Big European businesses ask European Parliament to reject Unitary Patent

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On the eve of European Parliament plenary vote on the unitary patent regulation, Ericsson, Nokia and BAE have written to Members of the European Parliament, asking them to reject the text. The reason put forward by these major European firms is that the current text would do more harm than good to European business.

And here come the Orcs! Orcs are indeed huge creatures. So is Ericsson, which was among top 25 patentees in 2011, according to the European Patent Office (EPO). So is Nokia, which was among top 50 applicants the same year, still according to EPO statistics. And so is BAE Systems, which was formed in 1999 by the £7.7 billion merger of Marconi Electronic System, a subsidiary of the General Electric Company, and British Aerospace, and which is the 3rd world's largest defence contractors, based on 2011 revenues.

The three big businesses have sent a letter on Monday December 10th, 2012 to Members of the European Parliament (MPEs), warning them that, despite their support of “a unitary patent system in Europe provided it results in a better system than we have in Europe today”, this was not the case of the text that will be put to vote on Tuesday December 11th. On the contrary, they warn that “the proposed Regulation now before the European Parliament is seriously flawed”, and expressed concerns that “if passed, it will harm innovation, competition and enterprise in Europe for years and decades to come”.

While the same day, Commissioner Michel BARNIER has welcomed the anecdotal political endorsement of the unitary patent package by the Council as a way for Europe patent bubble to inflate as much as in US or China, the three European innovative firms give the alarm that it “will put Europe at a serious disadvantage compared with other nations and trading blocs, both established and developing, around the world”.

The most highlighted danger of the unitary patent regulation in their letters lies in infamous Article 5a, which implement the so-called “comprise” found last month by the Cyprus presidency to overcome the deadlock which had led the European Parliament to postpone its vote on last July. According to Ericsson, Nokia and BAE, such a compromise “creates greater legal uncertainty and more opportunity for forum shopping. It facilitates abusive behaviour by patent holders”. In short, Article 5a will makes patent trolls invade Europe. Patent trolls are non-practising enterprises, which don't sell any good, nor service, with a business model based exclusively on patent licenses and prosecutions. Economists have estimate patent trolls have generated for the United States no less than $29 billion of direct costs in 2011. It is not a mere coincidence if we've called the Cyprus troll the fourth part of Amendment n° 70, which address this Article 5a.

Against these statements form the industry, the rapporteur, Bernard RAPKAY still pretends that there is no legal uncertainties in this “Cyprus compromise” he has accepted from the Council, even blatantly lying about what was actually said by legal services of the European Parliament.

Whatever is voted by the European Parliament, he will have to draw all the appropriate consequences from this. So as MEPs who will vote for this illegal, inefficient and harmful proposal. So as government representatives who have already endorsed it. So as Commissioner BARNIER, whom we have warned before he made his proposal. And so as Mr. Thierry SUEUR, who, as Chairman of BUSINESSEUROPE's “Patents” Working Group, has always declared himself representing all European businesses.

Find below joint letters of Nokia and BAE, and Ericsson's one.

nokia_and_bae_systems_joint_letter.pdf272.56 KB
ericsson_2012_12_10.pdf321.95 KB