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Software patent of the month – July

The following five EU-software patents are nominated for the election of the "software patent of July":
Patent Votes Percentage
EP1157318 A ground proximity warning system allows for accuracy of measurement 44 4.80%
EP0811961 "Take third turn to the right" 261 28.49%
EP0502255 Changing the TV channel before the movie begins 81 8.84%
EP0836787 Internet by means of mobile phone 405 44.21%
EP0256753 No recording of videos marked as "copying prohibited" 125 13.65%

Total votes: 916

In July the information campaign nosoftwarepatents-award.com is taking place against the background of the public hearing on future patent policy on 12 July 2006. The patents of July have in common that there were filed appeals against these patents after being granted by the European Patent Office (EPO). However all of the five appeals failed.

In the cases in which the EPO dismissed the appeals, the last words on the subject are not spoken yet. For the time being national courts can declare invalid every patent granted by the EPO. This situation will change completely if current EU patent initiatives are ratified.

If the so-called EPLA (European Patent Litigation Agreement) comes into force there will be installed a central, European jurisidiction on patents, which would reduce the national courts to insignificance. According to expert opinion the disappearing influence of national courts and the expected staffing of a new European patent court would open the doors for a flood of software patents and lawsuits against patent infringements. The way for the legitimisation of European software patents would be paved.

The nomination of five software patents, which were declared valid against appeals, is supposed to call attention to the fear that validations of software patents would be the rule in the EU after the ratification of the EPLA – but without the national courts currently acting as a counter balance.

Otherwise we the nomination of patents was coincidental.

The fact that two out of five patents are owned by Siemens is coincidence – however this is not surprising as more than 30 percent of all the German software patents are owned by Siemens (Source: FFII/Gauss).

Positive examples are searched!

Time and time again it is stated that the examples presented by this campaign are "gaffes". It is further maintained that most of the software patents are justly granted protection rights for inventions which would not have been made without the prospect of 20 years of patent protection.

In one of the coming elections we want to present such "positive" examples and to provide an impartial view on the negative and presumed positive aspects of software patents for our readers.

Perhaps you know a software patent, which you feel convinced to be patent of quality? Or you know one which was awarded with a price of innovation? Please send us information about your candidates of high-value software patents!