On 30 May in Cyprus, Commissioner McCreevy said that:
We are working with governments and businesses across the European Union to secure agreement to a Community patent, which would grant innovators IP protection throughout the single market.
But cynics will recognise the now well-established bait-and-switch tactic where friends of software patents first stress the need for a Community Patent to promote innovation in Europe (a noble but naive idea based on the laughable theory that the European Patent Office actually grants high-quality patents instead of pig slop). McCreevy does not disappoint, making the ComPat-to-EPLA switch:
We are also working to establish a unified jurisdictional system for litigating patents in Europe. Such a system should bring more legal certainty. It should also simplify the patent litigation landscape and render the patent system more attractive to users.
Hint: "litigation" is the sign of a failed system, and the tool by which monopolists like Microsoft try to control free markets. When McCreevy starts to propose any step - no matter how small - that reduces scope for litigation rather than increases it, he will get our support. McCreevy, if you want to promote the Lisbon goals, and not just keep Microsoft happy, how about helping European SMEs? It's SMEs, not convicted monopolists, that actually promote innovation. And honest hard-working SMEs do not care about litigation except in the same way as they care about death, taxes, and the plague.
Let's be very clear about this. The patent system does deliver certainty in litigation. The vast majority of patent cases happen in Germany or the UK, and a decision in either of these courts effectively rules across Europe. There is no uncertainty. A centralised litigation system would, however:
- Create an opportunity for back-door 'harmonisation' on EPO case law, thus software patents.
- Increase litigation costs by 2-5 times or more.
- Increase the risk of doing business for small IT firms.
- Give the patent industry a point of control over all EU technology sectors.
- Make the monopolists and cartels very, very happy.
All this has been tested in the US with the Circuit of Appeals of the Federal Circuit (CAFC), a unified patent litigation system that turned the US patent system into a sick and very costly joke.
Monopolists or SMEs? Patent industry or technology industry? McCreevy, it seems, has made his choice. Let's hope the European member states have more sense, and flush the abominable idea of "unified jurisdictional system for litigating patents in Europe" into the sewers where it belongs.