Commission repeats call for single EU patent
You're holding up the whole line
The European Commission has reiterated its demand for the creation of a single European patent. It said the absence of such a protection is hindering the growth of technology companies in the European Union.
The Commission has published a strategy aimed at increasing the benefit to be gained in the EU from technology research and development. It announced an increase in research funding for technology research of over 50 per cent between 2010 and 2013. It will increase spending from €1.1bn to €1.3bn, it said.
The Commission said, though, that increased funding for for research was only part of the its plan to create more economic value from EU research.
"The framework conditions for regulation, standardisation and intellectual property right (IPR) regimes need to be adapted to new realities," said its proposal to the European Parliament and Council. "Standardisation structures and processes must become more agile and reactive, and with a clearer distinction between missions requiring public intervention and those more related to market dynamics."
"The IPR system also needs to be improved by the creation of a Community patent for innovative ICT companies to protect their inventions in the single market," it said.
Patents covering much of Europe do exist, but they are operated by the European Patent Office (EPO), which is not a part of EU government. If the EPO gives a patent application its approval then it is granted only in the countries specified in the patent application, not automatically in all the countries signed up to its governing principles, the European Patent Convention.
The Commission wants to address the fact that the EU lags behind other countries or groups of countries in the earning power of its technology industry.
"Today Europe represents 34% of the global information and communication technologies (ICT) market, and its value is growing by 4% per year. However, the value added produced by the EU's ICT sector amounts to only 23% of the total, because both Europe's market and research efforts are fragmented," said a Commission statement. "As a result, Europe is lagging behind its global competitors in ICT research and in the production of innovative ICT-based products and services."
The Commission has recommended to the Parliament and Council that a single EU patent would help to create more economic value from research.
"The fragmentation of the European market for innovative ICT products and services is one of the main factors behind the low investments and slow development of high-growth SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises]," said its proposal. "Little interlinkage can be seen in the 'knowledge triangle' between innovation, R&D and education policies that are often drawn up in isolation by different ministries or at different levels. The consequences are: duplication of efforts, lack of critical mass, difficulties in addressing common challenges jointly and, in the end, sub-optimal returns on R&D investments."
Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy has previously proposed uniting elements of the EPO with its own proposals for cross-border patents to create a new EU-wide patents system, but has faced political opposition over the plans.
The Commission has said that it will increase its spending on technology research by €600,000 over the three years to 2013, and that national governments should increase their spending on research by the same amount. That would more than double the amount spent on technology research in the EU by governments.
"For decades to come, ICT will underpin the competitiveness of our economy, the efficiency of our public services and our quality of life," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "Europe represents the largest share of the world's ICT market. Our economic performance and jobs depend on these technologies. Our task is to make sure that Europe is well-equipped to harness the potential of technologies like the internet or mobile phones. This means taking concrete steps to ensure that Europe takes pole position to shape and benefit from ICT developments."
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No Software Patents
1. Inadvertent use of patents is common in software.
We build and invent solutions to satisfy business requirements every day. In the process we inadvertently fall foul of hundreds or thousands of issued software patents. Most of us don't know or care that our algorithms have been used by others, it's just part of the job.
2. No public value.
Software that can be understood and/or duplicated without reverse engineering does not deserve patent protection. Otherwise what is the public getting in return for issuing those patents?
3. Adds inefficiency for developers.
Looking through USPTO filings for answers is incredibly inefficient and pointless when web communities exist with better quality information. The biggest challenges to professional software engineers are understanding the business problems clearly, not technical issues. This is exactly why technical problems are passed off to junior developers in IT firms. Requiring us to cross check all our code for patented algorithms and then try to find legal workarounds is both stupid and futile. This is compounded by the fact that IP owners attempt to deliberately patent all the good and bad solutions to a problem.
4. Scale & Expense.
There are so many potential software inventors today that it just doesn't make sense to attempt the impossible task of legally associating every single work with an inventor. It's easily possible for the wrong inventor to be credited without the knowledge of others.
4. Questionable legal standing
Many patents are bogus. Patent owners don't sue until it's profitable for them to do so. So those developing products through their own efforts may face surprise lawsuits once it becomes profitable. The only reason the software we still have software patents is because the norm is to not enforce them. If they were strongly enforced like trademarks, then the field would collapse to a few dozen or so companies who would own the rights to all software development.
5. Encourage wrong behaviors
Patents shift resources and effort away from innovation and instead focus on legal and financial efforts to acquire patent protectionism. IP owners with massive legal branches to protect patents may be profitable for the owners, but the macro effect is that everyone else is forced to give more attention to legal licensing matters rather than product development. In the end those who own IP are more profitable than those developing the products.
patents later........much later.
Patents are about stifling innovation, not supporting it
NB said it, accurately and concisely.
Basically, the EU is saying they want their patents to be as strong as the US version but in reality the US version is more broken.