Thursday, 22 May 2014
Patent trolls in Europe: a burning issue right now?
Speaking at the Extraordinary General Assembly of MAPPING yesterday (on which see this and subsequent posts on the IPKat), it was my task to introduce a discussion of the role of intellectual property in Europe, within the context of internet governance, privacy, online security and surveillance. I mentioned various issues in my 45 minute talk, mainly but not exclusively relating to copyright and trade marks, but also patents in the context of Amazon's controversial one-click online shopping patent.
During the subsequent discussion I was taken to task for not mentioning the threat of patent trolls. My feeling was at the time, and still is, that while the phenomenon has manifested itself to a large extent in the United States, where the homogeneity of the domestic market and the existence of a single patent to cover it, as well as the infrastructure of federal patent litigation, make troll-based business models which are both attractive and lucrative, the current legal, cultural and economic infrastructure is more fragmented and makes it less easy for such business models to succeed. I also believe that, to the extent that trolling depends on the making of unwarranted demands of licence payments on pain of bringing an infringement action, remedies already exist at national level which address this sort of behaviour.
It is easy for someone who is a regular commentator, public speaker and alleged thought-leader to lead himself to believe that what he says is right and that everyone agrees with him, so this blogger thought he'd ask readers of this blog what they think. Does the patchwork of pan-European and national law in Europe, together with its still-divided nature, make the continent a less-than-fertile territory for patent trolling, or is this view outdated or just completely untenable? Do let him know!