Summary: Various updates about the patents situation across Europe
LAST year Apple decided that it could not compete fairly against HTC, which now sells more phones (running Android/Linux) than Apple in the United States. Apple dropped to third, trailing Samsung.
So Apple sued HTC and found favour in its home country, as expected. In Europe it has been a different story and Apple is failing to block Linux/Android-powered devices from Samsung. Even the regulators get involved right now, which ought to make Apple worry. But Europe has had some elements in it that are dangerous in the sense that they play ball for US-based multinationals. They also try to legalise software patents by harmonising US- and EU-based patent regulations. Anne-Cat Lorrain writes: “European Commission: “the creation of a EU patent court is on a good track”. Audience not so “optimistic”… #ictsp11″
The EU patent “package” moved a step closer to final approval on Tuesday, when the Legal Affairs Committee approved a mandate to open formal negotiations with national governments to agree to create unitary patent, so as to cut costs for firms and boost the EU’s competitiveness. Parliament will strive to adapt the proposed regime to small firms’ needs.
The European Parliament’s rapporteurs, who will negotiate with national governments, will treat the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) as a package, meaning none will be agreed without the others. According to the mandate, approved by the committee with 16 votes in favour and 3 against, the MEP negotiators will also ask that the three laws enter into force at the same time.
The aim of creating an EU patent is twofold. First to reduce current patenting costs by up to 80%, so as to improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper. Second, it should help to avoid the legal confusion created when dealing with differing national patent laws.
Lehne is named by Glyn Moody, who writes:
MT @zoobab @VisaePatentes OUTRAGEOUS: #JURI mandates #Lehne to negotiate #unitarypatent with Commission/Council behind closed doors>>shame
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk sent a letter to the presidents of the EU institutions, on 18 November, pressing for an agreement on adoption of the harmonised European patent system. “This is one of the most important projects for the common market, to which the latest Council Presidencies have devoted considerable work and attention,” said Tusk. “In a context of increasing competition at global level, we cannot afford to keep the current system, which is one of the world’s costliest and which limits both innovation and the competitiveness of our enterprises.”
We wrote about this stance of the Polish Presidency in [1, 2, 3]. The president of the FFII (Zoobab) argues that the “European Parliament JURI committee [is] against ban of software patents, so pushing for them via central caselaw, was to be expected”
He also points out that the “EU patent draft introduces joint Member States liability for any failure of the patent court to apply EU law”
Patent lawyers from London wrote about this as follows:
Anyone who has encountered the AmeriKat in the past two weeks will have been subjected to a “what are you doing to help get the Unified Patent Court to London” style of questioning. During and outside of her workday she is still doing a fair amount of London cheerleading, so much so that she has failed to pick up the recent House of Commons Select Committee on European Scrutiny’s report on “Enforcement of Patent Rights”. In May of this year the IPKat reported on the Scrutiny Committee’s scrutiny of the unified patent system and Baroness Wilcox. More recently, on 9 November 2011, the European Scrutiny Committee considered a recent, but not the latest, Draft Agreement on a Unified Patent Court and draft Statute. The European Scrutiny Committee does what it says on the tin/can – they scrutinize draft EU legislation on behalf of the House of Commons and determine which proposals are of political or legal importance. Good news – the UPC ticks both boxes! The Committee flags up these proposals to the House through their weekly Committee Reports and by recommending that some draft legislation be debated – either by the European Committees or by the House of Commons. For a list of members of the Scrutiny Committee click here.
Surely the problems remain very real in Europe, especially due to patent lawyers and politicians who sometimes work for patent firms on the side. As Zoobab once put it, Lehne works for "Taylor Wessing, active in EU lobbying and pushing for software patents.” █