“Patent trolls” will not trouble Europe – Battistelli

“Patent trolls” will not trouble Europe – Battistelli


Europe is strong enough to avoid a US-style “patent troll” phenomenon, European Patent Office (EPO) president Benoît Battistelli has claimed.

A few months ago, he said, concerns arose that problems caused by trolls, otherwise called non-practising entities (NPEs), would extend to Europe.

But the legal framework set out by the Unified Patent Court (UPC) and continuing efforts to implement the system mean “it will not be the case”, Battistelli said in a blog post dated February 21.

“This new litigation system will be well balanced and fit for the purpose,” he claimed.

In the US, legislative efforts to curb frivolous litigation have been gaining momentum in recent months. Several bills, including the Innovation Act, are working their way through US Congress, while the White House, on February 20, announced three executive actions to combat NPEs.

Referring explicitly to “patent trolling”, Battistelli said he is interested to see how the US “goes about devising legislative measures to address the issue effectively without impacting on normal practice”.

He added: “Some commentators see the problem as stemming mainly from the combination in the US litigation system of parameters (non-specialist juries, punitive damages, wide-ranging preliminary injunctions and expensive discovery actions) that create an imbalance of interests between the parties in pre-litigation discussions.”

Battistelli’s comments came at the end of his blog, which began by discussing UPC ratification. Parliaments in Austria, Malta and France have now ratified the deal, and “preparations for ratification” are also well under way in Belgium and the UK, Battistelli said. In May, Denmark will hold a referendum on joining the UPC.

“I would like to congratulate these national authorities on the swift progress they have made, and to encourage the other countries to step up the pace, so that the Unitary Patent can become available soon as a new option to users,” he said.

At least 13 member states, including France, Germany and the UK, must ratify the UPC for it to become effective.

On the technical side, added Battistelli, “I understand that the work of the preparatory committee for the UPC has been progressing well, with a strong emphasis on user consultation, which is crucial to confidence in the future system”.

He added: “Next month, the training centre for UPC judges will open in Budapest. This is a key element in the UPC project, and the EPO, with its long experience in training specialist patent judges, will be doing everything it can to support the new centralised jurisdiction in this respect.”

More than 1,300 people have applied for a UPC judicial position, and the selected judges will be “fully qualified and experienced”, Battistelli claimed.

With the pending launch of the UPC, the Brussels I Regulation dealing with jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments must be amended. In December, the EU’s council of ministers approved updates to that regulation, and the process is now nearly complete.

Battistelli said: “This process ... is about to be concluded: the Juri [legal affairs] committee of the European Parliament has now adopted the revised text as agreed during the Trilogue held on January 29 and confirmed by the Coreper II [Permanent Representatives Committee II] on February 5. Formal voting will take place in the parliament at the end of this month and in the council in early March.”

(Source: WIPR)

People watch

It is lucky for Chen Jun to began his career in the IP industry 14 years ago when the first group of IP managers for businesses appeared on the stage in China and he has been in the industry.

It was this “Whampoa Military Academy” for IP that educated China’s first batch of corporate IP management personnel. Many of these engineers left Foxconn in the years since.