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Patents Roundup: Software Patent Opinions in the UK

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Summary: Bits and pieces about patents from British Web sites

THE previous post dealt with several weeks' worth of embarrassing news from the USPTO and its clients. The problem is not just American however. In the UK, for example, the BBC does its usual patents boosting, disguised using sob stories with "entrepreneurship" in them. Is this public service for taxpayers? It is more like indoctrination.

Dr Chan's latest innovations, WizPatent and WizFolio, arose after he wanted to patent a product but needed to sort through existing, similar patents to check for infringement or copyright issues.

In the EU/UK blog composed only by British patent lawyers there is this post about Community Restricted-Area Patent (CRAP), which is a concept it explains as follows:

Says the IPKat, this is one of the greatest tests of democracy which the European Union has faced: if the people vote for CRAP, will they get it? Says Merpel, according to some opinions, this is no question: it has sometimes been suggested the European Union delivers CRAP whether people vote for it or not.

A versatile word: CRAP as a surname, an acronym and an place name. In the plural: a patented game played with cards and dice, as well as an unpatented one.

Gordon from TechBytes has this good post which he titled "The Road To Stagnation Is Paved With Patents":

All of the large corporations spend a lot of time and money telling anyone who will listen that patents are a vital component to innovation. They use it in PR for the education system to indoctrinate kids, the political system to extend IP laws and treaties. Patents in fact are the path to stagnation.

A UK-based journalist, Rupert Goodwins, writes: "I love technology, but software patents are breaking my heart..."

Finally, going back to an English blog, "Court of Justice rules on Czech GUIs" says the title.

Here's a little copyright case which, the IPKat thinks, may just be wrongly decided. The Court of Justice of the European Union has just delivered its ruling in Case C‑393/09, Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany v Ministerstvo kultury, a reference for a preliminary ruling from a Czech Court, the NejvyÅ¡Å¡í správní soud.

In April 2001 the BSA applied to the Ministry of Culture for authorisation for the collective administration of copyright in computer programs, under Paragraph 98 of the Czech Copyright Law, its objective being to secure the right to the collective administration of graphic user interfaces (GUIs -- the bits that computer users see on the screen, like icons which they can click on when navigating a program). After nearly four years of ding-dong battle in the courts and before the Ministry itself, the Ministry rejected the BSA application yet again on two grounds: (i) the Copyright Law protected only the object code and the source code of a computer program, but not the result of the display of the program on the computer screen, since the graphic user interface was protected only against unfair competition; (ii) the collective administration of computer programs was possible in theory, but since voluntary collective administration served no purpose, mandatory collective administration was not an option in reality.

Notice the role of the BSA there. Techrights actually made it into news sites (e.g. in Germany and Hungary) for writing about it. However, the case above extends further into continental Europe, which we'll deal with in the next post.

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