back to article That Brexit in action: UK signs pact to let Euro court judge its patents

Britain has finally signed up to Europe's unified patent court (UPC) – a long-planned simplification of the continent's patent system – but big questions still remain thanks to Brexit and a federal court challenge in Germany. "The Minister for Intellectual Property, Sam Gyimah MP, has today confirmed that the UK has ratified …

  1. The Nazz

    The right thing to do.


    As with cooperation on the vast majority of pan-european trade and activity. Space projects etc. like Galileo. Scientists must be shaking their heads at both the UK and the Eurocrat politicians.

    We have contributed some £1,2bn of funding and much, much scientific and technical know and yet a handful of politicians decide we are soon to be no longer allowed to take part and receive the outputs.

    re Bundesverfassungsgericht

    Do the Germans have crosswords and has anybody ever solved one?

    6, 12 and 14 across Type of farm machinery (21,14)

    1. stephanh

      Re: The right thing to do.

      That would be "Federal constitutional court" in English, a phrase which incidentally is completely made out of Latin loan words.

    2. Wapiya

      Re: The right thing to do.

      Lol. High German has the ability to string simple words together to form an new word. Some of these would need a full sentence or paragraph in english, at least some fill words in between. But even English has them (crossword, television).

      A desk would be Schreibtisch (lit. writingtable). A lamp for this desk would be Schreibtischlampe. And if you want to be able to switch it on and off you need a Schreibtischlampenschalter (writing desk lamp switch). And crossword riddles (Kreuzworträtsel lit. cross word riddle) do not use these. ie.

      1. Nick Kew

        Re: The right thing to do.

        Somehow it all works well in German. Doesn't sound so contrived as antidisestablishmentarianology.

      2. Stork

        Re: The right thing to do.

        Danish (and I think Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic too) also allows wordbuilding

        1. stephanh

          Re: The right thing to do.

          In Dutch we have the joke word hottentottententententoonstellingsterrein: exhibition terrain for "Hottentot" (Khoikhoi people) tents.

          Never mind that Khoikhoi don't live in tents.

          1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: Hottentot

            And there was I thinking that this witty interpretation was correct (apologies for quoting in full).

            Once I was a waiting man who lived at home at ease

            Now I am a mariner that ploughs the stormy seas

            I always loved seafaring life I bid my love adieu

            I shipped as steward and cook me boys on board the kangaroo

            I never thought she would prove false or either prove untrue

            As we sailed away from Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo

            Think of me oh think of me she mournfully did say

            When you are in a foreign land and I am far away

            And take this lucky thrupenny bit it will make you bear in mind

            This loving trusting faithful heart you left in tears behind

            Cheer up, cheer up my own true love don’t weep so bitterly

            She sobbed she sighed she choked she cried till she could not say goodbye

            I won’t be gone for very long but for a month or two

            And when I return again of course I’ll visit you

            Our ship it was homeward bound from manys the foreign shore

            Manys the foreign present unto my love I bore

            I brought tortoises from Tenerife and ties from Timbuktu

            A China rat, a Bengal cat and a Bombay cockatoo

            Paid off I sought her dwelling on a street above the town

            Where an ancient dame upon the line was hanging out her gown

            Where is my love? she’s vanished sir about six months ago

            With a smart young man who drives the van for Chaplin Son & Co.

            Here’s a health to dreams of married life to soap suds and blue

            Heart’s true love, patent starch and washing soda too

            Ill go into some foreign shore no longer can I stay

            With some China Hottentot I’ll throw my life away

            My love she was no foolish girl her age it was two score

            My love she was no spinster she’d been married twice before

            I cannot say it was her wealth that stole my heart away

            She was a washer in the laundry for one and nine a day


        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: The right thing to do.

          English allows wordbuilding (an example of which would be the word you just built, "wordbuilding"). It's just not as common as other languages, and rarely goes beyond two words.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: The questionable thing to do.

      Before UPC:

      Pick an EU country you and the victim have in common. Argue your case there and the result applies to the whole of Europe. You get a judge with some understanding of patent law, little idea about technology but with a real threat that he might make an effort to learn. The judge has income independent of the patent system. His rulings are likely to be a bit random and probably will not be biased in your favour.

      Plan for after UPC:

      Go to the UPC get a judge who thoroughly understands patent law and might understand something about technology. The judge will a patent professional who has invested years of his time specialising in the patent system. Your victim will be found guilty if he does not settle. If he settles, take the money in the UK so you will not have to pay tax.

      In the UK our politicians have been convinced that patents have some sort of constructive function, and mostly tried to push the worst of the UK patent system into Europe out of ignorance. The rest of Europe is a mixture, but some of them understand the damage that the patent system causes and try to limit it. The UPC is the end-game in regulatory capture: everything about patents will decided by patent lawyers with no hope of appeal outside their cabal.

      1. maffski

        Re: The questionable thing to do.

        'In the UK our politicians have been convinced that patents have some sort of constructive function, and mostly tried to push the worst of the UK patent system into Europe out of ignorance'

        Invention is, by it's very definition, a public good. Once one person has figured out how to do something we all get the benefit of being able to do it. We love public goods as they make life a little better for everyone.

        The trouble with delivering a public good is that it doesn't put food in your belly.

        We would like there to be more invention, so we get the public good, but people have no reason or opportunity to invent. We have two possible solutions to this, one is taxation and public research, the other is to just agree among us all that if someone comes up with a good idea we'll promise not to use it ourselves for a little while so they can make a profit.

        This is the patent system (and copyright). And you think it has no constructive function?

  2. Dr Paul Taylor

    the UK's planned exit from the European Union

    Of all the words that could be said about this, planned is not one of them!

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: the UK's planned exit from the European Union

      no one said "well planned"

      1. Dr Paul Taylor

        Re: the UK's planned exit from the European Union

        no one said "well planned"

        My comment stands nevertheless. There has been no "planning" at all, even bad planning.

        Equally, brexit will not just fail to bring net benefits, it will not benefit anybody in any way at all, except perhaps American billionaires, and I now doubt that it will even benefit them.

  3. Norman Nescio

    EPO not an EU body

    The European Patent Office is not a European Union body - it is part of an entirely separate 'International organisation*' - the European Patents Organisation which a public international organisation created in 1977 by its contracting states to grant patents in Europe under the European Patent Convention (EPC) of 1973. The European Patent Organisation has its seat at Munich, Germany,and has administrative and financial autonomy.

    The European Patent Organisation is not legally bound to the European Union (EU) and has several members which are not themselves EU states.

    The EPO effectively has its own laws, separate from the member states which is a source of some strife with regard to its employment practices and oversight of the actions of its leaders. For example, you could live in Munich and work for the EPO, but German employment law doesn't apply.

    *"modelled on a modern state order and based on the separation of powers principle"

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: EPO not an EU body

      Except that German employment law does apply, because those rights cannot be waived.

      That is one of several reasons why the legal challenge is practically certain to go all the way.

      Or the whole thing declared illegal in a summary judgement, which would have the same effect of course.

      1. Norman Nescio

        Re: EPO not an EU body

        It will be interesting to see how that turns out.

        The EPOrg, as an International Organisation set up by the European Patent Convention is odd.

        If you look at the Convention, Article 8 incorporates by reference a protocol of privileges and immunities which are amazingly wide-ranging. I am not a specialist in any kind of law, including international law, so I wouldn't be quick to definitely rule out that the EPO doesn't need to follow German (or Dutch) employment law.

        As far as I understand the current situation (which is not very well), the EPOrg is not recognising local employment rights, and that needs sorting out definitively with expensive lawyers and long-winded legal processes. Anything I say on the topic is likely worthless, other than to highlight the issue for brainier people than me to deal with. I'm sorry if I've got things wrong.

    2. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: EPO not an EU body

      EPO membership is closer to that of the European Economic Area, i.e. the EU plus EFTA. It is not sovereign in the laws that it proposes, but must try to make laws which are compatible with those of its member states. I cannot imagine us deserting it. If the UK does need to renegotiate membership (IANAL), this will be a mere formality.

      In its internal affairs however, it is pretty much a law unto itself, a certain "King Batistelli" being a particular thorn in its side at the moment. It is currently in even more chaos over him than we are over Brexit. ISTR he is the one who is championing the hob-nailed boot treatment of German employment rights - the German challenge certainly has its anti-Batistelli dimension.

      But hey, roll on the kneejerk stereotypes born of ignorance, who needs a reality check when you have a topical prejudice to air.

  4. unwarranted triumphalism

    Remoaners get it wrong - again

    How much more damage are they going to do to the economy before they are stopped?

    1. James 51

      Re: Remoaners get it wrong - again

      Did you even read the article?

      1. Solarflare

        Re: Remoaners get it wrong - again

        Of course not, why would he read it if he can spout off a quick comment to make himself feel superior?

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: Remoaners get it wrong - again

          Of course not, why would he read it if he can spout off a quick comment to make himself feel superior?

          At least he's living up to his handle, any sense of superiority is unwarranted.

  5. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Talking about EPO

    Unsurprisingly, you forgot to talk about good news regarding the EPO:

    - Many EPO fee are reduced

    - In terms of conduct, the Boards of Appeal increased their performance in 2017, while maintaining high quality: The number of technical cases settled by the boards increased by 2.5 percent, while the number of technical cases that the boards started work on rose by 12.5 percent.

    Didn't your SUEPO friends talk to you about these?

  6. Ken 16 Silver badge

    How many Minister for Intellectual Property*s are we licensed for

    and how to they relate to Ministerial Suck Up charging?

    *too few jokes are coded for Z these days

  7. fredj

    When you have a patent it doesn't mean that you always have the basis for something technically wonderful. Often it means that you can block someone else's new ideas and protect your old business. If you are lucky enough to get a key patent then you can effectively own a whole new business without doing little more than collecting royalties. Patent trolls love these.

    Patents are a wonderful area for people to search for new ideas and avoid recent ones which they would have to license to use even if their own thoughts were independent. This of course raises the question as to whether the original patent should have been allowed in the first place.

    Patents vary in quality. American patents are often blindingly obvious. Apple's rounded corners is a modern notable case. I was taught to form rounded corners in technical drawing classes c. 1964 yet Apple got a patent! I think I remember someone patenting a wheel barrow.?

    Poor patents are a liability for everyone concerned because of the cost of overturning them. On the other hand that cost can be weaponised - Apple Again. This basically rules out innovative start up companies. Note: To British politicians continually eulogising start up companies as the way forward. Most UK start ups sell out immediately they get a good patent and take the cash while the value is there.

    There is far more to patents than just, "The Patent!"

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