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The newly elected President of France, François Hollande promising "change". Will he be the first anti-patent campaigner governing an EU state?

Now that François Hollande took office as the new President of France after his marginal victory in the French presidential elections this May, he will now introduce himself to official EU policy on his first Competitive Council meeting on May 31/June 1. The draft agenda for this meeting (cf. item 19), reading “Draft agreement on a Unified Patent Court and draft Statute – Political agreement“, electrifies observers of and parties involved the ongoing European patent legislation saga (see also press release, middle of page 5).

In recent months the upcoming French elections brought the negotiations on the Unified Patent Court Agreement to a complete standstill, as the dynamics between the French, British and German heads of govenment and the general political climate is a crucial factor in this legislative process, especially since the only serious and realistic candidates for the attractive seat of the new UPC Central Division are Paris, London, and Munich and it is frequently announced through official channels that this question is the only remaining open issue.

The EU Council expressed already in January this year its believe that a final agreement can be reached in June 2012 (see official statement) and it was the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who clarified in a recent letter that he hopes (or expects) the remaining issues to be sorted out at next week’s Competitiveness meeting:

“[...] This deal is needed now, because this is an issue of crucial importance for innovation and growth. I very much hope that the last outstanding issue will be sorted out at the May Competitiveness Council. If not, I will take it up at the June European Council.”

But IP matters will not become easier in Europe with Mr Hollande, given his apparent openness to positions of critics of the current patent system. In fact, some of the answers (pdf) of Ms Fleur Pellerin (@fleurpellerin), responsible for the digital economy in Hollande’s campaign team, on a tendentious pre-election questionnaire of French anti software patent group “April” appear as if the socialist candidate for president (or his spokeswoman) was one of the ideological leaders of that pressure group:

The patentability of software would induce a partitioning of innovation that would be harmful to the ecosystem seen in its digital together. I am therefore opposed to the patenting of software.

As already indicated in my earlier post, one of the mainstream topics of discussions in Germany concerning IP politicts is the stunning rise of the German Piratenpartei (Pirate Party) at least if recent polls can be trusted. As of April 18, 2012, a poll covering the entire territory of Germany attributes to the Piratenpartei a 13% share of the votes. This is remarkable, indeed. According to the same poll, the Greens could expect a 12% share of the votes and, hence, the Piratenpartei might well be called third-strongest political party in Germany. However, we should not forget that such polls usually have a substantial error margin and, hence, the reality might also be that the Greens have 14% and the Piratenpartei merely 11% of the votes. In any case, at least at the time being, the Piratenpartei appear to be well avove 10% and, of course, well ahead of the 5% quorum required to get seats in general elections.

In view of this situation we can see an increasing level of nervousness – if not outright panickiness – amongst other political parties which are feverishly considering all available options of how to cope with this new political force. It is entirely open to what end this development will lead. Some parties, in particular the Greens, might be mulling to inch towards Pirate positions in order ro regain ground in circles of younger citizens while others surely will prefer to fight agsinst the very tendencies embodied by the Piratenpartei. In this context and speaking to an audience of IP specialists living abroad I would also like to point out that the current political discussion of the Piratenpartei can by no means be reduced to issues related to IP rights. There are other topics, for example in the fields of welfare politics or related to defending civil rights which are of great importance domestically.

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Pirate Party delegates in Saarbrücken, Germany

The Pirate Party (“Piratenpartei” in Germany) is well known amongst IP professionals for their sceptic stance on the current state of copyright and patent law. This article is just to keep our readers overseas without regular access to domestic news from Germany informed on recent developments:

Last not least in view of euphoric feelings after the Pirate Party’s success in Saarland, probably creating a thrust of motivation amongst their party activists, I would be somewhat surprised if they don’t also make it into the Parliaments of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia later this spring. And afterwards, if they manage to avoid any severe PR-disaster having a potential to turn their party into a laughing stock, it is also likely to see them in the Parliament of Lower Saxony as well as in the Bundestag in Berlin next year. As there are literally thousands of newcomer volunteers lining up at party conferences and looking for participation it might prove a bit difficult for the party to make sure that no lunatics or polit trolls seize the floor for performing a show of their own.

Anyway, pepole involved in IP politics better should assume that Piratenpartei is likely to stay.

(Photo: (C) 2012 CC-BY Piratenpartei @Fek)