04.16.10

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Patents Roundup: New Zealand’s Largest Application Vendor Rejects Software Patents; EU Patent System Overrides European Court of Justice; “Gene Cartels” Slammed by Former Insider

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DNA sequence

Summary: Orion Health says “no” to software patents; Europe tries a trick; cartels on human life under attack by a patent lawyer who used to participate in them

New Zealand

WE have just created this new page about software patents in New Zealand. So far we have seen that Microsoft, its lobbyists, and primarily patent lawyers are the only proponents of software patents in this country. It continues to seem that way now that New Zealand’s largest application vendor (self-acclaimed status) says that “things are getting patented. You might see a logical enhancement to your software, but you can’t do it because someone else has a patent. It gets in the way of innovation.” Here is the opening of the article in full:

Orion Health backs moves to block patents

Negatives outweigh positives, says one of New Zealand’s biggest software developers

Ian McCrae, CEO of Orion Health, which claims to be New Zealand’s largest application vendor, supports a Commerce Select Committee proposal to rule out software patents in New Zealand.

Europe

Regarding software patents in Europe, there is also some news. The president of the FFII attended events and put recordings of the CEIPI conference in some webspace of his. “There are bits on software patents,” he stressed, but they require transcribing. He has also just published six reasons to oppose the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS), beginning with:

The United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) is an international treaty which aims to create an international patent court in Europe. Here are 6 reasons to oppose the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS).

1. Democracy: this treaty creates a court system that won’t be balanced by elected legislators, turning the European Parliament or National Parliaments legislators of second zone. The legislator won’t be elected, and won’t be able to counter decisions of such court. The UPLS creates an international patent court outside of the European Union legal system, to which the European Union would have to adhere. Furthermore, the European Parliament does not have the power to initiate new laws if it wants to counter decisions of such a court.
2. Fundamental rights: No appeal to a constitutional court will be possible, in case patent law conflicts w ith other laws, such as fundamental rights. The European Union does not have at the moment a Constitution to which European citizens and companies could appeal. An international patent court such as the one created by the UPLS won’t allow appeal to upper constitutional courts, nor national constitutional courts. The recent interventions of the US Supreme Court against decisions of specialized patent courts (CAFC), notably to confront patent law with other pieces of law, shows that fundamental rights should have a place in the judicial system, and that patent law does not operate in a vacuum.

[...]

The United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) is a back door which would potentially permit patenting of algorithms. “EU Patent system taken away from European Court of Justice,” warns this new press release from the FFII (appended below in full).

Business Europe fiercely opposes a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in patent law. During a conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Thierry Sueur of Business Europe disclosed the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) was aimed to keep the ECJ away from interpreting substantive patent law under the European Patent Convention (EPC), particularly for software patentability.

Genetics

Software patents are not the only problem with the patent system. Last week we wrote about gene patents [1, 2] and now we learn about a book on “Gene Cartels”. To quote part of a new book review:

It is a shame that there are so few existing copies of Luigi Palombi’s Gene Cartels. The initial press run for this remarkable book was apparently less than 1000, yet this is a book that every policy maker even remotely connected to issues of patents, economics, and biotech should read.

Palombi’s background is in law. He worked for years as a patent lawyer, writing and arguing for biotech patents. Over time, he grew disenchanted with the scope and reach of patents being granted on biotechnology “innovations”, especially as more and more patents began to be granted further “upstream”, over things that were not inventions, but rather discoveries. He is now a researcher with the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University. He devotes his research and activism to eliminating “gene patents” and his magnum opus on the legal case against gene patents works methodically through not just recent law on the subject but the history of patent law itself.

So even patent lawyers can realise that they are leeches that mostly harm the system which they purport to be defending.


EU Patent system taken away from European Court of Justice

Business Europe fiercely opposes a role for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in patent law. During a conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Thierry Sueur of Business Europe disclosed the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) was aimed to keep the ECJ away from interpreting substantive patent law under the European Patent Convention (EPC), particularly for software patentability.

“Instead of explicitly seeking to sanction the patentability of software, they are now seeking to create a central European patent court, which would establish and enforce patentability rules in their favor, without any possibility of correction by competing courts or democratically elected legislators.”
      –Hartmut Pilch
Hartmut Pilch analysed in 2007: “In July 2005, after several failed attempts to legalise software patents in Europe, the patent establishment changed its strategy. Instead of explicitly seeking to sanction the patentability of software, they are now seeking to create a central European patent court, which would establish and enforce patentability rules in their favor, without any possibility of correction by competing courts or democratically elected legislators.”

Benjamin Henrion, President of the FFII, comprehends their concerns: “While the US Supreme Court can review decisions of the Texas patent courts, this recourse would not be available to Europeans. A newly created UPLS patent court would have the final say over software patentability.”

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