01.30.08

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Lobbyists Among the Causes for Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Dell, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 2:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Moneyville

We recently highlighted one of the main reasons for gradual legalisation of software patents. It is, among other factors (e.g. Nokia), a question of political corruption. Digital Majority has published a large number of links in the past few days. Here is one of them:

Europe’s World: Regulating Brussels’ legion of lobbyists

The Commission believes that this sort of financial disclosure will indicate the level of influence that a lobby group can be expected to have.

There is clearly quite a lot going on behind the scenes. In politics, there is little or no transparency. One has to remember the bullying which Dell, for example, received (and possibly still received) from Microsoft when it offered GNU/Linux options. It all happened behind the scenes. Antitrust documents show this in details with Microsoft E-mails that speak about “whacking” Dell, “knifing the baby”, making the OEMs “do the delicate dance” and so forth. We covered some other examples in the past.

On the other side in Europe, there exists a very transparent movement. The Free Software Foundation Europe has just vowed to work against software patents. From a recent announcement:

A new antitrust case may be undertaken after complaints by Opera Software that Microsoft has willfully distorted the web browser marketplace. It’s also important to note that this does not in any way solve the problem with patents on software. Such patents are still being granted by the European Patent Office (EPO) in violation of current law, and the FSFE is encouraging the European Commission to take actions to permanently abolish patents on software, both in theory and practice.

There is some other rather discouraging news from Europe, such as this development: (all links found in Digital Majority by the way)

Slovenian Minister of Economy Andrej Vizjak has said that Slovenia will work towards a European patent litigation system and community patent during its Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2008, a press release by the European Patent Office (EPO) stated.

Speaking to the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs earlier this week, Vizjak said a “strengthened and improved European patent system” was crucial for “competitiveness and growth of the European economy”.

In other patent news:

Vonage chief stays sunny about the future

Vonage’s survival didn’t seem so certain in 2007. Vonage spent the year battling a patent-infringement lawsuit filed by Verizon. The telecom giant accused Vonage of violating several of its patents that set out methods and protocols for passing calls between the Web and conventional phone networks.

Gemstar EPG patent strategy, sue first then talk

Last week Gemstar sued Virgin Media for patent infringement before a UK court. Gemstar holds IP rights to a number of “interactive television”, or, more precisely, EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) patents, in the US also known as “interactive programme guides” or IPGs.

Some of the stories above clearly justify the need for immediate change.

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