19 October 2005

Porridge for Patent Infringement? No. 2

In my first post to this blog I criticized proposals for a Council directive on criminal measures aimed at ensuring the enforcement of intellectual property rights and a framework decision to strengthen the criminal law framework to combat intellectual property offences. I am glad to see that I was in good company.

In "The Second IPR Enforcement Directive — A Threat to Competition and to Liberty", the response to the consultation of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University Computer Laboratory attacked the proposals on the following grounds:
(1) criminalization of patent infringement will damage competition, resulting in higher prices for consumers;
(2) new business formation and economic growth in Europe will be hit, especially if patent infringement remains a civil matter in our competitors;
(3) it will interfere with free speech over the internet;
(4) it will weaken still further the UK software industry;
(5) it will reduce access to books for the disabled; and
(6) it will interfere with academic freedom by imposing further restrictions on librarians and teachers.
The professor concludes:
"The UK's interests are not at all well served by this directive, and I strongly urge you and your colleagues to use the opportunity of the UK Presidency to kick it into touch."
Amen to that.

This directive is a gift to UKIP, Veritas and all the Tory Eurosceptics who yesterday voted out of their leadership race the only MP who might ever have won back my vote to their party. Imagine the headlines if an importer of generics anti-virus drugs were to be prosecuted for patent infringement at the height of a bird flu pandemic.

2 comments:

Ian Clarke said...

It is reassuring to see mounting opposition to this special interest legislation. When will our political leaders start to pass intellectual property laws which protect the interests of the pubic, rather than just those of IP owners?

John Lambert said...

Thanks for that comment Ian. If you want to see one alternative view, you may like to look at "Criminalizing Patent Infringement: Why it is a Bad Idea" which I have just posted on my nipc Invention (public access) blog. You can get to it from the links column on the right hand side. It summarizes a dialogue with one small inventor who is very much in favour of the proposal though I think it would do him no good at all even as an inventor.