back to article Commission repeats call for single EU patent

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 …


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Commission, hello world

€600,000 for 3 years isn't much money, perhaps a temporary office for 3 people.

The EPO is okay, and a going institution: why can't the commission work together with them?

Gates Horns

arse about face

Fact: Software patents hinder innovation, copyright law is good enough.

Fact: The only people who benefit are those who build the largest patent portfolios.

Fact: The only people backing this are major corporations who want to cash in on the commissions ignorance.

We're all doomed.

Anonymous Coward

Patents have been a net loss

Overall they've been a net loss to Europe. The problem isn't the idea of patents themselves, the basic idea of permitted short term exclusive rights to NEW inventions has a solid basis. The problem is the way the EPO and USPO have granted patents on EXISTING IDEAS, PROCESSES, and SOFTWARE. Effectively creating a burden on businesses.

Before you could keep your processes a trade secret, but they started permitting patents on business processes, thus the protection of trade secrets were lost.

Before you could keep your software a trade secret, but they permitted patents on software, thus protection of software by trade secrets was lost.

Being an preexisting invention no longer protected you, as the patent offices lowered their checks of prior art to a superficial scan.

Spam patents became the norm, with companies keeping legal reserves for the endless attacks from worthless shell 'inventor' companies.

So take the Tom Tom thing for an example, Microsoft obtains a patent on the long file names pseudonym for a short filename. They did not invent it, this preexisted, in the Mac in 1984 and in other file managers. Even despite that, they discussed at length their plans 5 years prior in 1990. Despite this Microsoft gets a patent in 2005 for this, and now tries to kill Tom Tom using this patent.

i.e. the patent system has simply created an attack mechanism for abusive monopolies to hold onto their market and put Tom Tom, a successful worldwide competing company, making *actual* products that *really* sell, at risk.

Then there's the non disclosed business process patents. Where the patent is awarded even though the business process can be kept secret. What is the point of that, at most it simply keep lawyers employed, unless we plan on building an economy based on lawsuits, it is an overhead, not added value!

Until the patent offices get their act cleaned up, nobody wants a centralized patent office. McCreevy should look at his own choices and see what a nightmare his vision of the patent based Europe really is.

Anonymous Coward

A quick question...

Do any European countries forbid software patents?

If so, would a centralised patent system force them to?

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Dead Vulture


A single Patent?

That would certainly make things simpler, but what's the betting that it would be granted to Microsoft, and cover everything in the entire universe?

Having tried to read the article, I am now assuming that the title got truncated somehow.


Don't feed the lawyers!

Once again it's Charlie McGreedy and his friends at the Commission who can't think beyond their own spreadsheets, believing (or perhaps inventing) the propaganda that all the junk patents stockpiled by McGreedy's other friends in various corporations are really worth a lot of money, that innovation can only be measured in such patents, and Europe would be a wealthier place if only they could shake European businesses down with them.

In fact, the only people who get wealthier in the perverse patent-intensive environment advocated by McGreedy and friends are the patent offices and the lawyers. The vast majority of software developers don't want patents on software - copyright is sufficient and a fair means of regulating ownership - but the lawyers need to leech off an actual industry in order to remain well-paid.

If you're a European software developer, don't let the lawyers defecate over your own profession in order to enrich theirs. Show the intellectually bankrupt Commission the finger and vote for an MEP who opposes software and business patents in the upcoming elections.


not just IT patents

The future of countries with well-educated people and few natural resources lies in doing research and selling the results to others. Patents are one mechanism to regulate the finances (along with copyright and trade secrets). Patents work fine in fields like engineering and chemicals.

I'm sorry for IT developers and IT companies that patents are not working well in IT, since software secrets are easily reverse-engineered, and thus copyright is no help. All that is left is continual improvement, which is a hard slog to earn good money from.


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.


lisbon first....

patents later........much later.


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.

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