EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.10.12

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Glyn Moody, April, FSFE and Many Others Oppose Unitary Patent (Vote is Today)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law laundering

European flags

Summary: The Unitary Patent gets endorsed by the European Council, but many European developers and even European politicians are starting to actively oppose the Unitary Patent

TODAY the EU could make a disaster or a victory for software developers. A lot of European software enthusiasts talk about it, including Birgitta Jónsdóttir, an Iceland-based member of parliament that’s associated with Wikileaks fame. We wrote about the subject on Monday and many times before that, noting that Poland is trying to put up a fight.

The patent lawyers in London talk about Poland’s resistance (via Glyn Moody) and now is the time to phone politicians and let them know that they should bury the unitary disaster of Michel Barnier. Dr. Moody writes:

I’ve been writing about the attempt to craft a Unitary Patent in Europe for some years. The idea in itself is not bad: a patent that is valid across all of Europe. That would simplify filings and save costs, both of which are to be welcomed. But the devil is in the details, and it looks like those details are increasingly devilish.

There are two main issues for this column. The first is that the Unitary Patent could make it easier to obtain software patents in Europe. That’s because German courts are already much friendlier to the idea, and if they approve such patents, they would then be valid even in software patent sceptical countries.

The second is related to the first, and concerns which court would ultimately rule on the validity of Unitary Patents. The two options are the EU’s own European Court of Justice, or else an independent court populated by patent lawyers. The latter would not be an EU institution, and therefore would not need to take cognisance of things like the European Parliament’s rejection of software patents a few years back. It could and almost certainly would do whatever it liked in this sphere, which would lead to a massive expansion in Europe of patents that concern software.

There are lots of deep issues about the overall legality of the Unitary Patent, but here I’d like to concentrate on the more pragmatic issues, which are probably easier to discuss with MEPs who are not necessarily lawyers, and don’t really have time to get into the minutiae of this stuff.

The FSFE, with which Moody often collaborates in public panels, issued the following press release:

The European Parliament is about to vote on a “unitary patent” for Europe in its plenary session on December 11. The proposal currently on the table is widely known to have serious legal and practical problems. In the light of these problems, Free Software Foundation Europe urges the Parliament’s members to delay the vote until a better solution can be worked out.

Under the current proposal, the Parliament would agree to give up its power to shape Europe’s innovation policy. This is a dangerous proposition. Knowledge and innovation are crucial to our future, and we cannot simply delegate their management to a technocratic body such as the European Patent Organisation. Europe’s political institutions have to have the final say over innovation policy. This is a responsibility which MEPs cannot shirk.

“MEPs must not saddle Europe’s innovators with a rotten compromise. Innovation is a key part of our common future, and it is too important to be gambled away in a hasty decision,” says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE’s President.

The political process that has led up to the current proposal has suffered from a marked lack of transparency. The European Parliament still has not published the text of the inter-instutional agreement which it reached with the Council on November 19.

“We are deeply alarmed that such a crucial text may be ramrodded through Parliament before MEPs and the interested public have had a chance to properly consider the text,” says Gerloff.

The most important practical problems with the current package:

* Instead of providing uniformity and transparency for market participants, the current proposal will create divergence and confusion. It will be hard for anyone to obtain clarity on how a patent may be used, or where its powers end.
* Lack of limitations and exceptions puts Europeans’freedom to innovate at risk. There is no provision for compulsory licenses, posing a grave danger to public welfare. The lack of a research exception puts a millstone of risk around the neck of Europe’s scientists.
* – Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of Europe’s economy. If this wrong-headed compromise is accepted, they will bear the brunt of the resulting problems. This is not something that Europe can afford, much less in the midst of an economic crisis.

The most important legal problems with the current package:

* The compromise would lead to a fragmentation of the internal market, as patents would not be uniformly enforceable across all EU member states. Additionally, there would be four overlapping levels of patents existing side by side. This will inevitably create substantial confusion and business risks for innovators and companies.
* A proliferation of courts that may handle patent litigation will inevitably lead to a fragmentation of jurisprudence. This will even further confuse anyone who comes into contact with the patent system, increase the costs of litigation, and make patent risks even harder to calculate for businesses.
* The envisioned Unified Patent Court is incompatible with European law. Europe’s policy makers have failed to address the problems highlighted by the European Court of Justice in its Opinion 1/09 (March 2011). Even the Parliament’s own Legal Services department has doubts about the package’s legality.

A package which leaves such significant problems unaddressed is not fit to be adopted by responsible lawmakers. Policy makers are keen to put this hotly contested issue behind them. But this desire must not lead them to rush into an ill-considered compromise with numerous known problems, in the face of widespread opposition from the patent system’s stakeholders.

FSFE joins large parts of the innovation community, and in particular the Max-Planck-Institute in urging the Parliament to reconsider the unitary patent package. Until a better solution can be achieved, MEPs should heed the age-old principle: First, do no harm.

The Unitary Patent should be axed for good tomorrow. Contact politicians to have them say “no”. Saying no to the Unitary Patent is saying no to monopoly extravaganza.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 28/5/2015: SourceForge Hijack, RIP Marco Pesenti Gritti

    Links for the day



  2. Censorship on Reddit Has Gotten (Condé) Nasty and Silent, Even Actively Silenced

    Condé Nast has turned Reddit into a platform of censorship after the acquisition



  3. The Supreme Court of the United States Helps Patent Trolls

    In an unforeseen kind of ruling, the same court which slapped down a lot of software patents last year is now legitimising the actions of a patent troll



  4. Patent Lawyers Fight Hard for the Future of Software Patents

    Media that is dominated by patent lawyers and targets an audience of patent lawyers refuses to accept the post-Alice reality



  5. Fortune Glorifies Patent Troll Jay Walker (Patent Utility)

    Jay Walker, a patent troll, creates a Web-based trolling/'licensing' service and the corporate media helps him



  6. Stealing Android's Thunder, Making It All About Apple and Microsoft During Google I/O

    Misleading articles and conjoined media/analyst attacks on Android coincide with Google's event where major Android announcements are being made



  7. British Government May be a Step Closer to GNU/Linux (on the Desktops, Not Just Servers)

    The British government stops paying the criminal company that blackmails its members, thereby increasing the possibility of complete escape from proprietary software



  8. Microsoft's Patent Allies LG and Sony Agree to Put Microsoft Inside Android

    LG and Sony (of Rockstar Consortium) follow Samsung and Dell in Microsoft's campaign to turn Android into 'Microsoft Android' using patents-induced pressure/leverage



  9. Yet Another Major Security Deficiency in UEFI

    UEFI is inherently insecure, more so than the alternatives which it strives to replace, including Free/libre ones



  10. Links 27/5/2015: Fedora 22 is Out, Mandriva Liquidated

    Links for the day



  11. Patent Scope at the EPO is Totally Out of Control, UPC Will Make Things Worse

    A look at the practical issues with the EPO, where patent scope and litigation scope have been vastly extended so as to benefit multinational corporations and possibly patent trolls



  12. Links 26/5/2015: Reviews of Kubuntu 15.04, Linux 4.1 RC5

    Links for the day



  13. Süddeutsche Zeitung Says Talking Helps While EPO Management Back-stabs Other Side of the Table

    German media gives the impression that there is peace and harmony now that Benoît Battistelli and his circle of power speaks to staff, but nothing is said about simultaneous (albeit covert) attacks against that staff



  14. Large Corporations Call the Shots in US Patent Reform

    A reminder of where we stand on the issue of patent 'reform' in the US and who is controlling or shaping it



  15. Microsoft Puts Proprietary Windows and Hyper-V Inside the Free Software-Centric OpenStack

    OpenStack, which celebrates rapid growth in this month's event in Canada, is facing a proprietarisation threat from Microsoft



  16. Microsoft's Secret Lobbying, Bullying, and the Long History of Blackmailing Politicians Around the World

    British media covers Microsoft's abuse in the UK, but there are many similar incidents, and not just in the UK



  17. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Benoît Battistelli and Four EPO Suicides

    German press article from April 2015 (with translations)



  18. Links 24/5/2015: CrossOver 14.1.3, NTFS-3G Vulnerability

    Links for the day



  19. Links 23/5/2015: Fedora 22 to May 26th, Netflix in SteamOS

    Links for the day



  20. The Patents Production 'Industry' (Patent Lawyers) Still Fights Hard to Salvage Software Patents

    A review of recent writings about software patents and patents on business methods in the United States, demonstrating that patent lawyers have gotten very vocal and sneaky (trying to evade the rules)



  21. Patents as a Marketing Strategy: USPTO Now Part of the Advertising Industry

    The existence of publicity patents, or patents whose sole purpose is to advertise some products, serves to discredit the US patent office, which was originally set up to promote science and technology



  22. Microsoft Blackmails and Extorts British Politicians Over Open Standards and Free Software-Leaning Policies

    Microsoft's digital imperialism in the UK getting defended using blackmail, reminding a lot of Brits that Microsoft is just as evil as ever before



  23. Microsoft Gives Another Bug a Name, This Time Logjam™

    The Microsoft crowd is good only at marketing, even when it comes to small bugs in software



  24. Links 22/5/2015: Fedora 22 Final Release is Near, Canonical IPO Considered

    Links for the day



  25. More Utter Shame Unveiled at Battistelli's EPO: Intimidation Tactics With Help From 'Control Risks'

    The unaccountable thugs who run the EPO have hired London-based spooks to help silence their opposition and their critics



  26. GNU/Linux Still Under Attack From Apple and Microsoft, Patents Remain the Weapon of Choice

    A timely reminder of the importance of patent matters, for they are being used to eliminate the zero-cost advantage of Free/libre software and make it more proprietary, privacy-infringing, and user-hostile (as a result of blackmail)



  27. Gartner Group and NASSCOM: Will Lie for FUD, on Behalf of Microsoft and Proprietary Software

    Some of the latest arguments against Free/libre software turn out to be arriving from couriers of Microsoft and its agenda



  28. Windows is a Franchise in Demise, Don't Believe the Hype

    Ongoing propaganda about Vista 10, 'cloud', and other buzzwords or brands are put in perspective



  29. Links 21/5/2015: Fedora 22 RC2, CERN Chooses OpenStack

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft is Again Showing Its Hatred of Free/Open Source Software by Lobbying the Indian Government to Drop a Rational National Policy

    Microsoft decides to attack Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in India, where the corporate media is very much complicit in misleading the public


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts