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06.04.16

Software Patents in Europe and the UPC Already a Problem

Posted in Europe, Patents, RAND at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whose public service is this and why are European politicians allowing software patents?

A transit bus

Summary: More patent trolling in Europe (using software patents, as usual) and another disappointing move from the European Commission which serves to reinforce software patents deep inside public services, in effect overriding Europe’s policy on patent scope due to lobbying from proprietary software giants from abroad

“Trolls at the gates,” Francisco warned the other day. “Unitary patent is coming.” Francisco happens to have warned about the EPO and UPC for quite some time now and he is not alone (we gave examples of that). The President of the FFII, Benjamin, has just said “this is what is waiting us if nobody moves their ass on the Unitary Patent.”

“As we have noted here for a number of years, Germany is undoubtedly the worst in Europe when it comes to software patenting and this latest bit of news seems to reinforce this trend.”This was said in response to Jan Wildeboer, who works for Red Hat in Germany (Europe’s capital of software patenting) after years of activism against software patents (he is spending a lot less time fighting for this cause nowadays). “Patent troll forces Flickr to deactivate mobile upload in Germany,” Wildeboer warned. As we have noted here for a number of years, Germany is undoubtedly the worst in Europe when it comes to software patenting and this latest bit of news seems to reinforce this trend. I can’t help but wonder if upload tools in my own self-hosted albums are infringing too. Recently in the United States some very small and weak entities, such as family businesses, got sued/blackmailed by a patent troll over photo albums they had online. We wrote some articles about it earlier this year.

As Benjamin put it, “as long as those Patent Courts stays in Germany, I am fine. Problem is with the Unitary Patent.” Well, some of these patent trolls have begun coming to the UK. They use software patents, too. To quote the page from Flickr, “patent litigation is a tremendous drain on the global economy, and Yahoo has been a vocal proponent for years in the United States to restore balance to patent litigation by encouraging innovation and discouraging abuse.

“Patent troll forces Flickr to deactivate mobile upload in Germany…”
      –Jan Wildeboer
“Unfortunately, as of today, our Flickr users in Germany are the victims of abuse in the patent litigation system. In recent months, Yahoo and several other major US tech companies were sued in Germany by TLI Comms, a company that does not practice the patent at issue, but rather asserts it against others for financial gain — sometimes referred to as a “patent troll.” TLI Comms has accused Yahoo of infringing its European patent (EP 0814611 B1) by providing users the ability to upload photos and videos to our servers via the Flickr mobile web page or the Flickr mobile apps. TLI has asserted similar claims against a number of other major US tech companies. As of today, a German court has enjoined Yahoo from providing the upload feature of the Flickr mobile web page and mobile apps to our users in Germany.”

How long before other European nations suffer the same ‘castration’ of features? It might only be a matter of time. Bear the UPC in mind.

“European Commission kills FLOSS with FRAND patents,” Benjamin warned in a separate note after Glyn Moody, who had written articles on this subject earlier this year (we covered these), alerted followers to the fact that the “EU Commission confirms that it is abandoning open source to market forces – http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1963_en.htm

Benjamin thought “market forces” are better off called “dark forces” and another opposer of software patents said “the EU are creating these standards & they cannot be used in Free Software?”

Dr. Moody responded with “very; but they care more about big business that likes FRAND” (a topic often covered here for nearly a decade).

As Benjamin noted, “patents means free software becomes proprietary. That’s what the GPL said in 1991 already.”

“EU Commission confirms that it is abandoning open source to market forces…”
      –Glyn Moody
If there is no freedom to redistribute the program, then it’s not Free software anymore. “The reference implementations can be whatever,” Benjamin noted, but “patent holders can still tax any other implementation of the standard.”

As I noted in response to the above (twice even) the EU/European Commission is a Microsoft shop that failed to move away from Microsoft and even failed to investigate Microsoft’s OOXML abuses as it had promised to do so (giving a false sense of hope to antagonists). Whose EU Commission is this and why are we still implicitly endorsing software patents, in spite of the EPC and the 2005 directive?

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