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EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System

By rajivvarma in News
Mon Feb 28, 2000 at 02:25:00 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

From brittanica.com comes a story saying that the European Union will be designing a patent system not-unlike the United States'. The USPTO has not handled patent cases/requests well here in the US, so it will be interesting to see how the Europeans do it.

The European Commission intends to publish plans within months for a new European patent system which would allow firms to protect their inventions throughout the European Union, a senior Commission official said on Monday


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EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System | 6 comments (6 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Given the furor over patents in the... (2.00 / 2) (#1)
by Demona on Mon Feb 28, 2000 at 01:10:49 PM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

Given the furor over patents in the united states as of late, this is very timely and worthy of discussion.

Re: EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System (2.00 / 1) (#2)
by fvw on Mon Feb 28, 2000 at 07:04:01 PM EST

While I don't really know how the US patent system works, I'd like to make the obvious comment here:
Let's hope they get someone more capable for judging what's allowed to be patented etc.

Re: EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System (3.00 / 1) (#3)
by rusty on Mon Feb 28, 2000 at 09:54:27 PM EST

I know a bunch of patent examiners (right JDogg?), and they're not stupid people. The problem, as I see it, is that the bureaucratic culture over there doesn't really promote careful evaluation. The criteria they actually use to judge patent applications are not what we would expect or desire they'd use. It has much more to do with the number of applications submitted, and whether or not anyone else has applied for the same patent, than it has to do with whether or not the patent makes sense.

Besides this, patent examiners are not necessarily (I would say not even usually) experts in the field they're examining for. Basically, it's the implementation that's screwed up, not the theory. Someone needs to clean house over there, and start making some approval guidelines that make sense.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Unification, partial "reform" (none / 0) (#4)
by kmself on Tue Feb 29, 2000 at 05:44:29 AM EST

The story as I read it has two components. The first is to unify the patenting process across the EU. To a certain extent this is probably a good thing, it's the same sort of rationalization/unification behind the EU as a whole. The analog would be if the US patent system were set up on a state-by-state basis and someone said "Golly gee, why don't we federalize the patent system!".

The undertone is, though, that the Eurpean patent system is slowing down registration of patents. I'll assume this is independent of the rate of invention in Europe. This is troubling, because it implies that what Europe would like to do is to get on a fast track, registering patents more quickly.

While this doesn't directly affect citizens of the US (patents are national, not international, in scope), it does impact free software to the extent that much of it is developed in Europe, and there will be fewer safe-havens for development unencumbered by patent.

I've been kicking around ideas regarding patents and free software for quite a while. While it's clear that there are problems, it's interesting that they're not larger (there hasn't yet been a major case involving free software patent infringement claims), but the solution(s) aren't clear, and everyone's pretty testy about the situation.

And an interesting teaser tidbit: WRT patent royalty revenues -- IBM is known to take in over $1 billion annually (I've heard $1.5 cited). But very, very little of that comes from software patents, according to a senior researcher at their RTP center.

Karsten M. Self
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Differences in patenting systems (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by PrettyBoyTim on Tue Feb 29, 2000 at 11:59:55 AM EST

One of the big differences between the US patenting system and the UK one (I'm not sure about the rest of Europe) is that in the UK, the date that goes down on the patent is the date that it was filed, rather than the date on which the invention was first documented.

On another note, I was reading in the New Scientist that the European patent office is having severe staffing problems, - I think some of the employees are now working to rule to protest at it, as they feel that they no longer have enough time per patent to ensure that only fair patents are granted.

Re: EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System (none / 0) (#6)
by Paul Dunne on Tue Feb 29, 2000 at 05:46:25 PM EST

> "Intellectual property rights have jumped from five percent to 35
> percent of balance sheets of companies in the United States. In Europe
> it is much less than that," Stoll said.
Trans: "They're doing it in the States, so we've got to do it too". Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

The last thing the world needs is another copyright system designed to give corporations more control over stuff they make oodles of money from already. The recent (well, fairly recent, like er, last few years) changes to the copyright laws on books (extending the period before texts become public domain from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author, as I recall) are another example of this trend. The writer scraps a living; the corporation lives off him after he's dead -- and yeah, and they toss a few peanuts to his descendents, if he managed to raise a family on his "royalties". Great.

Another point. The US patent system was designed to both protect the individual inventor, and ensure that society was able to benefit from his invention. This system breaks down when inventors are no longer individuals or small companies, but large corporations who in any case don't depend on innovation for their profits.

EU Aims to Create US-Style Patent System | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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