Thanks to the IPKat's friend and occasional incisive commenter Gerontius for pointing out co-blogger Alex Horns’ comments on an Intellectual Asset Management article that might dismay some patent attorneys.
"The problem in Europe, however, is that there are very strong vested interests with a huge stake in the system as it currently is. For example, if translations are less important moving forward, that is going to have a substantial impact on the income of many patent attorneys in many countries. Likewise a single European patent court is going to mean less litigation work for a large number of lawyers, while the availability of a patent that covers the whole of Europe spells danger for national patent offices. With all this in mind, let’s consider who are among those most closely involved in the negotiation process. You’ve guessed it: national patent offices, patent attorneys and patent lawyers. Just what incentive do they have to find a way forward that will work? Throw in a very vocal and well organised lobby opposed to many forms of patenting on ideological grounds and you have a recipe for no meaningful progress at all".The IPKat would like to point out in a friendly way that patent attorneys as a body, ably represented by the Chartered Institute, have a clearly stated position of approving the EPLA, and have certainly not tried to block these moves. Furthermore, translations do not in fact have a great impact on attorney fees, since they are almost always outsourced to specialist firms, whose fees are simply passed on to the client. There is no great advantage for anyone in perpetuating a fragmented European patent system.
The IPKat thinks that there is a need for balance and fair play here, and the IAM piece (unusually) appears to have fallen short of the mark. Assuming the “vocal and well organised lobby” refers to the FFII et al (see comments on a previous post here), there appears to be some confusion over the now defunct CII (which most patent attorneys avoided like the plague, knowing it to be doomed from the start) and the EPLA (which any sensible patent attorney would see as being a good idea). Blaming patent attorneys for the lack of progress at a European level, when they have done absolutely nothing to prevent progress, but instead have on the whole actively encouraged it, is a tad unfair.
Merpel points out that, if we should be pointing the finger at anyone, some of the usual culprits may be found just over the Channel, although she is prepared to eat her words once (or if) the London agreement goes through.