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12.13.10

McCreevy’s Successors Are Getting Their Way With Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The theme, or the background music, to both of these particular directives you could see as part of, anti-globalisation, anti-Americanism, anti-big business protests — in lots of senses, anti-the opening up of markets.”

Charlie McCreevy

Summary: Barnier and van Quickenborne step forward with a bad plan by excluding Italy

FOR THOSE who are new to the antics of Charlie McCreevy, this is the person who for several years threatened to create a route which would facilitate patenting of software in Europe. McCreevy failed despite daemonisation of his critics, but the same old proposals kept renaming themselves and they fell into the hands of people equally dangerous, to whom ruining Europe’s advantage when it comes to patents seemed like a goal. Barnier et al. [1, 2, 3] did some of the work and Vincent van Quickenborne, who kept ignoring the problems (at times even citing Microsoft lobbyists from the United States) was also a big pusher for the McCreevy agenda [1, 2, 3, 4]. Now they call it “EU patent” and Microsoft has been lobbying very hard for it. To Microsoft, the return on investment is huge even if they can just alter a few words. Microsoft seems to be in the process of becoming a patent troll, so it wants its patents to be valid in Europe.

On Friday there was a disturbing new development because a Council Meeting sought to exclude opposition by excluding entire countries as we will show later in the post. Financial blackmail was also considered as an option by some.

After it turned out in the extraordinary Competitiveness Council meeting of 10 November 2010 that, due to the controversy regarding a commonly accepted language regime, “there will never be unamity on a EU patent” (see this post and the press conference of Mr Vincent Van Quickenborne), the “willing” EU member states intensified the discussion on (and apparently their efforts towards) an enhanced co-operation, i.e. an EU legislative agreement among a small group of EU members to launch a diminished EU patent based on the ‘Munich’ three languages system, as proposed by the European Commission on 30 June 2010.

[...]

Anyway. It is expected that Frenchman Michel Barnier, the EU commissioner for internal market and services, will present a proposal to the Competitiveness Council on the next meeting, which Mr Van Quickenborne expects to be “decisive on the single EU Patent” in a recent tweet.

Why is he trying to become an enemy of software in the EU? It’s not even about software freedom, it’s about the interests of all software developers who reside in Europe. The EU Council Press also attributes this to Vincent van Quickenborne:

Competitiveness #EUCouncil tomorrow chaired by @VincentVQ to discuss #EU patent http://bit.ly/g1M0wG cc @EPOorg

Unlike what this headline may suggest, it’s not final, but it sure seems like countries are being pressured to comply with bad ideas.

So far there are 10. At least nine EU countries were needed to make an end-run around Italy to create a united patent and protect the design of products sold across their borders.

“Spain’s veto on EU patent” is also being treated as a nuisance rather than an opportunity to understand the real situation.

Ten European Union countries have formally asked to create a common patent regime after Italy and Spain blocked attempts to introduce an EU-wide system, EU market regulation commissioner Michel Barnier said Wednesday.

‘I have received a letter from 10 states,’ Barnier said, mentioning Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden.

The group wants to start a so-called ‘enhanced cooperation’ – the practice which allows a minimum of nine EU countries to go pursue a common initiative even if not all others want to take part in it.

They are trying to humiliate and shame countries into it.

More here:

Ten member states have sent an official formal request to Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier calling for enhanced cooperation on the creation of an EU patent. France, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Sweden requested that the EU executive submit to the Council a proposal for the establishment of such cooperation under the terms of Article 329 TFEU with regard to the creation a Community patent protection covering the territories of participating member states.

As the president of the FFII put it

Barnier also promised there would be ‘no discrimination for any business’ filing for patent protection (a lie) http://ur1.ca/2jnby

Vincent van Quickenborne is just excited to do this harm in defense of which he cites Microsoft lobbyists. “11 countries signed the letter for enhanced cooperation. SWE NL FI DK LT FR EE SL DE LUX UK,” he wrote. The EU Council Press seems to just be a booster of it as it calls it a “cherry on the cake”:

.@VincentVQ on #EUpatent: “Today’s result is the cherry on the cake of the Belgian Presidency of the #EU #Council” #eutriobe

Here is one summary from the FFII (no formal response yet because it has been a weekend):

Ten member states have sent an official formal request to Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier calling for enhanced cooperation on the creation of an EU patent.

Here is the only response we’ve found from FFII so far and a response from lawyers who profit from legal chaos (Falk Metzler, for example, with a press release).

@Keinpatent got #EPO #patent on tomato and broccoli dropped! Congrats

FSFE links to a WIPO study and says: “no robust empirical evidence that stronger patent rights stimulate growth”, sez #WIPO study http://ur1.ca/2j474 [PDF] Times a’changing?”

If that’s the case, why is Europe strengthening patents by expanding their scope? It makes no sense.

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