"[...] Globally speaking, this Forum gave the opportunity to the speakers and the audience to debate all the issues in depth, without the 'negotiating climate' of the SCP meetings where each intervention is the origin of hard debates; in this respect, this Forum was important and fruitful. [...]"
For more reports on the SCP Open Forum, see e.g. here and there.
Mr. Stallman Gives Keynote on "The Future of Free Software".
Mr. Stallman again and again is reiterating his attempts to wage a war on concepts. On March 18, 2006, he gave a keynote speech at a meeting about the drafting of GPLv3, "The Future of Free Software" in Turino, Italy. And his speech has not only been recorded in a video but has also been transcribed and then published on Groklaw. At the time being I shall quote here only a small portion of his introduction:
"[...] There is a term that some people use, which causes terrible confusion and should never be used, and that is the term 'intellectual property'. Now, I heard someone mention that term. I don't think he was explaining why that term should not be used.
It is devastatingly harmful to use the term 'intellectual property' because that term implies the existence of something which does not exist.
Copyright law exists. Patent law exists. They have almost nothing in common in terms of the requirements that they put on the public. Trademark law also exists. It has nothing in common with copyright law or patent law about what it requires of the public. So, the idea that there is some general thing which these are instances of already gets people so confused that they cannot understand these issues. There is no such thing. These are three separate unrelated issues, and any attempt to generalise about them guarantees confusion. Everyone who uses the term 'intellectual property' is either confused himself or trying to confuse you.
I came to this conclusion a few years ago and since then I have decided that I will never use that term. No exceptions. I will talk about why the term is confusing, because that's a useful thing to do, but I will never use that term. I never use it. I hope you will join me in making this firm policy of never using it. And if someone else says something about 'intellectual property', I will not respond directly to what he said without first explaining the confusion buried in it, because you see, the confusion buried in a statement is usually more harmful than whatever may be false that he actually tried to say.
The false premises, the false presuppositions are the most important problem. So, if someone makes a statement about intellectual property and some part of it is the specific point, which I might disagree with, the first thing I will say is why it's a mistake to talk about intellectual property at all, and then I will try to translate what he said into clearer terms, and then I might say if I agree with it or not. But that's secondary, and explaining to people the confusion in the term intellectual property itself is the most important thing to do.
There is a tendency to, we all have it, to follow other people in their choice of terminology. If someone says an outrageous thing and he uses the term intellectual property, you will feel drawn into responding in the same terms. So, learn to resist that temptation. [...]"
Come off it, Mr. Stallman. "Intellectual Property" does exist as long as there is something like "Intellectual Property Law". Of course, there are significant differences between Copyright, Patent, and Trade Mark Law. And there might well be reasonable doubts as to whether Trade Mark Law should be counted as Intellectual Property Law. Nobody would dare to deny that. But they have certain aspects in common. For example, they all relate to the law of the intangibles. It is a question of academic scholarship to decide on whether or not a term like "Intellectual Property Law" or "Private Law" or "Public Law" makes sense. It should not be misused for political warfare purposes.
It is clear, however, for what ultimative political objective Mr. Stallman tries to interfere with concepts well established since long for the classification of various areas of law: He wants to create semantic weapons to single out the Patent Law to be identified as the rotten apple of law while, at the same time, glorifying Copyright Law because of it appears to serve his aims. In Mr. Stallman' view, Copyright Law enables FSF to create and maintain something like the GNU GPL (which is, of course, a good thing because of he can try to leverage it to transform the world into a paradise of Knowledge Commons), whereas Patent Law is the basis of, in his view, ugly monopolies in particular but not only in the field of computer-related inventions.
Mr. Stallman is used to ignore the benefits of the Patent Law as well as the drawbacks of the Copyright system as we have it now. It appears to me as if he is not really interested in any academic truth-finding mission. He seems to be obsessed by his own political mission to transform the world on a large scale where he and his fellows have power to enforce a global Knowledge Commons, at the expense of more capitalistic market-oriented versions of a knowledge economy.
I do not at all put in question the merits Mr. Stallman had aquired by inventing the GPL many years ago as a novel business modell for creating, maintaining and distributing software. But universalising this particular approach up to the scale of a mandatory globalised knowledge economy entirely based on the Knowledge Commons guraded by GPLvX might do more harm than good.
"A new international treaty on trademarks, to be known as the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks in recognition of the country that hosted the final round of negotiations, was adopted on March 28, 2006 by member states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The new treaty concludes efforts by WIPO’s member states to update the 1994 Trademark Law Treaty (TLT) and bring it in line with the technological developments of the past decade.
In his message to the closing ceremony of the Diplomatic Conference for the Adoption of a Revised Trademark Law Treaty, WIPO Director General, Dr. Kamil Idris, said that March 27, 2006, "was an historic day" for WIPO and its member states. "A new intellectual property treaty has been adopted by the entire membership of the Organization. It marks a major milestone for WIPO and for the international intellectual property community. In establishing the Treaty, henceforth known in history as the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, the Governments of WIPO’s member states collectively send out a powerful message to all sectors of society across the globe. The message is that in the 21st century, where innovation and knowledge have emerged as a key factor of economic wellbeing, intellectual property has a central role to play in the new information society." He added "The Singapore Treaty, as the first international treaty in the field of intellectual property in the new century, reaffirms the importance of trademarks, one of the major forms of intellectual property, in promoting domestic and international trade and in enhancing enterprise development and consumer confidence."
Dr. Idris paid tribute to "the spirit of goodwill and mutual understanding of the negotiators throughout the past two and a half weeks. It is thanks to their joint efforts and commitment to intellectual property that the hard work has been crowned with success. The part played individually and collectively by the delegations, their readiness to share and accommodate each other’s concerns, have made the difference." He said "The successful outcome of the Diplomatic Conference is testimony to the common initiatives, collective wisdom and international cooperation of WIPO’s member states."
The Director General thanked the Government of Singapore for hosting the conference, and praised the President of the conference, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, for his able leadership in steering negotiations to a successful outcome. "That the delegations were able to focus all their attention on the negotiations at hand, untroubled by concerns about administrative details, is the merit of our host, the Government of Singapore," Dr. Idris said. "Through meticulous preparations and the provision of impeccable conference facilities, the host Government permitted the meetings and discussions to run smoothly and seamlessly. I am sure that I speak not only for the Organization but for its entire membership as well as all participants in the Conference when I say how indebted we are to the generosity, hospitality and friendship of the Government and people of Singapore," he added. In particular, the Director General singled out for special mention the Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore.
The diplomatic conference opened on March 13, 2006 and was slated to end on March 28, 2006. The positive atmosphere of the negotiations and a strong commitment to concluding the treaty resulted in negotiations ending three days ahead of schedule. The President of the Diplomatic Conference, Ambassador Burhan Gafoor, who is also Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization and the United Nations in Geneva, said this is a sign of commitment to enhancing the regulatory environment for the branded goods industry.
Commenting on the talks, Ambassador Gafoor said "I was impressed by the level of commitment shown by member states of WIPO to ensure a successful conclusion to the negotiations. The delegates worked hard, oftentimes meeting into the night, to ensure we had an outcome that was satisfactory to all parties. I believe this was because every delegate in the conference recognized the importance of the treaty; it will boost international trade and deliver an enhanced and harmonized trademark procedure that will benefit nations, brands and businesses. The consultations and discussions reflected the constructive spirit of cooperation and compromise among WIPO members. I would like to express my gratitude for all their efforts and perseverance, which made this treaty possible."
The conference was opened by Dr. Idris and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Law Professor S. Jayakumar (please see http://www.wipo.int/edocs/prdocs/en/2006/wipo_pr_2006_439.html). A total of 162 delegations representing WIPO member states as well as a number of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in the conference.
The Singapore Treaty deals mainly with procedural aspects of trademark registration and licensing. By agreeing to common standards in that area, member states create a level playing field for all economic operators that invest in branded goods. More than that, the Singapore Treaty creates a dynamic regulatory framework for brand rights. Due to the creation of an Assembly of the contracting parties, the Treaty has a built-in review mechanism for administrative details of a less order, although of great practical importance for brand owners.
The Treaty recognizes developments in the branded goods industry and marks a new approach to securing investment in product differentiation. Brands are no longer confined to stickers or labels on goods; today, the brand stands for the product’s identity. Creativity and investment goes into the development of brands, and it is vital for the industry to be able to secure that investment. New rules applicable to all types of trademarks, as contained in the Singapore Treaty, address those needs. The Singapore Treaty takes into account the advantages and potential of electronic communication facilities, while recognizing the varying needs of both developing and developed nations. During negotiations some developing and least developed states expressed concern about their ability to fully benefit from the Treaty. These discussions resulted in a firm commitment by industrialized countries to provide adequate technical assistance and other forms of support to strengthen the institutional capacity of those countries to enable them to take full advantage of the Treaty. [...]"
For details, see here. A list of the Conference Documets is available there. However, it does not look as if the final text would already be on-line.
Only Five Days Left: "On The Patent System in Europe".
I would like just to remind you that there are only five days left up to
March 31, 2006
for responding to the Consultation of the EU Commission "On the patent system in Europe". I think it is important that as many companies as possible (not only those briefed by the various groups of anti-patent campaigners) having stakes in Europe will participate.
Mr. Moglen is a professor of law and history of law at Columbia University, serves pro bono as General Counsel for the Free Software Foundation, and is the Chairman of Software Freedom Law Center.
"[...][Question:] Last year, the European Parliament rejected the software patent directive. Do you see this as a sign that the attitudes toward software patents are changing?
Moglen: (The rejection of the directive) was a great success in politicizing what had until then been a niche subject. It was an announcement that patents is something that politics should be about-like transport, health and education.
Is there a change in attitude towards patents? I don't know yet. In 50 years from now, or 100 years from now, the ownership of ideas is going to seem repugnant and the patent system won't exist anymore. But that is going to require a confrontation of cataclysmic proportions, from people who right now don't know anything about patents. [...]"
A "confrontation of cataclysmic proportions", what would that mean in practical terms?
"[...] The event is hosted by the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue, a forum of 65 consumer organisations from the European Union and United States, which acts a consultative body. There are some 100 participants and although civil society groups are heavily represented, the presence of various industry representatives is providing grist for debate [...]"
On March 21, Ms. Iren S. Gerhardsen provided another report with still further details on the proceedings in Brussels.
In the effect, there seems to be a split amongst participants over the future role of Intellectual Property quite across traditional party boundaries:
"[...] One of the underlying philosophical questions of the global IP debate that the conference is shedding light on is whether the debate may be divided into a left-right political issue. This is not the case, the moderator of one session concluded. [...]"
Some participants on the anti-IP side of the debate made perfectly clear that the current dispute is no longer deemed to be restricted to patents on computer-implemented inventions or biotechnology inventions. Mr. Krempl reported that Mr. David Hammerstein, a Member of the European Parliament, argued that the debate on software patents should be understood as a stepping stone towards a much wider discussion concerning the Knowledge Commons". Ms. Iren S. Gerhardsen reported on a contribution by Mr. Rufus Pollock of FFII UK:
"[...] Instead, [Mr. Rufus Pollock of FFII] said, intellectual property may be divided into roughly two camps: the rights holders and the general public, which both benefits from new work but also bears the cost and thus is the only group that has a balanced view. The problem, according to Pollock, is that the general public is poorly organised and poorly concentrated, as opposed to industry.
Pollock pointed out that 10-15 years ago when the TRIPS agreement was being discussed there was no public concern with intellectual property rights. But this is now starting to grow, and in 40 years, Pollock predicted, there will be an equivalent IP movement much as there is in the environment sector today with groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. This would create 'a far better balance' and 'only be a good thing for all,' Pollock said. [...]"
Obviously FFII is dreaming of becoming as large and powerful as, say, Greenpeace is now.
It appears to me that in future the business of IP will become more depending on a deep and concise understanding of the political underpinnings of IP Law. Patent Attorneys or company-based IP Counsels not closely watching (and contributing to) the present debates might be caught by surprise later on should major features of the IP landscape ever change substantially. It is not enough to be busy with authoring and filing more and more patent applications on behalf of clients. I would not be very much surprised if in future a variety of services related to provide guidance in navigating the IP maze to companies as well as to the general public would be much more important than they are today.
"The Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) awards a prize every year, in Alicante, to post-graduate students registered in Academic Centres, from the 25 Member States of the European Union, for outstanding work in the fields of Community Trade Marks and Designs.
A total of six prizes will be awarded this year. Each prize will consist of a cash sum of 2.500 euros, as well as a five month traineeship at the OHIM for the first two winners.
The programme has three main objectives:
Promoting and encouraging at university level, a better knowledge of Industrial Property Rights;
Fostering and deepening relations with European education institutions and research centres in the field of Industrial Propriety;
Encouraging students to acquire professional expertise in the fields of Community trade marks and designs.
Specific selection criteria establishing the conditions and requirements for participation in the Award programme have been laid down in the award Regulation.
Regulation governing the 'OHIM Annual Prize' for the best dissertation in the field of Community Trade Marks and Designs.
Application Form + Annex 1 : Assessment form and Annex 2 : Declaration."
"[...]On 2nd March, the Open Rights Group was invited to attend a seminar on the Gowers Review. The review, lead by Andrew Gowers and commissioned by the Treasury, is an extensive examination of intellectual property in the UK. We have been asked to submit written evidence and the seminar was the first step in that process.
I was there along with Rufus Pollock and we took as detailed a set of notes as possible. The text of Andrew Gowers speech has been provided by the Review office.
Overall, I think we heard pretty much what we expected to hear, particularly from the Patents panel. Industry was represented very well, alternative voices less so, but it was heartening to see Jill Johnstone from the National Consumer Council on the Copyright panel, putting forward the view of everyday people, and also Anthony Lilley from Magic Lantern who definitely has his head screwed on right. [...]"
Ms. Charman then provides a lot of details on the seminar.
- having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2005 on the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy,
- having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 April 2005 on the Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs 2005-2008,
- having regard to the Commission Communication of 20 July 2005 on Common Actions for Growth and Employment: The Community Lisbon Programme,
- having regard to the 25 national Lisbon reform programmes as presented by the Member States,
- having regard to the Commission Communication of 25 January 2006 entitled 'Annual Progress Report on Growth and Jobs',
- having regard to the European Council conclusions of March 2000, March 2001, March 2005 and October 2005,
- having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,
[...] 43. Stresses the need for reforming the current intellectual property rights legislation; notes that the cost of registering a patent in the EU varies between EURO 37 500 and EURO 57 000 while the same process only costs around EURO 10 000 in the USA and that the length and complexity of the patent procedures are major obstacles to small SMEs; calls on the Commission to ensure proper protection of intellectual property rights and to present as soon as possible a proposal for harmonisation and mutual recognition of patent laws in Member States to create greater legal certainty and promote innovation; [...]"
The important key phrase appears to be as follows:
"[...] calls on the Commission to ensure proper protection of intellectual prsoperty rights and to present as soon as possible a proposal for harmonisation and mutual recognition of patent laws in Member States to create greater legal certainty and promote innovation [...]"
This might well be seen as an attempt to weaken the position of the centralised European Patent Office (EPO) in favour of the busines of the national Patent Offices throughout the EU. I do not know for sure but there might be some inner link with the European Strategy Debate as mentioned earlier in this posting.
Anyway, the Motion was not rubber-stamped but got some amendmends. FFII and the well-known anti-patent campaigner Mr. Müller offered heavy critics to its gist, blaming Mr. Lehne MEP for, in his view, undue pro-patent influence:
"[...] While 'mutual recognition of patent laws' is a term that can be interpreted in different ways, there is no doubt what the sponsor of this article, Mr. Klaus Heiner Lehne MEP (a German conservative), has in mind: the mutual recognition of national patents by the EU member states.
I recently received a copy of a memorandum that he sent to some of his MEP colleagues on November 29, 2005, entitled ?Patent initiative for a new European patent law?. In the first part of the memo, he explains why he believes the negotiations between the EU member states on a proposal for an EU-wide community patent are at deadlock. [...]"
"[...] The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and Florian Mueller, the founder of the NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign, lobbied MEPs to vote against the related passage of a proposed resolution, stressing that the mutual recognition of national patents 'would result in a flood of patent suits all over Europe, lower quality standards, and ever more software patents', among other things because patent applicants would 'shop around' to find patent offices that are most willing to grant patents which would then be valid in the entire EU. [...]"
"[...] And I have excellent news from Strasbourg: A majority of MEPs voted against Lehne's mutual-recognition proposal!
After becoming aware of the proposed resolution on Monday, the FFII and I immediately informed our allies in the parliament. As a result, the Greens/EFA group introduced an amendment to the resolution, and that amendment would have replaced item 43 of the resolution with a new text. That other text would have called for a proposal for a community patent instead of mutual recognition. It would have been the lesser evil. That alternative item 43 fell through, but something even better happened:
At the request of the EPP-ED and ALDE groups, there was a so-called split vote on item 43. A split vote in the European Parliament means that a particular text is not put to the vote as a whole, but first there is a vote on the largest part of a proposed article, and then there are separate votes on controversial passages, such as individual words. In this case, there was a split vote on whether or not to include 'mutual recognition' in the resolution, and a majority voted against that insertion.
I'm so relieved. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if that call for a proposal for mutual recognition had gone through, but it would have been a disappointing start for us with respect to the EU's new patent policy initiative, and it would have had negative effects for the future.
Fortunately, a majority of MEPs shared our concerns that the mutual recognition of national patents by the EU member states would open the floodgates and result in widespread patent litigation all over Europe. What Lehne had in mind would have been contrary to the spirit of previous EP decisions on patent policy. While I still the text adopted today contains some propagandistic statements concerning patents that I dislike, it's pretty innocuous now. It just calls on the Commission to make a proposal for the harmonization of European patent laws, which I don't necessarily object to. [...]"
"[...] After we had alerted her yesterday to the problematic aspects of the original version of paragraph 43 of the proposed motion on innovation policy, Piia-Noora raised the mutual recognition issue in the group meeting and proposed to modify that article.
The solution she initially suggested would have been for the EPP-ED group to support amendment 31, which the Greens/EFA group filed late on Monday (also after we raised awareness). That amendment would have replaced the paragraph in question with a pretty innocuous one that had previously received the support of a majority of the European Parliament on December 15.
The solution for which the EPP-ED finally settled, and which from my perspective is near-perfect anyway, was a split vote on paragraph 43. Without the split vote, MEPs would have had to support paragraph 43 as a whole (take it over leave it). Thanks to the split vote, MEPs had the freedom to vote in favor of most of the text while making separate decisions on whether or not to insert certain words. The words ?mutual recognition? were put to such a vote, and a majority voted against. [...]"
What can be said in view of all this ado? Well, Mr Müller recently has made perfectly clear that his fight is not restricted to the realm of so-called "software patents" but aims to weaken the patent system in its entirety:
"[...] A 180-degree turn around from patent inflation must be the single highest priority in patent policy. In order for any patent policy initiative to credibly address the interests of innovation and of the economy at large, it must aim at a trend reversal concerning the annual number of patents issued, specifying future target numbers of new patents to be issued and laying out a strategy for reaching those targets. [...]"
It appears as if Mr. Müller acts up as the big reformer of the patent system but actually he merely intends to cripple it. In the European Parliament he again had quite a walk-over but the resolution of the Parliament has little or even no practical effect. This should not be overlooked. In the EU Council Mr. Müller's position might have fewer friends. From Document 7281/06 titled "Contribution of the Competitiveness Council to the Spring European Council 2006" we learn:
"[...] The completion of an effective legal framework at EU and international level for protecting intellectual property rights remains crucial. [...]"
Anyway, users and supporters of the patent system should well be on the qui vive. Ah, and please do not forget to prepare and file some constructive submission with the EU Commission in response to the open consultation process by
Mr. Larry Ellison: Linux and Other Open Source Projects Has Depended Heavily on the Support and Investment of Major IT Companies.
LinuxWorldreports that according to Oracle Chief Executive Officer Mr. Larry Ellison the success of Linux and other open source projects has depended heavily on the support and investment of major IT companies:
"[...] 'Open source becomes successful when major industrial corporations invest heavily in that open source project,' Ellison said at a Tokyo news conference. 'Every open source product that has become tremendously successful became successful because of huge dollar investments from commercial IT operations like IBM and Intel and Oracle and others,' he said. [...]
'There's a lot of romantic notions about open source,' Ellison said. 'That just from the air these developers contribute and don't charge. Let me tell you the names of the companies that developed Linux: IBM, Intel, Oracle -- not a community of people who think everything should be free. Open source is not a communist movement.'"
Perhaps Mr. Stallman should take notice accordingly. In fact, over the past twenty years FROSS has changed its nature from a more or less private spare time activity of individual programmers / developers to a commercial business model. This puts fierce anti-patent campaigning of some FROSS people into a different perspective.
It would be of some importance for the pro-patent side in the various disputes on the IP system as it stands today to recognise that not all commercial entities are in favour of the patent system as well as that not all relevant FROSS people are born adversaries of the patent system. The reality appears to be much more complex. The central concept might well be that of the "business model": Some companies have developed business models which they see endangered by patents. Others with different business models have embraced the patent system or at least have learnt to live with it. There surely is some grey scale between both poles. Perhaps the patent system favours some sorts of business models while discriminating against others. Whether you like it or not is, of course, a political question. But gurus with an ideological attitude should not be considered to resemble authorities.
What "Europe's largest internet hosting company"? Well, I would guess it is United Internet. They also appear to have sponsored nosoftwarepatents.com.
Many companies utilise the patent system in the context of their business model. Even if they use or rely on OSS. Some companies, however, seem to have taken a business decision to lobby against the patent system. It seems not to be very well understood in which ways companies with software-related product portfolios interact with the patent system. I think it clearly is not a dichotomy of a black-and-white model. IBM, on the one hand, is the best example for an OSS comapny embracing the patent system whereas United Internet, on the other hand, seems to represent the other end of the scale.
"[...] The possible further development of the patent protection system in Europe should not be taken as a cause for putting into question the substantive patent law as it is in force in Europe or the procedures for granting patents of the European Patent Office. [...]"
Consequently, the Institute does not see any cause for a political debate on principles concerning patent protection in view of ethical behaviour, protection of the environment, health protection, or freedom of information. According to the Institute, this also holds with regard to software and biotechnology.
Furthermore, the Institute complains on the lack of a patent litigation system comprising a (centralised) higher Court instance in order to facilitate harmonising various aspects of procedural patent law. But they insist on a decentralised system of Courts on the entry level.
The EU Community Patent as proposed with the common political approach is dismissed outright, and the EU Commission is asked to withdraw that proposal. In particular, the Institute is unhappy with the litigation arrangement under the EU Community Patent providing just one centralised Court. Also the language regulation under the Community Patent is considered to be inadequate.
According to the Institute, the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) should be enacted because of it is deemed to be able to facilitate harmonisation of case law on top of the case law of existing local courts.
The Institute does not support any EU Directive for further harmonising the law on patents in Europe.
Well, I had thought that with various recent posts I would have reported on all public IP consultations currently open. However, I was in error: There is still another UK consulation on Design Law. In order to precise, it is not a new consultation but it had failed due to lack of public response:
"[...] An informal consultation was carried out from 31 October 2005 to 12 January 2006 and the proposals in this consultation are informed by the responses to that consultation, and by comments made during the public consultation on the modernisation of the UK designs registration system . Despite using a range of means to alert customers to the fees proposals (including a notice on the front page of the Office's website), only six responses were received in respect of all registered designs fees. While we have considered all of the comments made in respect of the new fees, we are not confident that this low number of responses is necessarily a reflection of our whole customer base. [...]"
The consultation is now open until May 31, 2006. The objectives are as follows:
"2.1 The Patent Office seeks to achieve the following objectives through these proposals:
2.2 To provide the Office with a fee structure to enable the new designs registration system to be implemented on 1 October 2006.
2.3 To provide designers with a more flexible and affordable option for the registration of designs in the belief that making it easier to protect designs will act as a spur to innovation."
UK: Still Another Consultation - Relative Grounds for Refusal - The Way Forward
Public IP Policy Consultations seem to be very en vogue today, at least in the UK. I forgot to mention the following one:
"[...]1. This consultation document deals with the issues that surround the way in which we, the UK Trade Marks Registry, examine new trade mark applications on the basis of their potential conflict with earlier trade mark applications or registrations. A detailed explanation of the background to this matter, followed by a number of options to deal with the issues, is given below. [...]"
"[...] Today's edition of the Wall Street Journal includes an op-ed piece on the current state of patent law, entitled 'Patently Absurd.'
The article is an attack on all things patent. Don't worry, though. The Editors have determined the source of the problem - the lawyers.
Yep. It's all our fault.
Patent Trolls? Yep...our fault. The article has a clever description of the so-called patent troll problem that avoids use of the 'T' word while asserting a simple and disturibing message: small patent holders who don't commercialize their inventions don't deserve injunctive relief or even monetary damages when their patents are infringed. Their patent infringement lawsuits are 'dubious,' apparently simply because of their small size and lack of commercialization. This is a strong, anti-property rights position taken by the Journal that, sadly, comes as no surprise considering previous Journal articles regarding so-called trolls. [...]"
Mr. Buchanan comments:
"[...] What the article fails to mention is that lawyers, being the clever innovators that we are, have played a driving role in the current patent reform movement. The American Intellectual Property Law Association (largely a professional society for IP lawyers) played a key role in drafting the Patent Act of 2005, which the Journal article called "useful." Sure we have differing opinions on the need for reform and the structure of some proposals, but we, the lawyers, have played an important role in advancing the debate on an amazingly broad spectrum of sweeping changes to the law. As the magnifying glass has turned onto our corner of the law, we have not shyed away. Rather, we have grabbed the handle and helped with the review. Introspection is always difficult, but I believe we can be proud of our efforts thus far, despite the uninformed criticisms of others."
There seems to be nothing to add.
[UPDATE] 2006-03-02 Nothing to add? Uh, er, perhaps this, that, and here.
"[...] CTM Input/Output: Just over 64.000 CTM applications were received in 2005, including 5.814 applications received through the Madrid Protocol. This total number exceeds the overall estimate of 55.000 applications originally foreseen by the Office, and is 10% more than the 58.902 CTM applications received in the year 2004. Electronically filed applications represented 29% of the total amount of CTM filings over the twelve months of 2005, as opposed to 21% in the previous year. However, this figure was 66% in the last quarter of the year, following the fee reduction for electronically filed CTM applications. [...]"
The quote of electronically filed applications appears quite remarkable to me. It might confirm my theory that with trade mark applications electronic filing procedures are much easier to implement and to use than with patent applications because of, from an IT point of view, trade mark applications are simpler data objects compared to patent applications.
"[...] RCD Input/Output: The registered Community design side of OHIM's work exceeded expectations in all areas, with the total number of designs filed at the Office reaching almost 64.000. This is 8.700 more designs than forecast, and tops the 2004 amount by 19%. Design applications also increased in the year 2005, with an 18% rise from 14.051 in 2004 to 16.620. [...]
Conclusion: On the whole, the Office has experienced a substantial increase in the total numbers of CTMs and RCDs filed in the year 2005, both in terms of the Office management's initial expectations and in comparison with the previous year. The use of electronic filing has been particularly high for CTMs, especially in the last quarter of 2005.
It has also achieved substantial improvements in the time taken to undertake many of the processes in the registration procedures, especially in the area of issuing receipts for e-filed applications, Absolute Grounds examination, the publication of CTM applications and the time taken to register the CTM from the date of reception.
However, the time taken to issue receipts for CTM applications filed by fax or mail has been longer than expected. The Office hopes to achieve better results over the coming year.
As regards decisions by the Boards of Appeal, their fewer number in 2005 is to be attributed to several factors among which the fact that a legislative change augments the time of the inter partes procedure (expressly allowing a double exchange of written submissions by both parties which can mean an additional 6 months).
Therefore inter partes cases have been comparatively few before the rapporteurs. The average time to decide on a case has, however, come down significantly in the Boards in 2005 (from 8.4 months in the last quarter of 2004 to 5.2 months end of 2005). The year 2006 will therefore be a challenging one for the Boards as the inter partes cases will become ready for decision in important numbers that will come to the rapporteurs in a big wave. Maintaining an acceptable time for decision will be challenging and will require the Boards to take a number of decisions that is significantly higher than last year.
The improvements experienced between 2004 and 2005 are undoubtedly due to the increased effort and output of the Office staff, and further advances in the same direction can be expected in the year 2006. "
"[...] After withdrawal of the sole appeal, the proceedings may not be continued with a third party who intervened during the appeal proceedings.[...]"
See also Decision of Technical Board of Appeal 3.3.07 dated 30 June 2005 T 474/04 – 3.3.07:
"[...] If assertions made in an unsworn witness declaration ('eidesstattliche Versicherung') remain contested, as a rule a request from a party to hear the witness must be granted before these assertions are made the basis of a decision against the contesting party. [...]"
"[...] The Government has asked me to lead an independent review to examine the UK's intellectual property framework. Intellectual property is crucial to the success of knowledge-based industries, which are increasingly important for the UK's economic competitiveness in the global economy. The IP framework must balance the need to encourage firms and individuals to innovate and invest in new ideas and creative works with the need to ensure that markets remain competitive and that future innovation is not impeded.
The Review will examine whether improvements could be made to the UK's existing IP framework, especially in the context of rapid technological change and globalisation. The Review will report to the Chancellor, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for culture, Media and Sport in Autumn 2006, with targeted and practical policy recommendations as appropriate.
I am committed to ensuring that the Review is an open process that takes full account of the views of its stakeholders. As such, I am writing to invite you or your organisation to submit evidence to the Review team. This letter is being sent to all those who have already contacted us through our website, and a large number of key contacts across a range of industry sectors, including scientific, high-tech, manufacturing, media and creative industries, as well as public sector and third sector bodies, relevant industry associations, inventors' bodies, consumer groups, experts in corporate finance and venture capital, the legal profession, and leading economists and other academics in the field. This letter is also available on the Review website www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/gowers.
In the accompanying paper, I have outlined the issues on which I would particularly like to hear your views and supporting evidence, though please raise other issues if you wish. I recognise that responding to this call for evidence may be an onerous task, but please note that you need not respond to those issues which are not relevant to you. Your input will be of great value to the Review team and the evidence submitted in response to this letter will help to shape the direction that our work takes during the coming months.
We would be grateful if you could send your submission to the Review team by Friday 21 April 2006. I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your input into this important work. [...]"
This is surely not only a big but a major look into today's IP landscape, and I expect that it might perhaps even exert some influence well beyond the borderlines of the United Kingdom.
It should be well noted that in earlier times during the 20th Century, the UK policy on IP matters has been influenced by three major reports, namely the PLG report of 1965, the report of the Banks Committee published in 1970, and by the White Paper of 1975.
In this context I would like to remind the readers of my Blog that the Consultation of the EU Commission "On the patent system in Europe" is open until March 31, 2006. I think it is important that as many companies as possible having stakes in Europe will participate. Participating multinational companies having their headquarters outside the EU but with substantial workforce in Europe will surely be bashed by anti-patent and anti-globalisation campaigners but such noises should simply be ignored. I am confident that the EU Commission will also take notice of the view of such companies in an appropriate manner. It is, however, most important that the EU Commission will not suffer drowning in thousands of repeated e-mail complaints originated by well-organised and networked anti-patent campaigners without seeing any counterweights from companies not being part of the anti-patent campaining scene.