05.20.11

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Europe’s Peanut Gallery Wants Software Patents

Posted in Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 10:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vincent Van Quickenborne

Summary: A fresher look at who is pushing for software patents in Europe and who is antagonising them this week

EUROPE’S policy is under attack. Companies from across the Atlantic want to increase their foothold and all they need is a bunch of corruptible politicians, who will happily carry water for foreign interests that directly harm science and technology everywhere in the world. One of the latest dunces for bad patent policies is Vincent Van Quickenborne [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. He still fuels the EPO’s propaganda for more patents (business) and litigation too. To quote:

Vincent van Quickenborne says unitary patent wil provide cheaper, easier and full protection for European inventors

European software developers — myself included — should be very concerned about this. A plague that causes great harm to American developers is being exported to Europe with foresight that probably encompasses the rest of Asia, too. The monopolies never rest and they can never get enough laws that legitimise their infinite sense of entitlement, like some sort of a corporate welfare plan. There is ongoing discussion in FFII mailing lists (the relevant list seems to be private, so we won’t quote anything from it here) and it sure seems like many European developers worry about recent developments, primarily a report from the UK and the unitary patent lobby. The FFII’s president notes: “Swpats in the UK, more burden for software developers: http://ur1.ca/47lsk” (an article titled “UK report calls for reforms to intellectual property law” is providing some context/background). He links to this government report, noting:

Super High priority for the UK IPreview: unified EU patent court and EU patent system to validate swpats: http://ur1.ca/47y85

There is also this from the UK-IPO, on which he remarks by writing: “IPreview uses the term “non-technical computer programs”, but what is non-technical? http://ur1.ca/47y7m”

“European Commission tries to put patent law outside of Europe,” he concludes. We wrote about this before. Europe gives away its sovereignty and lets mega-corporations get their way at the public’s expense. Very discouraging indeed. Similarly he writes regarding this article that the Commission non-paper for hacking the ECJ decision, goal is to validate EU software patents with a central court” (see the FFII Web site for reference).

Dr. Glyn Moody, a British mathematician-turned journalist, is meanwhile criticising the “World Copyright Summit”, which oddly enough excluded the most important stakeholder:

The organisers really seem to have included everyone, just as they say: “All stakeholders involved in creative industries – creation, licensing, usage, collective management, legislation and dissemination of intellectual property and creative content.”

Well, everyone except one: The Public.

The public is the elephant in the room at this conference – or, rather, the seven billion elephants in the room.

Not only is the public not participating here, it is not even mentioned, as if the very word were some kind of defilement in these hallowed halls celebrating the great intellectual monopoly of copyright, and ways of extracting the maximum “value” from it.

It is the same when it comes to patents. Quoting The Register (from a notorious author who hates freedom), it sure seems like software patents are not there yet, at least not in Europe.

For software patents, the report is skeptical about the benefits, and highlights confusion in interpretation under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

Worth paying attention to is Google’s stance there. Google has been suffering a lot from software patents. In Europe it need not change/fix any laws, it merely needs to preserve an exclusion of software patents. Despite the apparent exceptions (such as Microsoft's FAT patent and Siemens [1, 2]), German courts are able to return to their senses and bread crumbs navigation is deemed not patentable by the German Federal Court:

In a judgment of 24 February 2011, the reasons for which only became available recently, the German Federal Court (BGH) upheld a decision of the Federal Patent Court which invalidated Siemens’ German patent DE 101 15 895 C1, which I take the liberty of referring to as the “bread crumbs patent”.

Another loss for software patents.

“Siemens is most probably a patent applicant world “leader”,” claimed Marcio B. Jr. a few days ago [1, 2]. Siemens also advocates/lobbies for software patents. Might we see affirmation that software patents in Europe are disregarded by the legal system?

The claim about Siemens is being contested by the president of the FFII, who says that Philips — not Siemens — is the worse among the European companies.

Philips pushing for a central patent court in the EU, number one pusher for software patents http://ur1.ca/47wn8

Another pusher for it appears to be Bill Gates and his sidekick (as noted earlier today), not just Microsoft and its lobbyists.

This is a subject of international scope. Not only Europeans should keep an eye on it; if Europe ever surrenders to the peanut gallery, the rest of the world will possibly follow.

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3 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    May 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Gravatar

    Developers should be concerned, but it is the users that have the most to lose. Patents target usage.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Sure, the only ones benefiting are non-producing people.

  2. pinguinpat said,

    May 21, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Gravatar

    Van Quickenborne (openVLD) really is unbelievable, since Belgium hasn’t formed a new government for almost a year now he still is in place together with his big EU brother De Gucht senior (openVLD) what makes the situation even worse.

    There should be going more information to all politicians as well as non-producing people who still don’t see the danger of software and other toxic patents.

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