01.20.15

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Failure of the EPO Can Derail the Trojan Horse of Software Patents and Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoit Battistelli

Summary: Dazzled by his endless pursuit of infinite money and power, Battistelli pushes for expansion of patent scope (geographically too), but he won’t have it without a challenge

OUR recent posts about the EPO have had a profound impact and management of the EPO paid attention. We know this for a fact. Long-term readers of this site already know that we have a grudge not just because of abuses at the EPO but also a rogue agenda, which includes expansion of patent scope well beyond what is reasonable. The same goes for geographical expansion, transcending even Europe’s borders (see yesterday’s announcement titled “Morocco recognises European patents as national patents”). It’s like the military industrial complex in the patent sense, seeking to create itself more business; instead of promoting fear of terrorism to make money from, the EPO is promoting fear of lack of “protection” (as in protectionism) and other such stuff. It’s quite a coup d’état.

Several years ago we highlighted the possibility that Europe was opening its doors to patent trolls. A new report estimates that the U.S. economy lost $80 billion to patent troll lawsuits, so the last thing we need right now in the same in Europe. to quote the new report from a few days ago: “The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee lodging industry, today announced the formation of a coalition, United for Patent Reform. The broad-based coalition is designed to battle “patent trolls,” entities that use predatory legal tactics to sue for patent infringement. AH&LA is joined by a number of groups from the hospitality, retail, technology and construction-based industries, among others.

“This morning, the new coalition sent a letter to Leaders in Congress and Members of the Judiciary Committees in the U.S. House and Senate outlining the principles strong patent reform legislation should include. A copy of that letter is attached to this release.”

“What Europe needs is sharing, not protectionism.”In order to stop the plague of patent trolls, which usually use software patents, we need to keep the EPO in check. Like the military industrial complex, left unchecked it would expand infinitely and seek ways to justify this expansion, even to the point of costing trillions of dollars (in national debts, risking austerity everywhere). What Europe needs is sharing, not protectionism. The latter only serves few powerful corporations and makes them even stronger. It is a threat to democracy itself. Just watch the distribution of patents at the EPO; it doesn’t serve the “little guy” (or gal) but the rich and powerful.

Linux-backing players are increasingly dominant, but they face patent risk and are trying to embrace patents to defend against those who hoard patents (e.g. Nortel’s and Novell’s) to damage or tax the competition’s products, even in Europe where software patents are informally invalid. Nevertheless, EPO management, as corrupt as it has become, tries to legitimise software patents, e.g. with the unitary patent that we wrote about in past years. Here are some older articles of ours:

According to a new Unitary Patent analysis [PDF] from Ingve, an attorney at law from Düsseldorf (Germany), the recent chaos at the EPO may play a considerable role. Ingve is practicing in the area of patent litigation and he regularly writes about the Unitary Patent, so he should know. “I follow closely your blog posts,” he wrote, “on the developments at the EPO.”

“I thought you might find it interesting,” he wrote to us, “keep up your good work!”

Even those who are in the patent business seek to stop the ‘patent industrial complex’ where they see it as threatening to the legitimacy of the EPO. Battistelli is extremely unpopular in many quarters, even among his staff, stakeholders, and fellow Frenchmen.

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