October 1, 2007

France confirms its position against EPLA

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Paris, 1st October 2007 — Wednesday afternoon, during the adoption of the London Protocol to simplify patent translations, a number of deputies raised serious concerns regarding EPLA, the European Patent Litigation Agreement.

Former Minister of Justice, M. Pascal Clément was the first to criticize the EPO’s plan: “France runs the risk of entirely abandoning its sovereignty over the matter of patents, to the benefit of a structure which would not even be part of the European Community.”

“Insofar as we want a Community jurisdiction [for patents], we reject the EPLA proposal without question”, added M. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Secretary of State, who recommended “the creation of a true Community patent as well as the start of negotiations to turn the European Patent Office into a proper and efficient political institution.”

Alain Claeys, deputy of the socialist group, expressed his concern about software patents: “The challenge for France is to avoid patents turning into supermarket products. A patent serves to protect an innovative technique, precisely described. The danger today is the trend of more and more patenting – in domains such as software – of knowledge, not innovation. France and Europe have a fight here. If this trend continues, it will allow unfair long-term rents that will penalise our laboratories and small-to-medium businesses.”

FFII France endorses these comments but highlights that EPLA is also about costs: “EPLA will raise the cost of patent litigation in the same way as a centralised patent court raised costs in the US, to the disadvantage of small businesses that won’t be able to defend themselves.”

The EFPIA, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, warned the European Commission on this point during its hearing on the future of the European Patent System of July 12th 2006: “If most patents are in practice enforced in only one jurisdiction, then mandatory litigation in a centralised court will only increase costs without discernible advantage”.

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Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03
+32-484-566109
bhenrion@ffii.org
(French/English)

About the FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in over fifty countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and 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.