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New Zealand and Europe Should Both Actively Fight Against Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents, Red Hat at 2:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The lobby for software patents is very much alive in New Zealand and Europe

WHEN it comes to software patents, the situation in Europe is similar to the problems encountered in New Zealand (“embedded” trick which is back to the headlines), caused in part by lobby/front group NZICT. It lobbies for the interests which are opposite to New Zealand's by trying to encourage acceptance of software monopolies, mostly those from the United States. This lobby group is preparing a webinar, sponsored by the likes of Microsoft and IBM (which sponsor NZICT). To quote:

NZICT is gearing up to host a free webinar on February 15th over the revision of software patents and IPONZ’s guidelines.

In March last year, the Commerce Committee recommended that computer programs should not be a patentable invention.

Citizens of New Zealand ought to challenge these events whose purpose is to stage a tilted debate in hope of subverting the country’s patent law, primarily by influencing IPONZ (Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand). They should learn from the trouble in Europe. “EU study advocates criminalisation of patent infringements,” writes the FFII today, “[b]ut the EU study fails to prove IP criminal measures are essential” (the companies want a deterrent as such).

The FFII adds: “Would we like to see Steve Jobs behind bars? Or Doctors Without Borders?” Watch this summary about the EU plot as of late:

A study commissioned by the European Commission advocates the abolition of the national prosecutor’s discretion whether to prosecute and how to charge the defendant. It also argues in favor of a European criminal court and for the criminalisation of patent infringements. This is the study that paves the way, or should have paved the way, for EU intellectual property criminal measures.
We observe that the study fails to prove EU criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights are needed. Incidentally, this also indicates that the EU is not competent to ratify the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement’s criminal measures. Futhermore, criminalisation of patent infringements is a very bad idea. In the software sector, there are so many patents, infringement is often unavoidable. It may also endanger access to life saving generic medicine.

Glyn Moody calls it the “criminalisation of patent infringements,” which he in turn labels “insane”.

A patent attorney from Europe reveals more odd behaviour from the EPO. It’s in his blog post whose pointers appear to have been broken. Well, maybe the EPO had a change of heart, who knows?

Today, the European Patent Office (EPO) has made available (@EPOorg on Twitter) a second edition of An overview of the national patent litigation systems in Europe available for download on-line. The text provides an overview of the national patent litigation systems across the European Patent Organisation’s 38 Contracting States and presents an at-a-glance description of the different national revocation, nullity and infringement procedures currently in place. The competent courts dealing with these matters at first instance and appeal are also depicted.

Another European lawyer, Carlo Piana, says one should “[r]ead (pdf) http://ur1.ca/35e4f if you still think that #swpats [software patents] promote innovation.”

With news that WebSafety “today announced that it now supports two new Android tablets for the company’s patent-pending software application,” it has become rather clear that the United States chooses to put software patents even in Linux-powered platforms. This leads to incompatibilities of all sorts and JDA reports “records in Q4″, reached in part using “trial against Oracle over software patents”. From the news:

JDA ended the quarter and the year with $171.6 million in cash, which it is clearly going to need more of if this ruling in the Texas courts regarding Dillard’s sticks. JDA boosted its reserve for this judgment from $5 million to $19 million, reflecting what it now thinks the likely settlement to be based on preliminary mediation talks with the store chain. The trial against Oracle over software patents starts in March. JDA expects both cases to burn about $10 million in 2011.

Welcome to Texas, where patent trolls roam. In relation to the i4i case, Red Hat sent filings in support of abolishing such American patents and here comes another statement from the company:

Red Hat, Inc., a provider of open source solutions, continued its efforts to improve the U.S. patent system and to challenge poor quality software patents.

Red Hat joined a group of companies in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court which explained that the burden of proof applied to invalidate patents impedes innovation and should be changed.

Software patents threaten Red Hat’s business, which is mostly based in the United States where software patent foster a large community of patent trolls. Europe and New Zealand should avoid descending upon the same chasm.

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