Developers Alliance welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on the European Commission’s roadmap for the IP Action Plan. Developers Alliance advocates on behalf of software developers and the companies invested in their success, to support the industry’s continued growth, and promote innovation.

  1. We support further measures for raising awareness and enabling uptake of IP, especially by SMEs. In the same vein, we salute Commissions’ commitment to “offer targeted guidance to businesses to help prevent cyber-theft of trade secrets”. To be noted that technology startups often rely on trade secrets as the most appropriate tools to protect their innovative products.

  2. We appreciate the Commissions’ engagement to “continue to monitor the application of the IPR Enforcement Directive to ensure it is effective and balanced, particularly on injunctions”. The prevention of potential abusive litigation practices is of particular interest for developer small businesses that could be targeted by patent trolling.

  3. It is not clear what “a European approach to AI and IP protection” would imply. We recommend a careful consideration of the need to amend the current IP protection system in relation to the development of AI. We remind that the European Patent Office states in its Guidelines for examination that artificial intelligence and machine learning “are based on computational models and algorithms” and applies the same approach as for mathematical methods and computer programs (provided in art. 52.2.a) and c) of the European Patent Convention). We also emphasize the importance of open source software collaborative environments for AI development, especially from the perspective of startups and SMEs.

  4. The proposal to “explore ways to promote the sharing of privately held data whilst retaining return on investment” should be strictly correlated with other policies and existing legislation. We are underlining in our position on the Data Strategy that it is essential to preserve the voluntary nature of privately held data sharing, to avoid, among other unintended consequences, undermining the incentive to innovate.

  5. Besides ensuring that “the Copyright Directive is implemented promptly”, we suggest that the EC should actively engage with the Member States in order to ensure a harmonized and coherent interpretation and application of this important legal framework. Legal clarity, including on fair use, is crucial for stakeholders. With reference to the proposal to ‘promote an efficient use of high quality rights-management metadata in the copyright market’, it is of critical importance an easy to use mechanism to identify rights owners in digital assets or online, perhaps through an industry-agreed rights management protocol.

  6. When pursuing the objective to “harness the EU’s capacity to act as a global standard-setter in key areas such as IP and AI” one should also take into account that many AI systems, like the large majority of software solutions, are developed in a collaborative environment at global level. As mentioned in our position on the White Paper on AI, the developer community relies on open source software from both inside and outside the EU. Any new requirements affecting advanced software solutions deployed in the EU must consider the impact on existing practices and avoid putting EU developers at a disadvantage. The conflict of laws and different standards across jurisdictions represent an important barrier for ambitious technology start-ups and SMEs.

The original submission can be found on the European Commission’s site here.

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