December 11, 2006

FFII President says current patent system not sustainable

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Brussels, 11 December 2006 — At the pan-European IP Summit in Brussels last week, FFII President Pieter Hintjens warned that growing imbalances were putting the entire patent system at risk. His comments were echoed in Gowers’ report issued by Britain’s Treasury, which called for a new balance between patent holders and the public.

Hintjens called on the patent industry to stop promoting proposals that make things worse and to take five key actions that he said were necessary to create a sustainable patent system: to stop the polemics, to resolve conflicts of interest, to seek appropriate models, to return to basics, and to undertake constructive dialogue.

Hintjens is skeptical of the European Patent Office’s plans to create a new European Patent Court: “This plan assumes all is well with the patent system except that litigation is too costly. It ignores the deeper problems, and if implemented, would be start of the end of the patent system in Europe. Anyone who makes their living from patents (not to mention those who don’t wish to see further expansion of the patent system) should be deeply concerned with this proposal.”

“It’s easy for the patent industry to focus on the champagne and success stories. But there are deeper problems and these are getting worse as we speak: the evaporation of patent quality, the growth of for-profit patent administrations, the schisms between different industries who struggle to share a single patent model, the creation of vast patent thickets, the loss of product-driven innovation in many areas, mounting litigation, and an increasing loss of public and political support for the entire patent system”, he explains.

He warns that “when an entire industry, no matter how wealthy, starts to lose public and political support, it can rapidly find itself at the sharp end of politically forced reforms. The patent industry is vulnerable because of its claims to be driving economic growth. When economies slow – as the US economy is doing – such claims start to look very hollow, and people start to wonder: if the patent industry does not drive economic growth, what exactly does it do, and for whom?”

Contact information

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
+32-484-566 109
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/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.