EU wants punitive measures against patent infringements in ACTA

Knowledge Ecology International has posted the latest leaked version of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) text, the Washington DC August 2010 text.

The FFII published the following statement:

We are disappointed the EU still wants punitive measures against patent infringements in ACTA. The FFII analysis shows punitive measures do not work in fields where infringement is often unavoidable.

The software field is plagued by patents. Holders of huge patent portfolios may decide to eliminate competition from startups, small and medium sized enterprises and open source projects, on their own, or by using a proxy, a patent troll. Patent trolls acquire excessive power. This is bad for the European small and medium sized enterprises, which provide for most of Europe’s employment.

The inclusion of patents in ACTA causes many issues with regards to access to medicine. Not protected by the Doha Declaration, diffusion of green technology may face worse problems than access to medicine. Furthermore, medicines are often protected by a limited amount of patents. Complex products on the other hand may be covered by many patents. For instance, software systems may be covered by hundreds of patents. There are green software and business patents, e.g. on regulating traffic toll fees based on traffic volume/pollution. And many modern products, like hybrid cars, contain software. The problems the software sector is experiencing provide an indication of the issues the diffusion of green technology may run into with ACTA.

Unconsidered in ACTA is the situation presented in matters of public health surveillance, crisis management, civil and environmental response and related situations where cross-jurisdiction information exchange and the data associated therewith could constitute “infringing” activities. Under ACTA, both information and technology associated with data collection, aggregation, assembly and transmission and analysis could be impaired greatly enhancing the complexity of responding to events like SARS, the Avian Influenza and crisis response to natural and manmade disasters.

ACTA also evidences a clear lack of awareness on the manner in which green technology in the energy and infrastructure sectors operate. The majority of systems (for example, wind turbines, water turbines, and solar collectors) rely on cross-border up-time-management software and systems. ACTA explicitly and adversely impacts the ability to transmit grid and local data, operate feedback mechanisms to energy suppliers, and operate security protocols across international rail, air, and shipping infrastructure applications. Once again, in an effort to be responsive to the media industry, a far larger component of the global IT infrastructure is being overlooked. This, in the short term, will create unintended liabilities and, in the long term, like we’ve seen in the flow of energy from Russia into Europe, may be the source of highly politicized controversy and impairment.

FFII analysis

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