back to article Incoming EPO president reopens software patent debate

New head of the European Patent Office (EPO), Alison Brimelow, has signalled her intentions early, calling a public meeting to discuss the policy vacuum left by the rejection of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions. Purists will argue that there is no such vacuum, of course, because a treaty drawn up in the '70s …


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Anonymous Coward

EPO Liability for Bad Patents

The big improvement you could make is to make the EPO liable for the commercial damage the issuing of a bad patent makes.

The EPO makes an assertion that a patent invention is new and novel and non obvious, but there's no comeback if they're wrong. They're like a civil engineer without insurance. If a civil engineer, or any other professional gives an opinion like that, they have a liability if they are wrong. The EPO can do far more damage, but has no liability for when it's wrong.

Industry faces catastrophic blocks to a market from these patents, (Blackberry being a big example of that), yet the patent office that made the false assertion that it was patentable has no comeback.

They just shrug their shoulders and continue like nothing happened. That in turn led the EPO to issue patents in areas where it has no way of testing new and novel.

The USA is a big example of the problems. USA has a huge and increasing trade deficit, so it doesn't look like wild free patenting is a substitute for competitive industry. And we have seen is tiny one or two man patent troll companies taking advantage of the system. They extract $100 million for a big corp and in turn that corp is $100 million less competitive.

So that's the big bonus item, that I'd like to see happen. If the EPO issue a patent, they should have a liability to compensate any damages incurred if that patent is found to be wrongly issued.


It's dead easy

Grant patents, but make them shorter. No more than five years for anything that can be duplicated easily, and the item then enters the public domain thereafter (ie you give up copyright protection if you get a patent).

Then people can decide whether to use patents, or plain and simple copyright.

Then you'll see if there is a great drop off in 'innovation'. I very much doubt it.


It's not about patents...

"What we need is not more patents, but more good patents. This will enable the EPO to remain a confident and competent organisation which can continue to set the global benchmark in patenting."

It's about preserving the EPO as a notable organisation (and salary to go with it no doubt).



" best to offer protection to inventors working in this highly technical field? It is an important question, and not really one that as been properly answered."

but one side of that part of the question *has* been answered - I call it the 'corollary defence';

a computer program etc. is not patentable 'as such', therefore no computer program etc. 'as such' can be in breach of a patent.

That protects the vast majority of people working in "this highly technical field".


AndyD 8-)#


No no no and no

No software patents! There is not a single good reason to have software patents. On the other hand, there are bad ones enough (patent trolls, corporate types engaging in patent blackmail, FUD, market monopolies, ...)

In case they lobby this into existence anyway (and as usual they will), patents should be non-transferable so they cannot be used as a commodity, which is not the purpose of a patent anyway - you know: "protect the original inventor"... yeah right!

Nothing but old-fashioned greed.

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