Bonum Certa Men Certa

Is Europe Being Assimilated to America, Patent-wise?

Having observed some disturbing developments in Europe, it is worth turning more attention to the state of European law on software patentability. According to the following new FAQ, things are not so rosy.

Frequently Asked Question: Do software patents exist in the EU?

Answer: The problem is that software patents exist in some ways in the EU. The power of patent governance is split between a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.


The short answer is that it's complicated, but Europe's stance appears to have weakened, which is appalling. Just take a look at what American users need to cope with, based on this new blog item.

As a beginner Linux user, I only recently realized that few people are aware or care that they are breaking U.S. law by using unlicensed codecs. Even fewer know that the codecs they use are unlicensed, or what to do about it. Warning dialogs (e.g., in Ubuntu) provide no practical alternative to installing the codecs, and are an unwelcome interruption to workflow.


Hope for patent sanity on this side of the ocean is not lost. However, it's important to be aware of the weaknesses. Patent sprees seem to be on the up, indicated by most recent stories, such as the following two:



Shares of Transmeta nearly quadrupled in value after the company said it reached an agreement with Intel, on a patent lawsuit, to settle all claims between them and license the Transmeta patent portfolio to Intel.




SanDisk said it filed suit against 25 companies, in three different rounds, in two venues on Wednesday, seeking to prevent those companies from shipping products SanDisk says infringe its patents.


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