07.13.09

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Microsoft Still Lobbies for Software Patents in Europe, via ACT/Jonathan Zuck

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 2:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bees

Summary: The FFII finds itself facing a drone of Microsoft rather than Microsoft itself

A FEW DAYS ago we showed that the activity of Microsoft front group ACT was backfiring when it comes to accusing the European Commission of discrimination. But on the patent front, this group continues doing Microsoft’s dirty work. From IP Watch (subscription needed):

But the main argument for continuing the discussions is the need for it, Josefsson said: “The urgency of making the patent system in Europe less costly and more accessible to particular small and medium-sized enterprises is there.” The software industry supports the Swedish efforts. Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, said: “The Swedish presidency’s commitment to move the EU Community Patent forward is a breath of fresh air. We wish the new presidency all the success in their negotiations to achieve the agreement that SMEs have been waiting for so long.”

It’s not just IP Watch which neglects to say that ACT speaks for Microsoft. Meller gives ACT exposure again (it is part of a pattern [1, 2, 3]), despite it being a Microsoft drone. From his article on the subject:

“The Swedish Presidency’s commitment to move the E.U. Community Patent forward is a breath of fresh air,” said Jonathan Zuck, President of the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), in a statement.

Why can’t Microsoft speak directly on this subject, especially in Europe? Is it afraid of the Commission? Must it instead send lobbying groups/fronts like the BSA, CompTIA, and ACT to represent it (see EIF lobby for example)? Microsoft has many lobbyists in Europe.

For a change (perhaps), FFII gets his share in this IDG/Meller article:

However, opponents of a unified patent system say just the opposite.

“With the financial crisis and climate change as looming priorities, the Swedish presidency is going to be hard-pressed to move forward an agenda that has been mired in deep political fights for the last thirty years,” said Benjamin Henrion, president of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).

The FFII argues that a Community Patent will make it easier to pass software patents in Europe, and it says a single patent litigation area is merely a way to circumvent the legal authority of the European Court of Justice, which it trusts could safeguard the E.U. from software patents.

“While large US software firms keep up their hopes for cheap enforceable software patents in Europe, the facts on the ground suggest that this debate will crawl, not run,” Henrion said.

Here is Henrion’s new presentation (also as HTML).

The EPO is on the wrong side of this debate because the more patents it grants (the broader the scope), the more money it makes. And watch this book which the EPO endorses/recommends now. It talks about software patents.

Two chapters were written by EPO experts: Nigel Clarke wrote about searching patent information, and Colin Stratford clarified the often misunderstood and misreported practice of the EPO with regard to computer-implemented inventions.

Jeremy Philpott leads the Innovation Support activities of the European Patent Academy, where he organises training programmes for business audiences across Europe on topics such as patent strategies and innovation management.

The pharmaceutical cartel, which Bill Gates invests billions of dollars in, is also pushing quite a lot for the “Community” patent in Europe. Digital Majority found confirmatory evidence also in this enormous document [PDF]. In the UK, the IPKats wrote about this too:

Market entry of generic drugs is delayed and there is a decline in the number of novel medicines reaching the market … The sector inquiry suggests that company practices are among the causes, but does not exclude other factors such as shortcomings in the regulatory framework. As a follow up, the Commission intends to intensify its scrutiny of the pharmaceutical sector under EC antitrust law, including continued monitoring of settlements between originator and generic drug companies. The first antitrust investigations are already under way. The report also calls on Member States to introduce legislation to facilitate the uptake of generic drugs. The report notes near universal support amongst stakeholders for a Community Patent [it has taken about two decades to win this battle...] and specialised patent litigation system [... and rather less time to win this one ...] in Europe [... but this is a much wider issue than pharma alone].

For those who are fairly new to this discussion, the pharmaceutical cartel is often accused of using patents to kill in the sense that people’s lives are held hostage [1, 2, 3]. The Guardian has a new article (from Sunday) on this subject:

Drug companies should give up their patent rights to HIV medicines to help prevent the deaths of millions of people in poor countries, a British government minister will say this week.

The international development minister, Mike Foster, will call on pharmaceutical companies to put lives before profits, as the all-party parliamentary group on Aids publishes a report this week detailing the scale of the “treatment timebomb”. By 2030, they estimate, 50 million people will need new drugs, which are currently prohibitively expensive, to keep them alive.

To summarise sensibly, it is important to know who is lobbying for this unification (“Community” patent) and why. This is a back door to software patents in Europe.

“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source. Making it easier for companies and communities that have patents to make those patents available in a common pool for people to use is one way to try to help developers deal with the threat.”

Linus Torvalds

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2 Comments

  1. André said,

    July 13, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Gravatar

    The article is misleading, there is no FFII position against the community patent (as such) and substantive patent harmonisation within the EU. Benjamin sees the new court as an instrument for a paneuropean hostile takeover of the legislative branch via a trusted court, but that is the plain result from studying the Council draft documents and their center of gravitation: The EPO in Munich.

  2. The Mad Hatter said,

    July 15, 2009 at 9:01 pm

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    As I’ve pointed out in more than one place, the problem isn’t software patents, it’s patents period. Any company that claims it needs patents to be competitive, is admitting that it’s incapable of competing on a level playing field. Its also admitting that its management is incompetent, but that’s another matter.

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