 e., 67 50-199 e., 34 200-499 e., 51 >=500 e., 104 no data, at least representing 40,194 employees)
- A large majority of the responding companies fears impairing effects
- 1011 companies (83%) indicate they lack the means and expertise to discover whether or not their products infringe on patents
- 902 companies (74%) insist on an interoperability exemption
915 companies (75%) fear that due to software patents they won't be able to effectively compete in the market anymore, only 23 companies (2%) anticipate the contrary option, to be able be "better dominate certain markets", among companies > 500 employees the ratio is 29:6, 200-500 employees the ratio is 19:1.
- On a scale of -3 to 3 "How will software patents influence the innovation ability of your company" scored -1.5 (negative influence, 94% of interviewees responding), and "Do software patents have supporting or inhibiting effects on your programming activities now or in the future?" scored -2.58 (inhibiting, 97.12% of respondents). "How do software patents affect the calculation of product prices?" ranked 2.45 (higher prices, 96.62% responding). "How much use for you has the know-how gain by the publication of the software patents by third parties?" scored -2.41 (no practical use, 89.30% responding).
2005-05-04 DE English translation of the study by FFII