September 28, 2006

IT Industry Association warns MEPs about dangers of proposed European patent courts

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Brussels, 28 September 2006. The US-based Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) sent a letter to all MEPs warning them of the dangers of a new system of patent courts proposed under the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA).

“EPLA’s supporters are experts in obtaining patents, not innovation,” observed Mark Webbink, Deputy General Counsel for Red Hat, a CCIA member.

“European policy makers are being asked to follow the U.S. model – a specialized patent appeals court – unadvised of the problems the U.S. model has created, especially for producers of software and information technology,” warned Ed Black, President and CEO of CCIA.

CCIA has been critical of the US Federal Circuit for making patents easy to get, easy to assert, more potent, and available for any subject matter. It has become virtually impossible for innovators in information technology to avoid inadvertent infringement, while patent litigation has grown astronomically expensive.

While litigation in Europe is generally not as costly as in the United States, EPO figures show that cost would likely grow under EPLA. Webbink warned: “All this is bad news for small firms who already lack the resources to avoid infringement or defend themselves against the rising tide of patent trolls.”

Benjamin Henrion of the FFII, reporting from Strasbourg, says: “EPLA is being proposed by patent-expert MEPs and by the Commission as the answer to our patent problems, without full study or explanations. Most MEPs I’ve talked to have no idea they’re being asked to support the creation of a new non-EU institution”.

FFII President Pieter Hintjens concludes: “EPLA is a very bad idea: it raises costs for business, it creates a new non-EU institution, it removes the patent system from judicial and legislative control, and it opens the door to a new flood of bad patents, which make money only for patent experts. We do not need new patent courts – we need a better patent office.”

Background

Contact

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-2-414 84 03 (fixed)
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
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.