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. New Optimism in the Age of Doubt Over Software Patents

    As the tide turns against software patents, even in their country of origin, their opponents come out of the woodwork to celebrate



  2. Links 28/7/2014: New Linux RC, Plasma 5 Live in Kubuntu

    Links for the day



  3. Links 27/7/2014: KDE 4.14 Beta 3, KDE 4.14 Beta 3 Released

    Links for the day



  4. Apple and Microsoft Are Proprietary Software Companies and the Media Should Stop Openwashing Them

    New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest 'journalists'



  5. Bloomberg's Microsoft Propaganda

    Bloomberg delivers 'damage control' and PR ahead of the layoffs announcement; Microsoft uses Nokia to hide it and Bloomberg helps Microsoft by radically modifying headlines



  6. Frequency of Browser Back Doors in Microsoft Windows is Doubling

    The vulnerabilities which Microsoft tells the NSA about (before these are patched) are significantly growing in terms of their numbers



  7. FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

    Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing



  8. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?





  9. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  10. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  11. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  12. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  13. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  14. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  15. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  16. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  17. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  18. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  19. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  20. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  21. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  22. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  23. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  24. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  25. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  26. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  27. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  28. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at Microsoft



  29. Secrecy Allows British Government to be Manipulated by Microsoft for Spyware Behind Closed Doors

    Dependence on malicious software from NSA ally Microsoft is highly dependent, at least in Britain, on government secrecy and vain refusal to comply with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests



  30. Software Patent Applications Already Being Rejected in the US Owing to SCOTUS Ruling, Some Patent Lawyers Are Fuming

    Good news on the software patents front as the USPTO starts rejecting software patent applications, based on patent lawyers' words


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