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 20/5/2019: Linux 5.2 RC1, LibreOffice 6.3 Alpha, DXVK 1.2.1, Bison 3.4 Released

    Links for the day



  2. South Korea's Government Will Show If Microsoft Loves Linux or Just Attacks It Very Viciously Like It Did in Munich

    Microsoft's hatred of all things GNU/Linux is always put to the test when someone 'dares' use it outside Microsoft's control and cash cows (e.g. Azure and Vista 10/WSL); will Microsoft combat its longstanding urge to corrupt or oust officials with the courage to say "no" to Microsoft?



  3. Links 19/5/2019: KDE Applications 19.04.1 in FlatHub and GNU/Linux Adoption

    Links for the day



  4. The War on Patent Quality

    A look at the EPO's reluctance to admit errors and resistance to the EPC, which is its very founding document



  5. Watchtroll, Composed by Patent Trolls, Calls the American Patent System “Corrupt”

    Another very fine piece from Watchtroll comes from very fine patent trolls who cheer for Donald Trump as if he's the one who tackles corruption rather than spreading it



  6. Unified Patent Court Won't Happen Just Because the Litigation Microcosm Wants It

    Unified Patent Court (UPC) hopefuls are quote-mining and cherry-picking to manufacture the false impression that the UPC is just around the corner when in reality the UPC is pretty much dead (but not buried yet)



  7. Links 17/5/2019: South Korea's GNU/Linux Pivot, Linux 5.1.3

    Links for the day



  8. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 4: Happy Birthday to the Kötter Group?

    This year the Kötter Group commemorates the 85th anniversary of its existence. But is it really a cause for celebration or would a less self-congratulatory approach be more fitting? And does it create the risk that a routine tendering exercise at the EPO will turn into Operation Charlie Foxtrot?



  9. Links 16/5/2019: Cockpit 194, VMware Acquires Bitnami, Another Wine Announcement and Krita 4.2.0 Beta

    Links for the day



  10. The EPO's Key Function -- Like the UPC's Vision -- Has Virtually Collapsed

    The EPO no longer issues good patents and staff is extremely unhappy; but the Office tries to create an alternate (false) reality and issues intentionally misleading statements



  11. Stanford's NPE Litigation Database Makes a Nice Addition in the Fight Against Software Patent Trolls

    As the United States of America becomes less trolls- and software patents-friendly (often conflated with plaintiff (un)friendliness) it's important to have accurate data which documents the numbers and motivates better policy; The NPE (troll) Litigation Database is a move towards that and it's free to access/use



  12. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 3: “Ein kritikwürdiges Unternehmen”

    A brief account of some further controversies in which the Kötter Group has been involved and its strained relations with German trade unions such as Verdi



  13. EPO Had a Leakage Problem and Privacy of Stakeholders Was Compromised, Affecting at Least 100 Cases

    The confidentiality principle was compromised at the EPO and stakeholders weren't told about it (there was a coverup)



  14. Links 15/5/2019: More Linux Patches and More Known Intel Bugs

    Links for the day



  15. False Hope for Patent Maximalists and Litigation Zealots

    Patent litigation predators in the United States, along with Team UPC in Europe, are trying to manufacture optimistic predictions; a quick and rather shallow critical analysis reveals their lies and distortions



  16. The Race to the Bottom of Patent Quality at the EPO

    The EPO has become more like a rubber-stamper than a patent office — a fact that worries senior staff who witnessed this gradual and troublesome transition (from quality to raw quantity)



  17. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 2: Meet the Kötters

    An introduction to the Kötter Group, the private security conglomerate which is lined up for the award of a juicy EUR 30 million contract for the provision of security services at the EPO



  18. Links 14/5/2019: Red Hat Satellite 6.5, NVIDIA 430.14 Linux Driver and New Security Bug (MDS)

    Links for the day



  19. Links 14/5/2019: GNU/Linux in Kerala, DXVK 1.2, KDE Frameworks 5.58.0 Released

    Links for the day



  20. Q2 Midterm Weather Forecast for EPOnia, Part 1: Urgent Shitstorm Alert

    Experts at the European Patent Office's (EPO) weather observation station have just issued an urgent alert warning about a major shitstorm looming on the horizon



  21. Patents That Were Gleefully Granted by the EPO Continue to Perish in Courts

    The decreasing quality of granted European Patents already becomes a growing problem if not a crisis of uncertainty



  22. Links 13/5/2019: ExTiX 19.5 and GNU Radio Conference 2019

    Links for the day



  23. The Microsoft Guide to the Open Source Galaxy

    Thou shalt not...



  24. Microsoft Would Kill the Goose for Money

    Microsoft is just 'monetising' Open Source by using it as 'bait' for Microsoft's proprietary software; those who we might expect to antagonise this have effectively been bribed by Microsoft



  25. Links 13/5/2019: Nanonote 1.2.0, OpenMandriva Lx 4.0 RC, and GNUnet 0.11.4

    Links for the day



  26. Professionally Incompetent EPO Management

    The EPO remains an awful employer, with top-level management largely responsible for the loss of talent and even money



  27. Links 12/5/2019: Linux 5.1.1, GDB 8.3, KStars 3.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  28. Did Battistelli 'Steal' ~$100,000,000 Euros From the EPO?

    While enjoying diplomatic immunity the thug from CEIPI (who is back at the EPO as a jurist) passed millions if not billions (over the long run) in liabilities; this was done with total and inexcusable impunity, no effective oversight



  29. The Biased EPO Does Not Want to Hear From Anyone Except Those Who Pay the EPO

    The EPO's corruption and violations of the law are a threat to everyone in the world; the EPO only ever listens to those who pay for "access" or those who embrace the "religion" of the EPO



  30. Team UPC Has Run Out of Arguments, So Now It's Just Writing Anti-Brexit Rants With Testicles in the Headlines

    Nothing has worked for firms that crafted and lobbied hard for the Unified Patent Court (UPC); after necrophilia a new low is being reached


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

Recent Posts