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New EU-Wide Patent System Approved 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the resubmit-your-claim-for-every-two-hundred-miles-travelled dept.
Dupple writes "There's a two page article over on IT World detailing a new patent system passed by the European Parliament that will unify the patent process across most countries in the EU. Quoting: 'Parliament adopted all three proposed regulations needed to form the new patent system on Tuesday: the regulation on a Unitary Patent, the language regime and the formation of a new unified patent court system. Not all European Union member states want a part in the new system: Italy and Spain refused to participate, although they may join at any time. The new system will cut the cost of obtaining a patent in the participating countries by up to 80 percent, the Parliament said. The patents will be made available in English, French and German and applications will have to be made in one of those three languages. Not everyone was pleased with the newly adopted regulation though. MEPs opposing the adopted text are concerned the new system is going to be bad for innovation and business, and by voting for the text, the Parliament is giving away powers, they said. The new regulation "means the European Parliament will abdicate all its political powers to an organization ... that is outside of the E.U.," said Christian Engström, Pirate Party member of parliament, adding that he still wanted a European patent as long as it did not hamper innovation as he believes the proposal in its current form does.'"
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New EU-Wide Patent System Approved

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  • rounded corners? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:34PM (#42253281) Homepage
    Does this mean I can get the EU patent on rounded corners?

    joking but seriously I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there.
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:37PM (#42253319) Homepage Journal

      but seriously I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there

      Don't hold your breath. The patent system worldwide is in desperate need of reform, but every change we've seen so far has been in favor of moneyed interests and against people who actually do hard intellectual work. Both of TFAs are frustratingly light on details, but honestly I'll be kind of shocked if the new system doesn't follow that trend.

      • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:45PM (#42253399) Journal

        Both of TFAs are frustratingly light on details

        But there is a mention of a Pirate Party member being against it. I think this is a good indication that the change is not for the better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TapeCutter (624760)

          But there is a mention of a Pirate Party member being against it. I think this is a good indication that the change is not for the better.

          I have nothing against the PP I think they (like many politicians) have genuinely good intentions but the reality is they are single issue ideolgical perfectionists just like their sworn enemies. It's said that "perfection is the enemy of progress", the fact that a PP politician doesn't like this new system does not really indicate that's it's any better or worse, it just indicates it doesn't perfectly align with his ideology. The majority of politicians who actually make the descisions are not single issue

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            That's unfair. Many of the Pirate Parties are pretty damned flexible on the issues they care about and are generally not striving for an absolute extreme (such as abolishment of copyright law, patents, trademarks, and data protection laws). They may seem extreme because their ideal position is so far from the current state of affairs.

            Example: If a major party decided to push for a reduction of copyright to, say, 40 years, I think they would receive a lot of support from the Pirate Party (who themselves wo

      • by SirGarlon (845873)
        Well, defending a patent on something as stupid as rounded corners is probably very hard intellectual work, but it's not *productive.*
        • Well, defending a patent on something as stupid as rounded corners is probably very hard intellectual work, but it's not *productive.*

          Heh. I wasn't thinking about defending patents so much as coming up with patentable material in the first place--and thinking "hey, we should round off those corners" is not hard work by any reasonable definition.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Heh. I wasn't thinking about defending patents so much as coming up with patentable material in the first place--and thinking "hey, we should round off those corners" is not hard work by any reasonable definition.

            Except there never was a patent on rounded corners. Look it up.

            FIrst, it starts with a "D". It means it's not a utility patent (one the describes how to do something), it's a design patent. The rules are completely different, and other than the word "patent" are completely unrelated pieces of IP.

            Ba

            • by ganjadude (952775)
              I am very aware of the situation at hand.

              as a /. reader you would think that you would know a joke when you see one by now
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      I hope that they have some kind of common sense approach over there.

      Unlikely. But at least it will be the same patent in a lot more countries. Needing dozens of teams of lawyers to manage dozens of different sets of rules is just not productive.

      • Re:rounded corners? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Yetihehe (971185) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:53PM (#42253485)

        Instead you need lawyers speaking in French, German and English. Which for Italian speaking inventors might be very expensive. Previously this wasn't required, because if someone wanted to have their patent valid in Italy, he had to translate it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by foma84 (2079302)
          I'm not a native English speaker, can you please rephrase that?
        • You always had to submit translations into at least one of these three languages. Nothing new about that.
          • by Yetihehe (971185)

            But if you didn't submit translation in Italian, it wouldn't be valid in Italy. Now it will be.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Instead you need lawyers speaking in French, German and English. Which for Italian speaking inventors might be very expensive. Previously this wasn't required, because if someone wanted to have their patent valid in Italy, he had to translate it.

          Unless you live in France or Germany, I'm pretty sure native+English would suffice just fine. Despite what the EU says about promoting language plurality in practice there's a massive shift of momentum towards English and a decline in both German and French as a foreign language. But I do see the lawyers making a small fortune on arguing whether patent X written in Italian is in fact prior art to patent Y written in English, fighting over linguistic details in legal documents is a fight only lawyers will wi

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Needing dozens of teams of lawyers to manage dozens of different sets of rules is just not productive.

        Not productive for whom? The patent holder, or the the lawyers?

  • FSFE responds (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:46PM (#42253403)
    • Here we go! Having broken _our_ system here in the USA, we always find a way to break other systems worse than our own.

      It's so much easier than fixing our own problems.

      Dimming innovation at home? Make sure that it's freaking impossible in the lands of our competetors.

      Now on to South America and Asia.

      USA! USA!

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:49PM (#42253439) Homepage

    Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

    • by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:52PM (#42253481) Homepage Journal

      Anything that can be distilled as "same as X, but on/with/in a computer" needs to go. That covers just about everything we object to.

      • by spikenerd (642677)

        That covers just about everything we object to.

        Could you be a little more specific with your plural pronouns? I object to many things this does not cover.

        • Instead of an empty objection, how about you explain what you think it doesn't cover so that the rest of us might gain some useful insight?

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Fine. "That does cover almost everything we, as a whole, object to."

          If you can't understand that, I can't help you. If you don't agree, fine. You're entitled to an opinion. However, you can't just say "nah uh!" and walk away. State how you disagree or move along.

          • by jimshatt (1002452)

            Anything that can be distilled as "same as X, but on/with/in a computer"

            That doesn't cover "Killing bunnies with a blunt knife", but I still object to it. So the statement that above covers everything we object to is inaccurate. I think that's what GP meant. Your "fix" doesn't make it better :)

    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#42253541) Journal

      Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

      From the scarce information in the articles (and the FSFE response linked by this comment [slashdot.org] I conclude that it basically gives the European Patent Office the power to decide what is patentable. Which almost certainly means software patents will be possible.

      • The European Patent Office has always had the power to decide what is patentable. The last instance case law always has been produced by the Enlarged Board of Appeal, which itself is part of the EPO.
      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        conclude that it basically gives the European Patent Office the power to decide what is patentable. Which almost certainly means software patents will be possible.

        Does that trumps the 1974 convention that has been transposed in all EU member national laws, and that explicitly says software are not patentable? For now EU patent offices will gracefully grant you software patent, but courts will rule them invalid. Does that change?

    • by pclminion (145572)
      Careful, dude. There are a lot of things that "can be implemented in software" but are much better achieved in hardware. I see no reason to prevent patents on hardware simply because the problem being solved could also be solved by some (possibly very hokey, inefficient) software.
      • by erroneus (253617)

        Really? I'd like a example of that.

        • by pclminion (145572)
          You want to implement memory protection on a CPU that has no MMU. You could implement this in software by putting the CPU into perpetual single-step mode, and intercepting all memory accesses to implement the MMU in software. But this will be many thousands of times slower than a hardware MMU.
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The EPO already allows some software patents. The only difference is that now they can do it legally.

    • by dkf (304284)

      Software patents have got to go. And with them, inventions that "can be implemented in software" also need to go. I saw nothing in either link talking about software patents.

      But the problem isn't whether an invention is in hardware or software; that's a very artificial distinction when you have things like reconfigurable hardware and firmware about. The problem is exactly what you get when obvious patents are permitted. If a patent isn't advancing the state of the art substantively when it is published, it's ipso facto hindering innovation.

      There's also a potential for problems with people trying to get patents on things where critical functional components are kept as commercia

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Deciding what counts as obvious is very subjective, while deciding what counts as a software/mathematical patent can be done objectively, and will cover most of the obvious cases.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:52PM (#42253479) Journal

    Here's an idea: All technology is property of the Government.

    If you do something and decide to keep it trade-secret, the Government might decide it looks nice and they'll tear it down to figure out how it works, then publish it. If you submit it to the Government, they'll keep it secret. For like, 20 years. Worst of all, if the Government likes something and can't functionally figure it out, they might just show up and ask.

    Patent submission is free. There is no patent court.

  • What effect will this have on MPlayer and other software that can playback patent encumbered codecs?

  • by Flipao (903929) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @03:59PM (#42253539)
    I honestly hope the patent wars continue to escalate until the only people making any money in the tech industry are the lawyers.

    I hope things get so bad that when all is said and done, patent-mania makes tulip-mania look like a small price fluctuation.
    • I honestly hope the patent wars continue to escalate until the only people making any money in the tech industry are the lawyers.

      I hope things get so bad that when all is said and done, patent-mania makes tulip-mania look like a small price fluctuation.

      Do you mean you want to turn the whole tech industry into SCO like IP zombies? are you insane? What we need patent and copyright reform, not a dark age.

      • by Flipao (903929)

        Do you mean you want to turn the whole tech industry into SCO like IP zombies? are you insane? What we need patent and copyright reform, not a dark age.

        Right now, there are people salivating at the concept of a free for all patent system, because they think a business model based exclusively on patent licensing is both lucrative and sustainable. At the same time there is a complete lack of action from lawmakers because right now the tech industry is thriving. It's not going to be until it costs more to license a patent than it does to make something out of it that people will come to their senses.

  • by YurB (2583187) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @04:13PM (#42253647)
    A recent TED talk [ted.com] showed me how far patents can go. Patenting obvious things which give convenience is bad. But patenting something which saves lives is... I don't know apropriate word for this. But this is reality. And we must be changing that.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The simple truth is that the very concept of intellectual property is indefensible on all moral and logical grounds. Each copyright and each patent is an assault on your right to do what you want and rightfully should be able to with your own real, tangible property, which is the only kind of property that can actually be reduced or taken; the privileges granted by intellectual property law can only be had at the expense of the property rights of everyone else.

      That patent protection artificially contributes

    • Everyone knows that by using polarized light (with polarizers that must cost, say, €/$20 including all-weather ruggedization) and ordinary (cross-) polarized sunglasses, you can almost clearly see in the thickest of fogs.

      This, is patented. A dozen times at least, in almost every country.

      So, nobody develops it.

      You still can build one device for yourself, by hand, if you wish. Nothing more.

      Meanwhile, people die, daily, in the fog.

Never make anything simple and efficient when a way can be found to make it complex and wonderful.

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