EU patent plans are a fuel for patent trolls, says British Telecom

Strasbourg, 27 april 2012 — British Telecom patent lawyer Simon Roberts warned that current plans for an EU patent court are a fuel for patent trolls. The current plans for an EU patent court will allow countries such as Germany to keep their bifucarted court system, which acts like a magnet for companies that want to enforce patents. Microsoft recently moved out of Germany because of the unbalanced of the german court system.

Simon Roberts of BT complained about the german court system, which favours patent owners by separating infringement and validaty proceedings. A product can be banned from the german market even if the patent is found invalid a year later.

Benjamin Henrion, president of the FFII, comments: “It is time for the software community to wake up. Ministers are clueless about the dangers of the EU court agreement, and I am surprised that top questions like bifurcation has not been fixed. German courts are now a magnet for patent trolls, and the EU patent court will allow them to stop products for a market of more then 600 million consumers. German failed patent system will expand to the whole EU.”

Baroness Wilcox said on the unitary patent proposal: “the danger of bifurcation is grossly underestimated, and what has arguably worked adequately in Germany will not translate to Europe as a whole, that if the system proves not to work we have no redress, and however valuable the objective may be in principle to have a unitary patent there is too much wrong with this proposal as it stands.”

In the current version of the treaty, the patent community is busy lobbying politicians to avoid the ECJ intervention in patent law (art 6 and 8), notably to avoid that the ECJ would have a say on the question of software patents.

Professor Hanns Ullrich has condamned the current patent plans in its latest paper: “All the substance of the unitary patent will be derived from public international law, and, thus […], will be outside the reach of the EU as regards any future amendments as well as beyond the reach and oversight of the ECJ.”

He continues: “one hardly dares to inquire into the reasons, which have driven the Union’s legislator, Commission, Council, and Parliament, to adopt this monstrous, multi-tentacular patent protection, which they will no more be able to tame.”

Background information

Ministers of the EU are planning under the Danish presidency to sign in June a non-EU patent treaty, which will be created outside of the European Union.

Top questions like bifurcation, localisation of the courts and software patents has been kept out of the debate.

Countries like Germany would be free to keep their current court system very favourable to patentees, but with the power to remove products from the whole EU market.


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About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing

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