03.11.17

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Why Techrights is Nowadays Focused on the EPO and UPC (Unitary Patent)

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman

Summary: Answering a commonly- and frequently-asked question, going along the lines of, “why is Techrights so eager to help EPO employees?” or “why is it so passionately against the UPC?”

A LOT can be said about the variety of topics we have dealt with over the years. There is an extensive record on the Web about it (nosy people can check our track record). I myself am a reasonably modest software developer, a proponent of Free/libre software, and various aspects that accompany that, e.g. privacy and autonomy. In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders. We mix and match a lot of code and ensure that things rapidly improve, for collective benefit to society. I work a lot for the public sector in the UK, for example the NHS, the Ombudsman, and London’s Town Hall (GLA). I’d like to think of myself as one who works for society at large, not pursuing money but instead public services and ethics. I don’t think people out there can dispute that, as I never developed proprietary software and virtually everything that I use is Free/libre software. My wife and I contribute the little that we have to charities and we don’t make any money from our sites; we actually lose money, but it’s an idealogical endeavor. We generally promote greater collaboration among people, especially in the software sense.

“In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders.”Right now we feel encouraged by the fact that the US is gradually burying software patents. It’s a much-welcomed (by developers) milestone. A decade ago it seemed unthinkable that the USPTO and US courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) would demolish software patents. But as we shall show later in the weekend, that is just what is happening, still. At the same time, much to our regret, the EPO does the opposite and EPO management is lobbying very hard to expand both patent scope and the sovereignty of EPs (in the enforcement sense) to the whole of the EU. This would, if the UPC ever became a reality, mean that software patents too (these are constantly being granted these days, EPO insiders tell us) become applicable EU-wide.

A decade ago in the UK — up to around 2008 to be precise — Nokia or Symbian (before it was Nokia’s) fought for software patents in the UK (famous UK-IPO case which we covered many times before). The UPC would essentially mean British software patents from the back doors, putting at risk a lot of British software companies (there are plenty and they are small and typically vulnerable).

“The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.”The other day we posted here a press release that we had co-authored with FFII (see FFII’s mirror and the original). We wish to warn about what UPC in the UK would entail — a subject we shall explore in greater depth later this weekend.

I was never trained or educated to understand patents (and software patents) but to code. I was never interested in patents, but I had to study these through extensive reading, over the past decade or more, out of necessity. A lot of software developers openly berate software patents (they just want copyright on their code), but are not so passionate or active about it until some patent troll hits them (sometimes they lose their job as a result).

There have been some malicious rumours about the motivations of Techrights, so let it be clarified that the site is not against patents. It never was. The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.

“What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests.”The outline for weekend’s posts is based on our perceived urgency/priorities. We shall start by dealing with EPO abuses, then publish many articles on UPC ‘progress’ (lack thereof), then some unpleasant (to Battistelli et al) surprises, which we unfortunately have not had enough time to cover. We have literally dozens if not over a hundred of posts in the making, either as drafts or concepts (which we never got around to turning into drafts).

What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests. We are not trying to undermine anything but a self-serving element which is against democracy, against justice, and against patent sanity (typically patent maximalism for personal gain).

We are not the bad guys. We are only the “bad guys” to bad people.

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