Summary: The dark side of the European patent system as revealed and explained in some recent posts
While the “FFII Challenges Software Patents in Europe,” as we put it quite recently, not enough is being done to effectively stop the agenda of multinationals that want software patents everywhere. The FFII and its members have been quiet recently, so the lobbyists can advance with little or no interference.
For software patents in the EU to be rapidly phased in (e.g. through trans-Atlantic unification), the unitary patent is being advanced. The EPO President wrote the other day that the first committee meeting was imminent:
After the adoption of the EU regulations on the unitary patent in December 2012 and the recent signing of the international agreement on the Unified Patent Court, a further milestone was reached last week with the convening of the so-called Select Committee. Representatives of the 25 member states participating in the unitary patent met with the EPO in Munich for the first time, and the European Commission as observer, to launch the Committee’s work.
That this first meeting could take place so soon after the signing of the agreement on the Court is in my view a clear sign of the political will of the participating countries to implement the unitary patent as soon as possible. The results were very positive. The Committee elected two highly qualified and committed participants in the unitary patent process – Jerôme Debrulle, head of the Belgian delegation, and Lubos Knoth, head of the Slovak delegation – to serve as its chair and vice-chair. It also initiated the discussion of its rules of procedure and launched an ambitious plan for its further work in the coming months.
Glyn Moody, a Brit, hopes that Spain can stop this. Last week he asked, “Has Spain Just Slammed On The Brakes For Europe’s Unitary Patent Plans?”
One thing is for sure: if the brakes have indeed been slammed on for the Unitary Patent project, they are unlikely to come off for a good while unless something dramatic happens.
Spain was previously blackmailed for support. In the mean time, reveals TechDirt, EPO is pushing for patent maximalism with financial incentives. Big mistake!
European Patent Office Gives Staff Bonus For Issuing Bumper Crop Of Patents: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
This gives it an independence from the European Union that is problematic for patent law there. For example, back in 2005, the European Parliament voted definitively not to allow software patents in Europe. And yet as an excellent analysis published on the IPKat site explains, the EPO has continued to move steadily towards granting more and broader software patents in Europe.
Also from TechDirt, here is a recent rebuttal to the idea that by granting more parents you improve innovation. It is utter nonsense of course.
This is unfortunate. Despite plenty of research showing that patents do not, in fact, lead to increased innovation (but rather increased patenting), many still assume that there’s a direct linkage. Of course, it is true that many successful industries see high rates of patents, but there is evidence that patents tend to lag the actual innovation, rather than predate it. That is, once an area or industry is innovative and successful then everyone rushes in to get patents and try to extract their piece of the pie, often slowing down the pace of innovation.
More developers across Europe need to protest against the EPO for choosing to pretend that merely granting a patent somehow improves innovation and brings economic benefits to Europe. █
“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.
“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”