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09.11.10

European Patent Law is Being Abducted by Big Business and Patent Lawyers

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 1:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Car vandalism

Summary: Europe may lose its advantage (for software developers) if it loses its sovereignty to hostile interest groups which strive to loot the continent using lawsuits

SLASHDOT has this interesting new entry citing some American press [1, 2] and quoting Foxconn’s founder as saying: “I worry America has too many lawyers. I don’t want to spend time having people sue me every day.”

Richard Stallman had the foresight to tell Europe that by rejecting software patents it will position itself favourably. European developers who don’t work for multinationals such as Microsoft (money talks) understand this because it takes very fundamental logic to grasp. Europe can leave US-based companies to fight among themselves, whereas Europe will serve as somewhat of a haven sheltering innovative minds that make good software. Nothing good ever comes out of lawsuits over software patents.

“Nothing good ever comes out of lawsuits over software patents.”The FFII suspects that there is a “power struggle between Council and Commission” in Europe, involving Jose Manuel Barroso of course. Obligatory attendance does not sound quite right. We have already explained how the Commission in Brussels did more harm than good sometimes, at least regarding software patents.

The Belgian EU presidency (lobbied by Microsoft’s pressure group Association for Competitive Technology) seems to have a hand in the problems. As Axel H. Horns put it:

In an earlier posting I had reported that, on the first day of the Belgian EU Presidency, the EU Commission had published a Proposal for a Council Regulation (EU) on the translation arrangements for the European Union patent. This Document suggests to require human quality translations of EU patents only in case of a dispute. Otherwise, machine translations are deemed to be sufficient for informing the general public.

This is just shameful. Whose hands are in it? It gets even worse. “Usually patent offices set the agenda, not business,” wrote the FFII, citing the IAM crowd, which is a subscribers-only platform (lawyers’ echo chamber).

This system is seemingly being hijacked by those who want to exploit it for personal profitability. The patent system is supposed to be focused on other goals, but it is being changed while it's self-deluded.

Last week we showed the Advocates General saying that the current pan-European patent court proposal would violate the principles of some of the EU’s founding treaties. It’s still a struggle between business and between public servants who are sometimes elected by the public. The Register has the following take from UK patent attorneys:

The European Court of Justice should reject the opinion of its advisors and put pragmatic economics ahead of legal technicalities and approve a pan-EU patent court, the UK patent attorneys’ trade body has said.

Advocates General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in an opinion that the current proposal for a pan-European patent court violates the principles of some of the EU’s founding treaties.

But the Chartered Institute for Patent Attorneys (CIPA) has said that when making its final ruling the ECJ should make its decision in the light of the benefits such a court would bring to business.

That’s just appalling. Since when are lawyers (not elected officials with a legal background) determining the laws such that they increase their own profits? This is just cronyism. Lawyers are a big part of the problem here. Greed is an enemy of research and development.

In other news, WIPO transparency is said to be “threatened”. Was there ever transparency at all?

WIPO held its annual Program and Budget Committee meeting last week. The Committee discussed ways that it might better make its meetings and documents available in multiple languages. WIPO operates in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, and also Portuguese under specific conditions.

WIPO is designed to help oppressors maintain their power. It markets itself as defender of “innovation” rather than defender of gatekeepers. It was never particularly receptive to the needs of developing nations, much like the WTO. The world needs less regulation of this kind because it impedes the sharing that’s crucial for science to thrive everywhere.

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