September 21, 2006

Commission unable to answer MEPs on Patent Litigation Agreement

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Brussels, 21 September 2006 — Commissioner McCreevy proclaims blissful ignorance about the consequences of the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA). In a series of six non-answers to Members of the European parliament, the Commission reveals that until now it is unable to comment on cost, judicial independence, jurisprudence and treaty-related concerns. Meanwhile McCreevy keeps praising the virtues of said draft agreement.

The latest question filed by Marc Tarabella MEP noted that the current draft of the EPLA would allow the European Patent Office’s (EPO) Technical Boards of Appeal (TBAs) judges to preside European court cases. In their EPO function they introduced software patents in Europe, and as patent judge they could confirm this practice at the judicial level. Currently, software patents are rejected by most national judges.

Commissioner McCreevy’s answer consisted of a boiler plate text about the recently held patent policy consultation, and concluded with “The Community is not a party to the negotiations and can therefore not comment on this issue.”. Ten days earlier he nevertheless said in a speech that the EPLA needs Community involvement to be effective and that the process is actively approached by the Commission.

A question by Michel Rocard MEP about an analysis from the EPO showing significant cost increases for most court cases under the EPLA, was answered by McCreevy with “It is consequently not up to the Commission to analyse the cost structures under the EPLA”, a statement that contradicts the Commissioner’s message five days earlier when he said “[The EPLA] would offer valuable cost savings.”

All other questions asked by Rocard and Tarabella have been answered in a similar vain, with the Commission saying that it is either not in a position to answer or unable to comment. FFII president Pieter Hintjens points out that it is impossible to conduct an open and informed discussion with a Commissioner that deprives the European Parliament of facts and figures which he hands out elsewhere.

“We have had enough of hidden agenda politics, it’s time for the Commissioner to deliver some facts. The EPLA means higher costs for small businesses, and increased litigation risks. More US-style litigation is not the solution. We just need a better patent office”, he added.

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Contact

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03 (fixed)
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

Jonas Maebe
FFII board member
jmaebe at ffii.org
(Dutch/English)

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 850 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.