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EU Central Court Could Validate Software Patents

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the we-have-come-seeking-rent dept.

EU 77

protoshell writes "'Software patents in Europe could be validated with a central patent court,' warns Richard Stallman in an article published in the Guardian. After the rejection of the software patent directive in 2005, large companies have shifted their lobbying towards the validation of software patents in Europe through a central patent court, which is foreseen with the Unitary Patent project. Even if the European Patent Convention literally excludes software from patents, the European Patent Office and the German courts interpret the exclusion narrowly, which makes software patents valid in the end."

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Pathetic (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172398)

the European Patent Office and the German courts interpret the exclusion narrowly, which makes software patents valid in the end.

Pathetic...so it's narrowly interpretable whenever they chose so, but broadly interpretable when they chose so too?

Fuk dis shit.

Re:Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172442)

The large companies mentioned in the summary pay for access to the influence that causes this to happen, and we don't. Ergo, it happens. It would be cool to start a group like a buyer's club for the rest of us, one that pools resources to purchase the influence from elected officials that is usually restricted to corporations.

Re:Pathetic (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37172692)

I really wonder if what we're seeing here is the complete and utter failure of democracy as a viable form of government. You don't see this kind of stuff in China, where the government is more interested in the whole nation actually advancing, instead of particular people or companies who pay off the right people. What we have in Western democracies is a ridiculous amount of blatant corruption from corporations, and there doesn't seem to be any kind of mechanism to deal with this. In theory, the ballot box is supposed to be a check against corruption, but in practice it simply doesn't work as voters are too stupid and easily swayed to vote for the right candidates, instead of corporate-backed corrupt candidates.

Re:Pathetic (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37172788)

As some Scottish guy whose name I forget said a couple of centuries ago, democracy can only last until the voters realise they can vote to steal their neighbours' stuff.

However, dictatorship is hardly an improvement: sometimes you may get lucky and have an effective and relatively non-corrupt leader in charge, but most of the time it's another Stalin or Saddam Hussein.

Re:Pathetic (2)

digitig (1056110) | about 3 years ago | (#37173398)

As some Scottish guy whose name I forget

Alexander Fraser Tytler, although the quote is also attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville who wasn't very Scottish. "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

Re:Pathetic (1)

fritsd (924429) | about 3 years ago | (#37176170)

Hmm..
Vladimir Zhirinovsky [wikipedia.org] :

For his own part, Zhirinovsky has done a great deal to foster a reputation as a loud and boisterous populist who speaks on behalf of the Russian nation and people, even when the things he says are precisely what many people, at home or abroad, do not want to hear. Zhirinovsky infamously promised voters in 1991 that if he were elected, free vodka would be distributed to all. Similarly, he once remarked, during a political rally inside a Moscow department store, that if he were made president, underwear would be freely available.

And more recently in the USA: Michele Bachmann [wikipedia.org] :

She has promised to bring the price of gasoline down to $2 per gallon.

I hope that Tytler is wrong about human nature :-)

Re:Pathetic (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37174384)

However, dictatorship is hardly an improvement: sometimes you may get lucky and have an effective and relatively non-corrupt leader in charge, but most of the time it's another Stalin or Saddam Hussein.

See, this is where the Chinese seem to have fixed the dictatorship problem. They're not a dictatorship, they're an oligarchy. So instead of one guy making all the decisions, there's a relatively small group of people making all the decisions. You could call it "dictatorship by committee". Yes, they have a Premier, but from what I can tell, the guy is sorta like a Prime Minister; he's appointed by the committee, and if they decide he's not leading well anymore, they can oust him and replace him with someone else. This eliminates the problems of dictatorship where one guy has all the power even if he turns into a loon like Saddam, Stalin, Gaddafi, or Kim Jong Il, but prevents the problems of democracy where the politicians pander to the dumb voters' whims, and use their stupidity against them (like the Republicans pandering to religious extremists but then making laws friendly to their rich corporate buddies when they get elected). Of course, if the committee is bad, that's a problem, but groups of people generally don't become paranoid and insane the way a Stalin or Hitler do. And from what I see, the upper leadership of China's Communist (in name only) Party is doing a much better job serving the needs of their nation, than the almost 500 members of Congress in the United States are doing serving the needs of their constituents.

Re:Pathetic (3, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 3 years ago | (#37172928)

Graft, corruption, and self-interest exist, even in China.

In theory, the ballot box is supposed to be a check against corruption, but in practice it simply doesn't work as voters are too stupid and easily swayed to vote for the right candidates, instead of corporate-backed corrupt candidates

You are supposing that there is a "right candidate" (and that that candidate is the one you would choose).

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.
Sir Winston Churchill
British politician (1874 - 1965)

Re:Pathetic (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37172974)

You don't see this kind of stuff in China

You may not see it, but it is most definitely there. It's just that China's government is a hell of a lot more quiet about it, and the little bit that does see daylight [ft.com] is considered normal, especially when compared to the more outrageous crap (by Western standards) that businesses pull off both with and against each other.

It also helps the facade when you occasionally execute the occasional minor official or two [bbc.co.uk] who don't pay enough of a 'vig' to keep the upper echelons' bank accounts properly greased.

Re:Pathetic (1)

zaroastra (676615) | about 3 years ago | (#37173684)

Never mind voting, last time the european parlament (with people elected through voting) said no to software patents, the prime ministers tried to overturn the move and aprove a higher yes to patents, which, if I recall correctly, was stopped only because of the polac prime minister, to which all in EU should thank.
Voting, not voting, all bollocks and all the same.

Re:Pathetic (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 3 years ago | (#37174680)

You don't see this kind of stuff in China, where the government is more interested in the whole nation actually advancing, instead of particular people or companies who pay off the right people. What we have in Western democracies is a ridiculous amount of blatant corruption from corporations, and there doesn't seem to be any kind of mechanism to deal with this.

You, sir, need to spend a month or two in China (or pretty much any Asian country) trying to do business. Political corruption, bribery, and corporate espionage is pretty much taken for granted. Most places will fire you if they ask you to bribe someone or steal another company's secrets, and you refuse. The business climate in Western democracies is much more ethical than there. The only reason you don't see it in China is because the government covers it up unless they want to make an example of it (e.g. executing the guys who put melamine into baby milk formula). If you follow the news for Japan and Korea, corporate and political corruption scandals are almost monthly occurrences.

How much innovation actually comes from China (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 3 years ago | (#37176042)

compared to how they just copy (in many cases poorly) from other nations and peoples?

While your view of China sounds grandiose and wonderful the fact remains, they don't innovate nearly as much as a society that protects the physical and intellectual property rights of individuals. While the idea of working for the common good is appealing human nature shows we are more likely to work harder for the common good when the individual rewards are considered worth while.

Just like the USA did in the 19thC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37176390)

Or was it OK when YOU did it?

Re:How much innovation actually comes from China (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37179554)

While your view of China sounds grandiose and wonderful the fact remains, they don't innovate nearly as much as a society that protects the physical and intellectual property rights of individuals.

You do realize the USA didn't honor copyrights and patents from the old world when it first became a country, right? The US made a lot of money making "unauthorized" copies of stuff.

As for IP rights of individuals, we don't do that either. We only protect "IP rights" of corporations. When was the last time some guy in his garage got a patent on something and built a big company out of it? The patent system is a joke, and should simply be abolished. Society would be better off; if you can't actually use the idea, and make something useful out of it, then you don't deserve any "protection".

Re:How much innovation actually comes from China (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about 3 years ago | (#37182096)

I would agree that China innovates less than most western nations, at least per capita. However, I would attribute that to a lower income, and more to a lack of personal liberties, not to a lack of protecting "intellectual property." Also, you should be careful about criticizing "for the common good" as at least the US patent and copyright systems exists "to Promote the Progress."

Re:Pathetic (1)

ciotog (1098035) | about 3 years ago | (#37172782)

I completely agree! Now everyone just send me your money, and I

promise

to represent your interests to the best of my ability!

Re:Pathetic (1)

morgaen (1896818) | about 3 years ago | (#37172846)

You sound like a riot.

Re:Pathetic (1)

mSparks43 (757109) | about 3 years ago | (#37175798)

There's a word for that, "corruption".
The fix for corruption is not more corruption.

Re:Pathetic (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#37175116)

Ya know, as much as I disagree with RMS on ....well everything actually, this is the ONE subject he and I agree on. software patents are nothing but a credit default swap Ponzi scheme bullshit that needs to DIAF yesterday. just because some multicorps bribed enough of the right people to get them passed here in the USA I had hoped the rest of the world wouldn't have been so easily bribed, I was wrong.

In the end I really don't think it is gonna matter much. Want to see the future of the EU and the USA? it is playing out right now in Tripoli. the people will only put up with massive unemployment and rampant corruption for so long before they turn against the system and when they do the west shall have our own Arab Spring. I for one look forward to it, maybe we can become a socialist constitution based democracy instead of a corporatist state. Maybe something like old Henry Fords "social capitalism" where he believed the workers should be paid well enough to afford the products that they actually got to make?

But in the end you can forget making a difference within the system. i have tried joining email campaigns, writing plenty of real letters, you name it against that "Hey lets spy on everyone!" Internet blacklist bill, where anybody in power won't even need a warrant or a reason to have your logs, any corp can kill your access to the outside world with NO court intervention, and all I have gotten back is one canned spam letter by the congress critters after another.

They all might as well read "hello (Insert Name) do you have monies? lots of monies? if you do then write (insert large check amount) and we may be able to make an exception for you! If you do not please see this full color blowup of Goatse and consider it our response to you. If you would like it framed please send (insert amount) to this address and we'll get it right out. Oh and don't bother voting for the other guy, the only difference is he'll be sending you a picture of Lemon party if you have no monies. Now please do not bother us again or we will fart in your general direction. Have a nice day and vote for me, because I get endless benefits and healthcare but my family needs cushy bribes too!"

Re:Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37176734)

According to George Orwell, a people's revolution comes from the middle class which becomes the new ruling class. Well the poor can't afford to buy guns, or support logistics, which I assume were supplied to Libyan rebels by an anti-Gaddafi coalition. Revolutionaries needs communication, transport, spies, which have to be bought at great expense by the revolutionary leaders or supplied by the whole population defying their overlords. The USA managed one political revolution but watch "The network" (1976) for an explanation of why it will never happen again.

Social capitalism is a great idea and the founding philosophy of many countries. Unfortunately, in any capitalist society, wages are a function of production, specifically the value added during the manufacturing process. So the wage for producing complex machines, such as a car, will be sufficient to provide a car and a comfortable life. But the wage for producing fabric pins needs be much more than cost of a pack of pins by the rules of socialism. This is why every society has slaves or sweat-shops or robots.

Another flaw in capitalism is how the market is abused not only by government policies such as patents, tariffs, subsidies, but by a consumer-driven move away from low-IP goods like cars, houses, clothes towards high-IP goods like music, phones, operating systems. Not only do these goods depend on government abuse of the market but they can be priced according to what the customer will bear, skewing the market even further.

Re:Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37175294)

The EPO has been known for a long time to be a highly corrupt organisation that whores itself out to the highest payer. Its head basically said a while back "we do what we want, not what elected officials tell us to". Nothing new here.

Frankly, the only way I see to stop this farce is with vigilantism against those who try to subvert democracy. The democratic process is broken thanks to lobbying and corruption. We, the people, no longer hold any real power that couldn't be overturned at the whim of those in power.

Re:Pathetic (1)

rmstar (114746) | about 3 years ago | (#37175910)

IIUC, this is not exactly correct. You can patent software in conjunction with a technical process that is not purely data processing. I.e. a specific server app: no patent. A specific way of controlling a washing machine: patent, together with the contraption to excert control. This has been cemented in a recent final ruling by the german high court that handed a Siemens a nice painful defeat as they tried to patent software.

I wonder if the mp3 patents would be up for overturning under this new view.

I am a little bit optimistic wrt software patents. Almost everyone who understands the issue dislikes them, except of course the cynical lawyer$ who only think of money. Anyay: not a time to become complacent. Write to your congressmen/MEP, donate to the ffii [ffii.org] , etc.

And You Could Be The Next Winner! (5, Insightful)

F69631 (2421974) | about 3 years ago | (#37172420)

As a citizen of the EU, I know that EU has a lot of flaws. The economic policies, the subsidies, etc... However, so far both the legislative branches and the courts have been simply awesome when it comes to not giving in to the lobbying of multinational companies. The courts have been handing fines for anti-competitive practices, privacy violations, etc. left and right (and yes, for european companies too) and the legislators have destroyed software patents, 3-strikes copyright laws, etc. at every occasion. When we do get horrible laws, they're generally based on "think of the children" or "terrorism".

So yeah... The software patents could be validated but frankly, I'm rather optimistic about this.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 3 years ago | (#37172490)

When we do get horrible laws, they're generally based on "think of the children" or "terrorism".

Unfortunately, only that last part sounds familiar.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 3 years ago | (#37172716)

Even if the European Patent Convention literally excludes software from patents, the European Patent Office and the German courts interpret the exclusion narrowly, which makes software patents valid in the end.

What does that mean, exactly?

... and the legislators have destroyed software patents ...

Sounds like they've been attempting to destroy software patents, without as much real success as we might like.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172798)

Sounds like they've been attempting to destroy software patents, without as much real success as we might like.

No worries, my country will take of it as it did before:

http://thankpoland.info/ [thankpoland.info]

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37175344)

No worries, my country will take of it as it did before:

I doubt it. By now your country's officials will be sufficiently bribed, bullied or otherwise "convinced" to agree to software patents.

Let's face it. We cannot stop things like software patents, unless we go after those who bribe officials. As long as the are allowed to roam free, they won't stop.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37172938)

Sounds like they've been attempting to destroy software patents, without as much real success as we might like.

The EU's goal is to make the legislature a meaningless figurehead that just rubberstamps the output of the underlying bureaucracy; kind of like the Queen in the UK.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37173020)

But... think of the terrorism against children! It needs to be stopped! We need software patents!

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 3 years ago | (#37174166)

As a citizen of the EU, I know that EU has a lot of flaws. The economic policies, the subsidies, etc... However, so far both the legislative branches and the courts have been simply awesome when it comes to not giving in to the lobbying of multinational companies (...) I'm rather optimistic about this.

This is because you never heard about the Laval and Viking cases [europa.eu] , where the European Justice Court interpreted UE directive written by the parliament so wrongly that it reversed what UE parliement meant.

US is not a democracy. Sometimes it produces good things, sometimes it does not, and we have no control at all on this

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | about 3 years ago | (#37174308)

And yet the issue is back. Do you know why? Because the lobbyists only have to win once and they will keep trying until they do.

The United States used to break up monopolies, pass environmental protection laws, establish consumer safety standards, workplace safety standards, etc. Corporations have now cornered the electoral market. 90% of the population will consider voting for one of two candidates, both of whom depend on large corporations to get elected.

I would be willing to bet the lobbyists in Europe have already made some small advances in their agenda. Sooner or later a more business-friendly atmosphere will develop and your optimism will be shattered.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

jopsen (885607) | about 3 years ago | (#37175718)

The United States used to break up monopolies, pass environmental protection laws, establish consumer safety standards, workplace safety standards, etc. Corporations have now cornered the electoral market. 90% of the population will consider voting for one of two candidates, both of whom depend on large corporations to get elected.

I don't think many EU citizens can tell you the name of the "president of the EU". In fact I wouldn't be surprised if most people can't tell you who is representing them in the EU parliament. Europe is still comprised of many small sovereign nations, and this is where all the interesting politics takes place, e.g. the stuff people care about healthcare, daycare, old-people-care, military deployments, educational support, etc...

That said, don't think I'm not afraid of cooperate lobbyists.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37174526)

The stench of collectivism will overwhelm you. Corprats will buy the courts over time or even push their own stealth judges and legislators in. You'll have a high time sucking off the tax tit getting free handouts and hell care but eventually...you or more likely your children will suck something else.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 3 years ago | (#37174876)

Add to that the fact that the respect for any legislation decreases the further south you get in Europe. Tax Authorities are treated with disrespect in the mediterranean countries and fear in northern Europe.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | about 3 years ago | (#37176292)

Tax Authorities are treated with disrespect in the mediterranean countries

Only by the rich. The common people fear them. With the little guy, they manage to get every little penny they're entitled to, and throw you in jail if you fuck up. With the big guy, they tend to look elsewhere. That's one of the reasons southern Europe countries are so fucked up, the middle class supports the entire economy by itself.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

zoobab (201383) | about 3 years ago | (#37175510)

The courts you are talking about are mostly the ones from the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The plan is to remove patentable subject matter from the hands of the ECJ, transferring that to a specialized patent court, similar to the CAFC.

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37175958)

How is the CAP not a result of lobbying? That's like 50 billion isn't it?

Wake up. http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/top100waste.pdf

Re:And You Could Be The Next Winner! (1)

Xest (935314) | about 3 years ago | (#37176234)

Yep, under the authoritarian Brown government in the UK it was always the European courts that I, as a British citizen living in the UK, had to rely on to protect my freedoms and liberties from my own government.

They may not be perfect but the EU judicial and legislative branches certainly seem to be a much better choice than their respective British, French, German, American, or Australian counterparts to live under. It's really only the Canadians that seem to do a much better job and even that seems somewhat under threat with the Conservative majority rule there now.

I'm still more worried about what my own government will do than what the EU will do. I find myself happy that the EU has once against overturned or blocked a stupid decision by my own government far more often than I find myself happy that my government has made a smart legislative decision.

Good for me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172448)

So if I am a garage startup in Europe: Is this a good thing?

Re:Good for me? (4, Insightful)

knarf (34928) | about 3 years ago | (#37172510)

So if I am a garage startup in Europe: Is this a good thing?

Of course not. Suppose that you come up with something that piques the interest of one of the big boys. You'll soon be ceasing and desisting whatever it was that they want under the onslaught of a megaton of patents on everything from the way you press the 'Q' key on your keyboard to the best time of day to pick your nose. In the end they will have what they want - namely whatever it was that you did which got them interested - and you'll be left bankrupt.

Patents are not for small inventors. They are there for those with war chests full of them and, of course, lawyers.

Re:Good for me? (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#37172908)

They are good for people who create things that are actually novel (nobody in the computer industry does). When you create a new moustrap that is provably different in every way than all others, then they won't have anything else to get you with. But with computers, almost nothing is close to novel. It's all been done before, it's just being presented/assembled in a different manner. Someone owns a patent on "using a compiler to compile software people want to buy" so there's nothing you could ever make that wouldn't be covered by someone else's broad and silly patents. That's why software patents need to be destroyed. They are patents on math. You can't patent a new formula, no matter how hard it was to prove. But you can patent that formula when you add "on a computer" on the end.

Re:Good for me? (1)

oobayly (1056050) | about 3 years ago | (#37173500)

The analogy I use is that if Karl Benz had filed his patent for the combustion engine in the way software patents are filed, it would have read something like:

1). Put hydrocarbon compound into metallic structure.
2). Get power out of metallic structure.

Re:Good for me? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#37173842)

And Ford's would be "Use labor reduction to increase profits" for the business method patent of the assembly line?

Re:Good for me? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37174408)

Exactly. At least now in Europe, the courts are better for smaller guys than in the USA. As I understand it, in many European countries (particularly Germany), there's a "loser pays" rule, so if some jerk tries to sue you over something that's BS, and of course he loses, he has to pay all your legal fees. It's not like that here in the USA; you have to have plenty of money to mount a legal defense, no matter how ridiculous the lawsuit. Sometimes, depending on the whims of the judge you happen to be assigned to, and just how ridiculous the case is, he may grant you legal fees, but it's definitely not a sure thing.

However, Europe does have one big problem going against it: bankruptcy law. As I understand it, it's basically impossible to get out of debt by declaring bankruptcy, the way you can in the US. So here, if you start up a company, get some business loans to fund the venture, try it out for a while but it goes belly-up, no big deal, you just declare BK and the company folds. Obviously this means lenders have to be more careful about who they lend to, but shouldn't they always? In Europe, you're personally liable for all your business debts, so if your small business fails, whether due to incompetence or a bad economy, you'll become a debt slave for the rest of your life. As a result, not many people start businesses.

Just look at where all the small-business innovation is going on: even these days, it's all in the USA. How many innovate start-ups have you ever heard of in Europe? Where did all the Silicon Valley giants start up? The industries that Europe's really good at are generally big industries with Big (with a capital B) companies, such as Airbus, Siemens, Mercedes-Benz, etc. A lot of these companies are even partially state-owned, which is like the Chinese model.

Re:Good for me? (1)

blowdart (31458) | about 3 years ago | (#37175066)

it's basically impossible to get out of debt by declaring bankruptcy, the way you can in the US.

Not true at all. I'll use the UK as an example because that's what I know. When starting in business you simply create a Limited company [wikipedia.org] And Limited means limited liability. So the company can be sued for debt, but your exposure as a director is limited to the amount initially invested (most typical), or the amount you guarantee when you take on directorship.

Personal bankruptcy works much like the US with a credit history ding for six years, and debts written off after a year.

Re:Good for me? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37179930)

That's not what I've heard about Germany specifically. I do know that the UK is very different in many ways from continental Europe (in everything, not just bankruptcy law), and a lot closer to the US, so I would tend to think of the UK as an exception for anything.

Everything you wrote sounds exactly like the US.

Re:Good for me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37181756)

Since 1999 we have something called "consumer insolvency" here in Germany, that gets you out of all your debt (except tax obligations and fines to pay) in six to seven years. It also applies to regular folks, freelancers and small-time business owners, so creating your own start-up without having to risk your whole future is certainly possible here as well.

Re:Good for me? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 3 years ago | (#37182686)

That's good to hear; I guess the information I read was a little dated. So why'd it take so long to bring that about anyway?

Re:Good for me? (1)

xelah (176252) | about 3 years ago | (#37184840)

Exactly. At least now in Europe, the courts are better for smaller guys than in the USA. As I understand it, in many European countries (particularly Germany), there's a "loser pays" rule, so if some jerk tries to sue you over something that's BS, and of course he loses, he has to pay all your legal fees. It's not like that here in the USA; you have to have plenty of money to mount a legal defense, no matter how ridiculous the lawsuit. Sometimes, depending on the whims of the judge you happen to be assigned to, and just how ridiculous the case is, he may grant you legal fees, but it's definitely not a sure thing.

Yes, there's a loser pays rule in the UK....but you don't often get all of your costs, normally you get 70%, and you don't get them until afterwards. If you're the plaintiff you might also find your case thrown out because you won't be able to pay the other side's costs if you lose. If you're the defendent you're going to have to find many hundreds of thousands to pay lawyers and may run out, leaving you likely to lose, or go bankrupt before the end of the case. Better, maybe, but still likely to be instant death for the smallest companies or startups.

Re:Good for me? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#37172746)

You'll be parking a Yugo in that garage. Not a BMW.

If Richard Stallman says so ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172470)

If Richard Stallman says so ...

I mean seriously ...? The line separating this "news" from pure FUD is a very thin one ...

Re:If Richard Stallman says so ... (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 years ago | (#37172592)

I, too, am glad that we are fortunate enough to live in a world where none of RMS's 1980s predictions about future attempts to increase corporate and governmental control over technology have come to fruition.

Re:If Richard Stallman says so ... (1)

bosson (793519) | about 3 years ago | (#37284106)

Do you have reference to those predictions?

Do yourselves a favor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172646)

Abolish patents. Trust me, history has shown that without them, the world is a better place.

See this for reference:
http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm

Re:Do yourselves a favor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172754)

And here: www.ipocracy.com/blog:patents-considered-evil

There's been a "slow rush" to do this since 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172760)

This has been the focus of the pro-swpat lobby since they lost in June 2005.

We have legislation, patent offices, and courts. The legislation says programmes for computers are not patentable. The Patent Offices grant software patents anyway. The decision comes down to the national courts. Now, if the national courts could be replaced by a single court, staff with patent experts (read: ex-patent-lawyers), then the "law" changes drastically without having to go through the pesky democratic legislative procedures that blocked software patents in 2005.

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/United_Patent_Litigation_System
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Unifying_Europe%27s_patent_systems
http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Software_patents_exist_in_Europe,_kinda

They're already valid (4, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 3 years ago | (#37172804)

... in the same way that software patents are valid in the US. Here, software per se is unpatentable, but if claimed as being performed by a specific computer, then it's patent eligible*. That's essentially what the Bilski decision was. Same thing in Europe: software per se is unpatentable, but a machine performing software is currently patentable.

*note: this does not mean "performed by a specific computer" is not obvious. This is purely about whether a class of subject matter is potentially patentable. Yes, performing software on a computer is obvious, but if the software is new and non-obvious, then the claim as a whole can be patentable.

Disclaimer: I am a US patent attorney. I've gotten many patents issued on software performed by a computing device, as well as software embodied in articles of manufacture, both here and in Europe. That said, I'm not your attorney, and this isn't legal advice, and is purely for the purposes of (my own) amusement.

Re:They're already valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172950)

> but if the software is new and non-obvious, then the claim as a whole can be patentable.

Too general, EU states have their own laws, in mine (Poland) it says:

Art. 28
A (patentable) invention is not any of the following:
1). Discovery, scientific theory, mathematical method
2). ..
3). ..
4). ..
5). Program for digital machines
6). Information presentation method

Re:They're already valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172956)

This sounds ridiculous to me because it sounds like you are saying, "Solitaire" = non-patentable but "Solitaire on a computer" is patentable. And you support this? Do the world a favor and, as an inside person, effect change for the better. The whole, "If you can't beat them, join them" and "You can't win so you get yours while you can" attitude is destroying civilization.

Re:They're already valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37173220)

Solitaire is a whole other ball park and falls more under copyright. The rules of a game cannot be protected by copyright, but the particular design of a board game, etc. can be. The design of the cards could also be subject to copyright, but there's no way that the game itself can be.

Re:They're already valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37174898)

If there was a lot more money in making up rules for new games, you can bet your ass they would find a way to patent the rules of solitaire.

Re:They're already valid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37174094)

Disclaimer: I am a US patent attorney.

Get thee behind me, demon! :P

Re:They're already valid (1)

Kristian T. (3958) | about 3 years ago | (#37177506)

It's true that the European Patent Office has been granting US-style software patent for many years - but it's also the case that noone has dared to enforce such a patent via the European courts. This is probably bacause the EPO has been employing a very "creative" interpretation to justify it's practice - and is far from certain that it would hold up. That's one of the reasons that the EPO is working to desperately to change the law before it's shown that it has been breaking the current laws.

Now that the attempts to sneak sw-patents through the parlament have been stopped - it's trying to set up a whole seperate system without any accountability to any publicly elected body what so ever. That attempt can only be described as undemocratic - even by those who would support the acknowledgement of sw-patents.

Re:They're already valid (1)

paulo.casanova (2222146) | about 3 years ago | (#37178112)

Yes, I can see you are a US patent attorney but you don't seem knowledgeable of EU law (which has to include laws from all countries as we are not a federal state). The difference between what is patenteable in the US and in the EU is immense. And the interpretation of patents done by courts is also much different.

With all of its problems, the EU has had a much superior stance (in my position) regarding big-corporation as Europe's mentality is much different from US.

For your information, here is article 52 of the European Patent Convention:

(1) European patents shall be granted for any inventions, in all fields of technology, provided that they are new, involve an inventive step and are susceptible of industrial application. (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1: (a) discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods; (b) aesthetic creations; (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers; (d) presentations of information.

Patents such as this (Microsoft's 'is not' operator) [uspto.gov] only exist in the US. Sometimes it is hard to understand how can an country with so many intelligent people produce such intellectual atrocities? O, wait...

Re:They're already valid (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 3 years ago | (#37181544)

Yes, I can see you are a US patent attorney but you don't seem knowledgeable of EU law (which has to include laws from all countries as we are not a federal state).

No, I know... The EP patents I was talking about have been nationalized in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and Germany. I suppose Austria may be different, but I doubt it.

The difference between what is patenteable in the US and in the EU is immense.

No, actually. As you note, EPC Art. 52 says that "programs for computers" are not patentable. That's exactly what I said originally: Programs are not patentable, just like in the US, software alone is not patentable. However, once tied to a machine, the software is patentable, both in the US, and in every EC state that I've nationalized in, at least.

Re:They're already valid (1)

paulo.casanova (2222146) | about 3 years ago | (#37183722)

Part of the difference may not be in actual law but in actual practice. The USPO is doing a fine job at playing ridiculous. Patents for all sorts of stupid things have been awarded and the whole process is much more complex. For example, in Europe any company or individual may oppose patenting whereas in the US you must challenge the patent in court (which is very expensive and undoable in practice).

software in Europe can only legally be patented if it is associated with some sort of mechanical / physical device. Software, by itself, is not patenteable. But you must also be aware the the the law is interpreted differently in Europe than in the US: European courts tend to look more at intent than the actual writing of the law. In the US companies have been able to patent many purely algorithmical stuff and concepts that are either invalid or challengeable / unenforceable under European law.

Part of the recognition that patent law in Europe is much less enforceable than the US is the lesser number of challenges that to go court. Most companies are aware that -- with the current state of the law -- software patents are unenforceable and invalid under current law (regardless of what the EPO says and wants). The results in the European Parliament are proof of that and they can/should be used in Court to reveal "intention" of the legislator.

As a side note, you also forgot to include most of the EU countries in your list :) Which means your software is not patented in most European countries. Of course, after recognition by the EPO it should be easier to get them but you still need to work out with each individual state... and court actions too! The ones you list may be the richest (by some criteria) but more than half is still missing :) So your patents are not enforceable in most EU both by number of countries and area...

Re:They're already valid in whose eye? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37183492)

Each patent , copyright or license to sell, produce or market a product or a service is a property right monopoly. All of these monopoly types were created from thin air by the rule of law and enforced by the power of the state against all would be competition and all world be competitors have been blocked from competing. .
Everyone should be against monopolies. It is now clear.

The current humanity of the world has been victimized by economic instability imposed by the so called global economic system. The global economic instability is almost exclusively attributable to, and is the direct result of, the privately owned property rights, produced from thin, by rule of law and force of treaty. Both rule of law and force of treaty have been proven to subvert the eye and will of the governed humanity and to favor the commercial interest within the state.

Rule of law generated monopolies, in reality, extract from the public commons, package the extraction, and grant the packaged benefits in favor of commercial private interest. This method of extraction of public commons excludes the governed from a say in their own governments. Governments have endowed so many enterprises with so much monopoly, and so few enterprises have survived, because of the broad exclusion powers at work in monopolies, that there is no longer sufficient independent competition to support a productive economic activity.

In other words, to fix the global economy: copyrights, patents, and licenses issued by state or agencies of the global governments, to product or service providers, must be negated! Without independent competition there is no economy.

A dictator can make popular decisions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37172936)

A dictator can make a decision which you might like; a democracy can make a decision which you do not like. Criticism of the EU is about the decision making process, not necessarily the actual decisions themselves (though enough of those have been criticised too).

The EU is undemocratic. The public did not have a say in the ratification of the EU constitution (in all but name). The politicians dragged their electorate into the scheme with out any consultation. It is a project driven by a European elite who care only about economic momentum (with you as a commodity). The public don't get to decide what legislation will be put before the council of ministers (or vote the ministers into their post) and the EU increasingly imposes decisions on the member states.

That's all great while the decisions they are making suit your point of view but wait till it swings the other way. The executive in the EU have more power than any individual European state and are unaccountable.

Re:A dictator can make popular decisions (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | about 3 years ago | (#37176296)

It is a project driven by a European elite who care only about economic momentum

Looks like they fucked up on that part, too.

Wait until Eu Parl fucks them up. (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 3 years ago | (#37173092)

They were trying to push ACTA too, and look what happened in the end ? Eu Parl effectively banned acta eu wide so efficiently that it would serve no purpose. and thats why you dont hear about much these days probably.

I patent the use of the letter "E" on line $0.02 p (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 years ago | (#37173094)

I patent the use of the letter "E" on line $0.02 per use!

Re:I patent the use of the letter "E" on line $0.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37173198)

That's ok, I hav nvr usd that lttr bfor and nvr intnd to.

With such bald faced quid pro quo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37173156)

With so much bald faced quid pro quo going on between corporations and government, I would say that not only is it not immoral to pirate their software and music in return, it's actually a moral obligation. Furthermore, pirate it for profit and use the profits to undertake actions that will eventually undermine their authority.

Re:With such bald faced quid pro quo... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 3 years ago | (#37179676)

Furthermore, pirate it for profit and use the profits to undertake actions that will eventually undermine their authority.

Like buying ammunition, explosives and flammables? Because those are the only things that will do.

Yea, yea yea. BS. Fud (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37173260)

Not logged in but mod me TROLL. Ain't gonna happen. FUD, again. The only truth of this is that /. will post it as fact. Good night. Mod me Troll. Sheeeeeesh............. Come on guys, WTW?

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