Technology companies take the fight against patent trolls to EuropeSeptember 26, 2013 1:13 pm Leave your thoughts
As this blog has mentioned in the past, technology companies have been particularly focused on fighting the efforts of patent trolls in the U.S.—an area in which a Phoenix business attorney has some expertise. By using their patents to extract money from legitimate businesses, rather than create new products, trolls are considered a hindrance on innovation and economic growth.
Now, multinational technology companies are preparing for more fights against patent trolls in Europe.
According to an article in the New York Times, 14 companies recently sent a letter to European officials that laid out their concerns about the potential for a unified European patent court system.
Though these companies had favored the idea of such a system, the letter states that patent trolls may be able to take advantage of the rules as currently written. Specifically, it warns that some trolls may "shop around" European courts in smaller countries until they find juries that are particularly sympathetic to their case.
"Unprincipled plaintiffs would be able to extract substantial royalties … from European and other companies based on low-quality and potentially invalid patents," the letter read.
The letter also warned of allowing the new system to closely mirror the German legal system, which considers the questions of a patent's validity and of whether a patent infringes on another separately. This is thought to create conditions that patent trolls could exploit for their own ends, since plaintiffs could theoretically win an infringement case before the court decides on whether the patent was valid in the first place.
Officials told the New York Times that they were open to considering the opinions of these companies, which includes major players like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel and Yahoo. However, not everyone shared the concerns expressed in the letter.
"I don't see it as a major problem at all," Kevin Mooney, a British patent lawyer, told the Times. Mooney chairs the drafting committee responsible for advising the creation of the new court system. "We have one set of procedures for all these courts. It would be nonsense if we allowed one court, Romania, say, to become the Eastern District of Texas." This is a reference to the belief that the Eastern District is particularly friendly to patent trolls.
According to the Times, the system will not be established until it can collect the approval of at least 13 European Union member states. It has not yet done so.
Categorised in: International Business Law
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