Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The last racists in Europe, patent people?

The IAM blog had some intense comments about quotes attributed to SAS's Kalliopi Spyridaki which appeared in the article Is the demand for patents stifling reform? by Paul Meller in Science Business:

“We file only in the US, for reasons including the cost of filing and litigation in Europe as well as the complexity of the system here. Within the EU patent reform, it will be important to consider mechanisms to ensure high-quality patents,” said Kalliopi Spyridaki, EU affairs manager at SAS.

with IAM stating:

Software patent protection is hard to get in Europe, but it is not impossible. To rule it out on the basis of expense is ridiculous. First of all because however much it costs to obtain a patent via the EPO, or national patent offices in Europe, that amount is insignificant when compared to the potential loss of market share a decent patent could guard against. As for the point about enforcement, it is just not true. Even in Europe's most expensive jurisdiction, the UK, it is very unlikely to cost more than £1 million ($1.5 million) to litigate a case. In Germany, France and Italy you are looking at perhaps $200,000 to $300,000 at the most. In the US, the latest I saw was that on average getting a first instance decision in a big case will give you little change from $5million. In other words, SAS could litigate a case in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, probably throw in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands, and still spend less than it would cost to litigate in the United States.

The reference to -- high-quality patents -- evokes memories of Cecil Quillen. Of course, Quillen said Europe had higher quality patents than did the US.

Another intense quote in the Science Business article-->

[Bruno] Vandermeulen went further, suggesting that the inertia shows that Europe’s patents community comprises “the last racists in Europe”.

The bottom of the Science Business article states:

We record all IP addresses on the TalkBack message boards which may be required by the authorities in case of defamatory or abusive comment.

Does that apply to comments IN articles in Science Business?

Separately, a commenter to IAM had an alternative explanation for US companies avoiding filing cases in Europe:

Of course, the idiosincrasies of the US patent system do not help. For instance, one reason for Americans not to file abroad is that, in principle, they'll have to file at the USPTO Information Disclosure Statements about all the prior art cited in foreign search reports

The commenter also stated: It isn't just Europe, please note that she says: "We file only in the US". This has very little to do with prosecution (never mind litigation!) costs abroad, and everything to do with ignorance and a certain fear of the unknown. Unfortunately, it is quite a common attitude among many American companies and quite a few patent attorneys. In fact, I fear many American decision-makers even believe that a US patent is enforceable worldwide.

IPBiz questions the accuracy of those later comments.


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