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06.13.11

France and the United Kingdom Want to Drown in Software Patents Sea of Risk

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

La bataille de Waterloo
La bataille de Waterloo

Summary: France and the UK are giving in to American agenda of software monopolies; the FFII and Techrights counter that

SOMETHING rogue is going on in France and this time it’s not Barnier, whose lobbying for a software patents loophole we wrote in many older posts over the past year. “France to launch a national patent troll,” claims the president of the FFII (who is Belgian and fluent in French). While his claim links to 3 pages in French, his Slashdot description summarises everything as follows:

[zoobab:] “France is creating a state sponsored patent fund, FranceBrevets, which primary focus will be to sponsor, acquire and license patents in the ICT (read software patents) sector. The patent fund is at the initiative of the minister of Research, Valérie Pécresse, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and digital economy, Eric Besson. The primary target of the fund is to collect licenses on those patents, which is already seen in France as the biggest patent troll of the country. France is also supporting the European Unitary Patent, which is seen by many at the final attempt to validate software patents in Europe.”

“FranceBrevets and the European Unitary Patent: a good opportunity for patent trolls, jackpot damages for the whole EU,” he notes separately, further explaining that “France is creating a fund to heavily invest in software patents (priority is Information and Communication Technology)”; quite mystifying, no? It leads to more ambiguity and uncertainty for European developers. Symbian (Nokia) validated a software patent in the UK some years ago and Germany made things worse with a ruling on Microsoft's FAT. As one person noted, regarding the decision of Wilcox [1, 2, 3, 4], the Peer To Patent “UK pilot program will start as the US did, however; it will focus solely on computer-related technologies.” Citing Techrights it says:

Not everyone is so thrilled by this focus, particularly the many opposed to software patents in principle. At least one group argues that we ought not to “legitimize” software patents with programs such as Peer to Patent, “to [which] the issue is the quality of patents, not software patents in general.” This debate may prove especially problematic in adapting the original US model to European states, like the UK. Article 52 of the European Patent Convention (EPC) excludes “programs for computers” as patentable subject matter. UK law on the subject is confusing, to say the least; recent jurisprudence seems to have established that computer programs making a “technical contribution” are patentable – though exactly what this entails is unclear.

What is going on in Europe? It seems to be under the same American attack (brought by monopolists with government help) that New Zealand is under. As one person, noted in response at Twitter: “You know our multi-National-friendly govt will do what they ask. #FriesWithThat ?”

Keep clean

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