03.30.11

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The FFII Reports Bad Faith at the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 11:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The office of bureaucrats and businessmen, not science and technology

Golf ball in the fairway

Summary: The EPO is evolving into an independent monster lacking regulation and disconnected from seminal commitment to public interest

Patent offices are a funny sort of ‘organism’. They treat patents like business and the more patents (monopolies) they approve, the more money they can make. These organisations begin to justify their own existence by accentuating and emphasising their supposedly important role even when it harms the public. The USPTO offers plenty of examples of that and people sometimes die because of them (notable examples relate to drug treatment). The EPO has a blog now (who hasn’t?) and it goes on in MBA-speak about “Improving the patent system” (which means improving it for the EPO, not for the public). “EPO to go lobby physically MEPs and EU Ministers to become the institution outside the control of Parliament” is how the president of the FFII interprets this post and David Hammerstein, a former European member of parliament, writes:

Preparation for new EU framework for research and innovation in 2013. European Patent system. New financing mechanism. Remove bottlenecks

“Europe needs a new software patent directive, software patents through the backdoor,” adds the president of the FFI, who is linking to this article in French for support of his claim. The FFII’s Web site has meanwhile published a warning about the attempt to use liability burden as part of those legal instruments we see Microsoft pushing for because this marginalises Free/libre software. Our previous post was also about that blunder. To quote the press release from the FFII’s Web site:

The European Parliament wants to make software producers liable for defects. Ahead of the vote on the Consumer Rights Directive on Thursday 24 March, a political agreement amongst the groups in the European Parliament would put software and webservices providers liable for damages under the goal of providing consumer protection.

“During the software patent debate we underlined that Data processing is no field of technology”, explains FFII president Benjamin Henrion. “The physical world is different from the digital environment”. He continues: “Similar to the software patent directive, it is another piece of legislation that makes software development a much more risky business”.

Both Microsoft and Free software (their representatives at least) lobbied against that. But who is bound to suffer just financial toll and who is bound to be blown out of the market if this thing gets approved? Yes, it would be beneficial to Microsoft.

Over in Jamaica there is this report about so-called “anti-piracy software” (a concept which does not exist in the free software world) getting a software patent burden attached to it. How quaint:

Kariblink Digital, a local based web firm aims to patent software it has already developed to ‘Whiplash’ piracy by instantly shutting down illegal online rebroadcasters.

The firm currently awaits a response from the international copyright body having already paid the requisite fees.

About those “requisite fees”, guess who gets the money? The patent systems as they exist today are a disgrace because they are not obliged to actually serve the public, just themselves. The EPO takes that same sad road to irrelevance (in the public eye).

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

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