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New EU-Wide Patent System Approved

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the resubmit-your-claim-for-every-two-hundred-miles-travelled dept.

Patents 75

Dupple writes "There's a two page article over on IT World detailing a new patent system passed by the European Parliament that will unify the patent process across most countries in the EU. Quoting: 'Parliament adopted all three proposed regulations needed to form the new patent system on Tuesday: the regulation on a Unitary Patent, the language regime and the formation of a new unified patent court system. Not all European Union member states want a part in the new system: Italy and Spain refused to participate, although they may join at any time. The new system will cut the cost of obtaining a patent in the participating countries by up to 80 percent, the Parliament said. The patents will be made available in English, French and German and applications will have to be made in one of those three languages. Not everyone was pleased with the newly adopted regulation though. MEPs opposing the adopted text are concerned the new system is going to be bad for innovation and business, and by voting for the text, the Parliament is giving away powers, they said. The new regulation "means the European Parliament will abdicate all its political powers to an organization ... that is outside of the E.U.," said Christian Engström, Pirate Party member of parliament, adding that he still wanted a European patent as long as it did not hamper innovation as he believes the proposal in its current form does.'"

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I have a huge load of shit building up in my anus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253219)

I'd like to release my shit in the mouth of Parliment while they sit under my John.. Off to the toilet I go to imagine such things!

hell no, we won't go (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253239)

frist ps0t

rounded corners? (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253281)

Does this mean I can get the EU patent on rounded corners?

joking but seriously I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there.

Re:rounded corners? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253319)

but seriously I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there

Don't hold your breath. The patent system worldwide is in desperate need of reform, but every change we've seen so far has been in favor of moneyed interests and against people who actually do hard intellectual work. Both of TFAs are frustratingly light on details, but honestly I'll be kind of shocked if the new system doesn't follow that trend.

Re:rounded corners? (5, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253399)

Both of TFAs are frustratingly light on details

But there is a mention of a Pirate Party member being against it. I think this is a good indication that the change is not for the better.

Re:rounded corners? (2, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42255593)

But there is a mention of a Pirate Party member being against it. I think this is a good indication that the change is not for the better.

I have nothing against the PP I think they (like many politicians) have genuinely good intentions but the reality is they are single issue ideolgical perfectionists just like their sworn enemies. It's said that "perfection is the enemy of progress", the fact that a PP politician doesn't like this new system does not really indicate that's it's any better or worse, it just indicates it doesn't perfectly align with his ideology. The majority of politicians who actually make the descisions are not single issue politicians, and they're anything but perfectionists.

Re:rounded corners? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42256851)

That's unfair. Many of the Pirate Parties are pretty damned flexible on the issues they care about and are generally not striving for an absolute extreme (such as abolishment of copyright law, patents, trademarks, and data protection laws). They may seem extreme because their ideal position is so far from the current state of affairs.

Example: If a major party decided to push for a reduction of copyright to, say, 40 years, I think they would receive a lot of support from the Pirate Party (who themselves would obviously prefer to see much less).

Re:rounded corners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42258637)

I have nothing against the PP

Of course you do.

the reality is they are single issue ideolgical perfectionists

False. Try harder next time.

Re:rounded corners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42260499)

"perfection is the enemy of progress"

I've heard this before but you just reminded me of it. This is one of my life's biggest hurdles. I have a tendency to not bother doing something unless I'm confident it can be perfect/amazing/awesome the first try. I gotta cut that shit out. Thanks for remind me.

Re:rounded corners? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253635)

Well, defending a patent on something as stupid as rounded corners is probably very hard intellectual work, but it's not *productive.*

Re:rounded corners? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#42255801)

Well, defending a patent on something as stupid as rounded corners is probably very hard intellectual work, but it's not *productive.*

Heh. I wasn't thinking about defending patents so much as coming up with patentable material in the first place--and thinking "hey, we should round off those corners" is not hard work by any reasonable definition.

Re:rounded corners? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42261815)

Heh. I wasn't thinking about defending patents so much as coming up with patentable material in the first place--and thinking "hey, we should round off those corners" is not hard work by any reasonable definition.

Except there never was a patent on rounded corners. Look it up.

FIrst, it starts with a "D". It means it's not a utility patent (one the describes how to do something), it's a design patent. The rules are completely different, and other than the word "patent" are completely unrelated pieces of IP.

Basically a design patent is a narrower form of trademark - it exists for a specific time period (5 years, IIRC) and is non-renewable (trademarks are valid as long as they're used in trade). They also must describe what exactly makes the thing being patented unique compared to all the other things out there. (It's an AND situation - if you change one detail in the design, it's no longer violating the patent. So if it was "rounded corners with a centered logo on one of the long edges on the front", if you put your logo on the corner, or the short side (anywhere but centered on a long edge), you're golden.

You'd think with /.'ers having a greater than normal interest in IP law that they'd actually study well, the IP laws in question. It's not hard to understand the basics...

Re:rounded corners? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42262607)

I am very aware of the situation at hand.

as a /. reader you would think that you would know a joke when you see one by now

Re:rounded corners? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253383)

I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there.

Unlikely. But at least it will be the same patent in a lot more countries. Needing dozens of teams of lawyers to manage dozens of different sets of rules is just not productive.

Re:rounded corners? (3, Interesting)

Yetihehe (971185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253485)

Instead you need lawyers speaking in French, German and English. Which for Italian speaking inventors might be very expensive. Previously this wasn't required, because if someone wanted to have their patent valid in Italy, he had to translate it.

Re:rounded corners? (3, Funny)

foma84 (2079302) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253745)

I'm not a native English speaker, can you please rephrase that?

Re:rounded corners? (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253799)

You always had to submit translations into at least one of these three languages. Nothing new about that.

Re:rounded corners? (2)

Yetihehe (971185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253931)

But if you didn't submit translation in Italian, it wouldn't be valid in Italy. Now it will be.

Re:rounded corners? (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42254195)

Instead you need lawyers speaking in French, German and English. Which for Italian speaking inventors might be very expensive. Previously this wasn't required, because if someone wanted to have their patent valid in Italy, he had to translate it.

Unless you live in France or Germany, I'm pretty sure native+English would suffice just fine. Despite what the EU says about promoting language plurality in practice there's a massive shift of momentum towards English and a decline in both German and French as a foreign language. But I do see the lawyers making a small fortune on arguing whether patent X written in Italian is in fact prior art to patent Y written in English, fighting over linguistic details in legal documents is a fight only lawyers will win.

Re:rounded corners? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253495)

Needing dozens of teams of lawyers to manage dozens of different sets of rules is just not productive.

Not productive for whom? The patent holder, or the the lawyers?

Re:rounded corners? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254079)

Yes and no.

Yes: You probably will be able to buy such a patent.
No: EU will not handle patents in a sensible way.

Another sad day. EU seems to be giving up on a sensible approach to patents.

Obvious hoax (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253381)

This has got to be a hoax. I mean, news somewhere, ANYWHERE in the universe or in anyone's imaginations that DIDN'T get around-the-clock, eight-updates-an-hour coverage on Slashdot? Seriously, the trolls aren't even TRYING anymore if this is the best article they can come up with.

FSFE responds (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253403)

U.S.A. U.S.A. !! (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | about a year and a half ago | (#42256865)

Here we go! Having broken _our_ system here in the USA, we always find a way to break other systems worse than our own.

It's so much easier than fixing our own problems.

Dimming innovation at home? Make sure that it's freaking impossible in the lands of our competetors.

Now on to South America and Asia.

USA! USA!

So what's the word on software? (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253439)

Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

Re:So what's the word on software? (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253481)

Anything that can be distilled as "same as X, but on/with/in a computer" needs to go. That covers just about everything we object to.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

spikenerd (642677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253579)

That covers just about everything we object to.

Could you be a little more specific with your plural pronouns? I object to many things this does not cover.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253717)

Instead of an empty objection, how about you explain what you think it doesn't cover so that the rest of us might gain some useful insight?

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253763)

Fine. "That does cover almost everything we, as a whole, object to."

If you can't understand that, I can't help you. If you don't agree, fine. You're entitled to an opinion. However, you can't just say "nah uh!" and walk away. State how you disagree or move along.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | about a year and a half ago | (#42256043)

Anything that can be distilled as "same as X, but on/with/in a computer"

That doesn't cover "Killing bunnies with a blunt knife", but I still object to it. So the statement that above covers everything we object to is inaccurate. I think that's what GP meant. Your "fix" doesn't make it better :)

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42256197)

You have a patent on "Killing bunnies with a blunt knife"??

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42256313)

No, I got it first.
And it's not blunt; it's "rounded".

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42262225)

Over the Internet? on a mobile phone?

Re:So what's the word on software? (5, Informative)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253541)

Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

From the scarce information in the articles (and the FSFE response linked by this comment [slashdot.org] I conclude that it basically gives the European Patent Office the power to decide what is patentable. Which almost certainly means software patents will be possible.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253749)

The European Patent Office has always had the power to decide what is patentable. The last instance case law always has been produced by the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which itself is part of the EPO.

Centralization of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254357)

This is a perfect lesson on how centralization and consolidation of political power (i.e. coercive power) necessarily brings injustice. If you don't agree with the policy -- whatever that policy may be -- it's going to be a lot harder to escape it. If the policy is particularly destructive, it will be multiplied by orders of magnitude compared to a government which is contained.

Since this is slashdot, here's a car analogy. A decentralized political system is like a modern car with all the safety features. You can still get hurt, and even killed, but at least you have the airbags, anti-lock brakes, seatbelts, traction control, and so forth. But then, each step towards centralization of political power is like removing one of those safety features, until at total centralization you are riding in a death trap.

Re:Centralization of power (1)

James McGuigan (852772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42257323)

Decentralization is like riding in a car... more ways to crash or traffic jam with other cars... but at least if you see your broken or in need of repair... it may be expensive, but you can go out and fix it yourself (and hope everybody has fixed theirs)

Centralization is like riding on a train... trains all drive on the same tracks and to the same signals so can more faster and are less likely to individually crash... but there is only one train netwrork... but if something looks like it is broken all you have to wait to see if the train company chooses to fix it (maybe its a design choice)... but when it does crash everybody gets hurt

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42255091)

This should be clear [ffii.org] and was adopted by Parliament.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#42256979)

conclude that it basically gives the European Patent Office the power to decide what is patentable. Which almost certainly means software patents will be possible.

Does that trumps the 1974 convention that has been transposed in all EU member national laws, and that explicitly says software are not patentable? For now EU patent offices will gracefully grant you software patent, but courts will rule them invalid. Does that change?

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253699)

Software isn't patentable in the EU, or at least it wasn't under the European Patent Convention.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

pclminion (145572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42254099)

Careful, dude. There are a lot of things that "can be implemented in software" but are much better achieved in hardware. I see no reason to prevent patents on hardware simply because the problem being solved could also be solved by some (possibly very hokey, inefficient) software.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42255989)

Really? I'd like a example of that.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

pclminion (145572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42257681)

You want to implement memory protection on a CPU that has no MMU. You could implement this in software by putting the CPU into perpetual single-step mode, and intercepting all memory accesses to implement the MMU in software. But this will be many thousands of times slower than a hardware MMU.

Re:So what's the word on software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254167)

The software patents are staying. Learn to like it. Open source will also be targeted for patents so that we have a real software ecosystem instead of that duct tape and band-aid crap you are pushing for.

Re:So what's the word on software? (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42255121)

The EPO already allows some software patents. The only difference is that now they can do it legally.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42258687)

Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

But the problem isn't whether an invention is in hardware or software; that's a very artificial distinction when you have things like reconfigurable hardware and firmware about. The problem is exactly what you get when obvious patents are permitted. If a patent isn't advancing the state of the art substantively when it is published, it's ipso facto hindering innovation.

There's also a potential for problems with people trying to get patents on things where critical functional components are kept as commercial secrets. That's not a problem with patents themselves though. Secrets cannot and should not be protected from independent discovery.

Re:So what's the word on software? (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42267663)

Deciding what counts as obvious is very subjective, while deciding what counts as a software/mathematical patent can be done objectively, and will cover most of the obvious cases.

Let's socialize technology instead (4, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253479)

Here's an idea: All technology is property of the Government.

If you do something and decide to keep it trade-secret, the Government might decide it looks nice and they'll tear it down to figure out how it works, then publish it. If you submit it to the Government, they'll keep it secret. For like, 20 years. Worst of all, if the Government likes something and can't functionally figure it out, they might just show up and ask.

Patent submission is free. There is no patent court.

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253901)

Good that you said "technology" Because otherwise I would have seen you as one of those pro-ACTA lunatics who tell people one could "own" ideas, so he can use artificial scarcity on those ideas, to rip off people by taking money for mere copies without doing *any work whatsoever* in return. And since that is a crime, I would have to call you a criminal and a traitor and asked to hand in your geek card.

Nice that you didn’t.

But: Wouldn’t it be communism for the government to own all technology?

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254289)

But: Wouldn’t it be communism for the government to own all technology?

It's a bit like some of the ideas in communism, but why does that matter? It's not like any practical system could be communism-free. Anything that affects the whole population (laws, etc) is somewhat like communism.

If you mean the "communism" they practiced in the Soviet Russia, the answer is: no, it's not that kind of "communism".

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254869)

would definitely be a form of communism, but in reality all human invention is based off some other guy's work. Maybe we should own it as a group and let the crazy inventors just do their thing without these stupid barriers. Human progress without all the negatives ;) ?

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42255207)

Maybe no one should own it? It's an idea, it's not actually something physical you can put in your pocket and hide.

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254271)

Here's an idea: All technology is property of the Government.

Funny, that's how I've already felt for years, every time the government rips off more of my commercialized ideas!
Man, I'd love to have their budget, their power, and their retirement benefits!!!

Re:Let's socialize technology instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42255189)

Here is a better idea: End all kinds of patent.

If you want something secret to remain secret, use a freakin safe, or better yet a product that actually uses your idea.

That's my idea (0)

bbeesley (2709435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253503)

but I have demonstrated prior art on the concept of a socially unified patent system that covers geographic and ideological boundaries guess I need to look for a patent trolling firm to help me rake in the summary judgements

MPlayer? (1)

ipquickly (1562169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253511)

What effect will this have on MPlayer and other software that can playback patent encumbered codecs?

If we want something fixed we have to break it 1st (2)

Flipao (903929) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253539)

I honestly hope the patent wars continue to escalate until the only people making any money in the tech industry are the lawyers.

I hope things get so bad that when all is said and done, patent-mania makes tulip-mania look like a small price fluctuation.

Re:If we want something fixed we have to break it (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253683)

I honestly hope the patent wars continue to escalate until the only people making any money in the tech industry are the lawyers.

I hope things get so bad that when all is said and done, patent-mania makes tulip-mania look like a small price fluctuation.

Do you mean you want to turn the whole tech industry into SCO like IP zombies? are you insane? What we need patent and copyright reform, not a dark age.

Re:If we want something fixed we have to break it (2)

Flipao (903929) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253741)

Do you mean you want to turn the whole tech industry into SCO like IP zombies? are you insane? What we need patent and copyright reform, not a dark age.

Right now, there are people salivating at the concept of a free for all patent system, because they think a business model based exclusively on patent licensing is both lucrative and sustainable. At the same time there is a complete lack of action from lawmakers because right now the tech industry is thriving. It's not going to be until it costs more to license a patent than it does to make something out of it that people will come to their senses.

Re:If we want something fixed we have to break it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254065)

The cost of lawyers will simply be passed on to the consumer. Same thing happened with advertising: marketing has become so prevalent that everybody takes it for granted, but advertising costs a ton of money and companies just work that into the price of their products. Patent wars will simply result in big companies with lots of capital cornering the market, which means fewer choices of lower quality products all around, at higher prices. But the average person won't care because they won't even know/remember that it's possible to get better products at lower prices.

Re:If we want something fixed we have to break it (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42254285)

Nope. The cost of lawyers in the places that keep with this stupidity will be passed to consumers. Meanwhile the countries that ignore it, like China will keep gaining more and more space in the World market.

And so it begins... A new USPTO clone is born. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253589)

Wanna bet that's the actual point of this?

Including software “patents” and all that shit.

Hampering innovation (0)

epSos-de (2741969) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253625)

Hampering innovation is what the patents are doing by design.

The politicians say that the costs are going to be lower, which means that anyone can hamper innovation 80% cheaper now.
The politicians say that it is going to be easy to patent stuff, which means that anyone can hamper innovation faster.
The politicians say that the patents are going to be approved centrally, which means that the fees from patents are going to channeled to some guy who will be the head of the new patent approval organization.

Conclusion : It will be cheaper, easier and faster to transfer money to that new Unitary Patent Organization, that is so happy to take away the fees from other, existing patent organizations. From the outside, if just looks, as if the bureaucrats are fighting for bigger parts of the cake between themselves.

Patents on medicine and HIV cure (4, Interesting)

YurB (2583187) | about a year and a half ago | (#42253647)

A recent TED talk [ted.com] showed me how far patents can go. Patenting obvious things which give convenience is bad. But patenting something which saves lives is... I don't know apropriate word for this. But this is reality. And we must be changing that.

Re:Patents on medicine and HIV cure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254475)

The simple truth is that the very concept of intellectual property is indefensible on all moral and logical grounds. Each copyright and each patent is an assault on your right to do what you want and rightfully should be able to with your own real, tangible property, which is the only kind of property that can actually be reduced or taken; the privileges granted by intellectual property law can only be had at the expense of the property rights of everyone else.

That patent protection artificially contributes to the scarcity of goods like lifesaving medicines, thereby keeping unwell bodies from becoming whole again, is just icing on the putrid cake.

Re:Patents on medicine and HIV cure (-1, Troll)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42255745)

Devil's advocate: Life expectancy has doubled under the practice you have no name for..

Re:Patents on medicine and HIV cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42256339)

Your logic is flawed, life expectancy might have more than doubled without the patent system.

You pay one way or another, either pay for more publically funded research, or pay more in healthcare costs.

Life expectancy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42257857)

Devil's advocate: Life expectancy has doubled under the practice you have no name for..

Devilish indeed, especially if you don't mention that it's life expectancy in those part of the world well-fed what you are talking about.

Besides, the real breakthroughs, those bringing the proverbial 80 per cent came before this practice was in place.

Re:Life expectancy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42258825)

And most of the rest was just better implementations of those 80%, honed by time and practice.

another example: seeing in the fog (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about a year and a half ago | (#42259267)

Everyone knows that by using polarized light (with polarizers that must cost, say, €/$20 including all-weather ruggedization) and ordinary (cross-) polarized sunglasses, you can almost clearly see in the thickest of fogs.

This, is patented. A dozen times at least, in almost every country.

So, nobody develops it.

You still can build one device for yourself, by hand, if you wish. Nothing more.

Meanwhile, people die, daily, in the fog.

UE just follows the master (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42253767)

I am not surprised at all.

Fortunately UE brings to us lovely chicks to show the true culture of Southern Europe : video [youtube.com]

Is it good or bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254067)

Good - big corps, patent firms whine, whine, whine.
Bad - big corps, patent firms silent.

Software Patents! W00t!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42254257)

yeah, baby!!

Obligatory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42255501)

I filed a US patent on establishing a patent system that would span the EU. Can I sue?

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