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07.10.12

Call for Action Against Software Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Modern architecture in the EU

Summary: A quick update about the unitary patent and a pointer to feedback pigeon holes

THE European Union has been under a threat of software patents in recent months and we intend to cover what we missed at the time. The latest news is that the Parliament “avoids disaster” because “[o]n Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th July 2012, the European parliament was due to debate and vote on the unitary patent. However, MEPs rebelled against the European Council’s desire to substantially change the text at the last minute: they were being asked, in essence, to be a simple rubber-stamping assembly. On Monday, 2nd July 2012, they unanimously postponed the vote and sent the text back for reconsideration by the committees.”

Glyn Moody calls for help in stopping this loophole that can enable software patenting in Europe. He analyses the text and notes that “[d]ropping those [aforementioned] clauses would mean removing patent matters from the European Court of Justice. That is important, because a court outside the jurisdiction of the EU would be free to broaden the range of patentability – including software patents, for example. The ECJ, by contrast, has shown itself inclined to defend European citizens from disproportionate action by companies (from example by forbidding ISPs from being forced to spy on their customers at the behest of media companies), and is more likely to police the ban on software patents in Europe more strictly.”

Moody provides advice and communication routes to those who are eager to take action by informing their representatives. They are:


arlene.mccarthy@europarl.europa.eu
gerard.batten@europarl.europa.eu
sharon.bowles@europarl.europa.eu
mary.honeyball@europarl.europa.eu
sajjad.karim@europarl.europa.eu
rebecca.taylor@europarl.europa.eu

The unitary patent protest site writes more on this subject, which we are going to revisit this month by going backwards in time, collecting key news that led to this present fiasco.

The situation is mildly reminiscent or related to the lobby for RAND in European standards, which constitutes another loophole for those who try to legitimise software patents in Europe, notably Microsoft. The public needed to speak out to enlighten politicians. One Debian/SkoleLinux developer noted that “[h]ere in Norway, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs is behind a directory of standards that are recommended or mandatory for use by the government. When the directory was created, the people behind it made an effort to ensure that everyone would be able to implement the standards and compete on equal terms to supply software and solutions to the government. Free software and non-free software could compete on the same level.” This goes on to discussing RAND.

The president of the FFII notes that “Nokia’s head of litigation Richard Vary” is getting involved in the unitary patent debate. To quote some British patent lawyers: “That unified patent court: the case against bifurcation. If you have been thinking that everything has gone quiet and that no-one cares about the proposed unified patent litigation system and the bifurcation of dispute resolution — hearing infringement issues in one court and validity in another — think again. Here’s a paper by Nokia’s head of litigation Richard Vary which seeks to demonstrate that bifurcation is not just bad for the Brits, it’s bad for all European industry. This paper, delivered last week to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, can be read here.” Nokia is a subject we’ll deal with in a separate post this week. Microsoft is now shaking up KDE through Qt’s ties to Nokia. Very vicious. In several other ways Microsoft has used Nokia to cause harm to Linux. When it comes to software patents in Europe, Nokia has been among the worst.

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