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Monday, November 16, 2009

Patent fun and GMO nonsense, November 2009

Today:
  1. SMEs want patent protection at heart of 'EU Innovation Act'
  2. Google faces new EU battle over e-books
  3. EU firms voice fears of trade secret 'leakage' in China
  4. EU to inject millions into developing innovative medicine
  5. EU farm chief pushes for biotech feed rules
Quote of the day:Of course, the patent system should be simplified and unified, that's clear. But whether SMEs are the ones to really benefit from this is questionable. I think the whole system is corrupted in the sense, it protects mostly big companies and corporations, at least in USA which we want to use as a model. So, if we want to really help SMEs and anyway to boost innovation, we have to think how to change the system in such a way.

SMEs want patent protection at heart of 'EU Innovation Act'

8 September 2009

Small businesses have welcomed the EU's latest efforts to enhance innovation but urged leaders to make a single European Community patent a top priority. The European Commission's new overview of innovation policy includes plans for a European Innovation Act.

In addition to beefed-up intellectual property protection, SMEs also want EU member states to promote innovation through state aid, public procurement and the creation of lead markets.

Responding to the review of innovation issues published by the Commission's enterprise directorate, UEAPME – a leading SME lobby group – called for progress on a single Community patent, "which would dramatically boost innovation in SMEs".

UEAPME Secretary-General Andrea Benassi said the document showed "a better and refined understanding" of innovation issues.

He said the document identifies the right challenges to fill the innovation gap between Europe and its main competitors, namely the protection of intellectual property rights, access to finance and better cooperation between science and business.

The Commission's broad summary of current thinking on innovation in Europe ticks all the usual boxes, including the need for a Community patent, a greater role for SMEs, the importance of the internal market, and improving education and skills. source

My comment: Yeah, nothing exactly new here, but it's good to know that the EC has all the problems in mind and it is working toward solving them. I wonder, however, what exactly have SMEs to do with science and innovation. After all, science is usually expensive field, it's hard to imagine a small enterprise registering patents on something fundamentally new, though maybe I'm wrong. Of course, the patent system should be simplified and unified, that's clear. But whether SMEs are the ones to really benefit from this is questionable. I think the whole system is corrupted in the sense, it protects mostly big companies and corporations, at least in USA which we want to use as a model. So, if we want to really help SMEs and anyway to boost innovation, we have to think how to change the system in such a way. Not an easy task, but then, that's why the guys from the EC have those BIG salaries, right?

As for intellectual property, that's ridiculous. The intellectual property protection never existed in its wholeness. What those laws and regulations actually protect is the right of companies to earn from the intellectual property of decent people. Which will be very obvious if we look into the contracts of any entertainer - musician or writer with his or her company. If you ask me, the real protection should go into this direction - a company should be a representative of the creator and not the right holder. And as a representative, this company should take a regulated percentage of the money, not more than 10%. Otherwise, don't fool us you're protecting intellectual rights, you are not!

Google faces new EU battle over e-books

8 September 2009

Google's project to digitise the world's book heritage has been welcomed by the EU Commission, but many questions have arisen regarding the potential monopolistic power of the US giant over access to digitised works, copyright, data protection and even censorship risks.

Google is at the forefront of the digital book business. According to its own figures, 10 million books have already been migrated from their original paper format into an electronic version, under its revolutionary Book Search project.

This colossal operation holds enormous promise for cultural heritage since it brings back to life works that were shelved in dusty libraries, difficult to access for average user.

In addition, this operation should not harm the existing market of digital books, since it involves only books that are "not commercially available," argues Google.

According to figures provided by Google, 97% of the world book market concerns in-print books. Out-of-print or orphan books (for which the copyright holder is unknown) hold the remaining market share of 2-3%.

Although of little commercial value, out-of-print and orphan books represent 90% of European libraries' collections and the largest proportion of global works. It is a potentially enormous market which, if brought to the surface, could return enormous profits and is likely to shift current market share figures.

Having accumulated such an advantage over any possible competitor, will Google be in a monopolistic position in the nascent market of digitised old books?

European publishers, authors and booksellers largely agree that this would be the case creating new competition issues and potential devastating effects on some of the current business models. "Google would become the world de facto digital bookseller," warned Fran Dubruille of the European Booksellers' Federation, which represents 20,000 EU booksellers. Authors fear that Google will be able to impose the prices it wants.

Publishers fret they will lose substantial revenues: "If a copy of an English-language book published in Europe finds its way to a US library, Google could scan it even if the rights haven't been sold for the US market, possibly harming the publisher's own opportunities to sell those rights in future," argues Angela Mills-Wade of the European Publishers Council.

A monopolistic situation in the books market has potentially terrible consequences for world culture, speakers at a hearing organised by the European Commission in Brussels pointed out, citing emerging risks of censorship. If you have a single distributor, it is easier for a state or a powerful interest group to block a book due to its content, so the argument goes.

Data protection questions arise as well, as with many other Google projects, from the search engine to its email service. The question of who is checking this enormous amount of personal data is frequently posed by Europeans.

Google responds that these are not real issues since it will not be in a monopolistic position. The company says it will guarantee access to its digital registry to every company interested in scanning and digitising books.

European publishers have proposed a way to easily work out if a book is out-of-print or not. The system is called ARROW (Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works) and is poised to become an alternative to Google Books itself, according to a statement published yesterday by the Federation of European Publishers (FEP).

Europeans have another reason to complain about Google Books. If indeed Google does reach a settlement in the US, American users will be able to access thousands of European digitised books which are in European libraries and de facto not accessible to EU citizens.

This is the reason why the Commission is supporting the project and pushing for harmonised copyright rules across EU countries. source

My comment: Ok, I couldn't edit a great deal this article and where I edited it, I feel I lost some information so please go and read it at the source. Anyway, if you follow After The Pink Goat blog, you'll probably know that I had some problems with Google these days, so I can personally vouch how dangerous is to trust everything in the hands of monopolist. And the guarantees Google gives are ridiculous. What does is it mean that they'll provide access to anyone interested? Oh, yeah, they skipped something - they'll provide access to anyone obeying TOS of Google. The same TOS that say that you have to obey Google requirements while Google has no obligation to you, the service is as it is and they reserve the right to delete your accounts whenever they wish. Am, hello?. How could anyone trust something so big in the hands of people who don't understand that they are providing a service and their users also have rights! So, I'm all for digitizing the books, but not like this. Google has to learn to obey regulations and to be responsible for its services and for the rights of its users. No more, no less! The client before all, remember? And just as the mobile provides were forced to obey our rights by the EC, the same should happen to Google.

EU firms voice fears of trade secret 'leakage' in China

7 September 2009

Confidential data provided by European companies to the Chinese authorities as part of patent applications and environmental impact assessments are being leaked to local competitors, according to the European Union's Chamber of Commerce in China.

There is a growing concern amongst European companies about the "leakage of confidential information," with Chinese government agencies demanding detailed data on the products and practices of foreign firms.

Companies are losing vital classified information at various stages of business development, including project applications, product certification, environmental impact assessments, patent filings, marketing approvals and registration, the paper said.

As a precondition of market access in several industries, businesses must provide government laboratories with highly confidential information which European firms say "goes far beyond the scope" of what should be strictly necessary.

There are also concerns over a draft new patent law which requires innovative companies to submit inventions to the Chinese authorities for "confidentiality examinations" prior to filing patent applications abroad.

This proposal is causing much consternation among companies conducting research and development in China and is "likely to make EU companies less willing" to base R&D operations at their Chinese plants.

source

My comment: I'm not sure if I have to bother to comment - this article obviously points to a MAJOR problem. I mean "confidentiality examinations" - come one! How could you submit your patent data any other agencies than the one that will grant you the patent! This is an obvious madness! However, I see a good side of the problem - with little luck, companies will come back to Europe because of this nonsense and we would all be happy. Nice, huh?

EU to inject millions into developing innovative medicines

15 September 2009

Europe is pumping an extra €156.3 million into accelerating the discovery and development of novel drugs as part of a new wave of public-private investment in innovative medicines.

The funding is the second tranche made available as part of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a joint venture between the European Commission and members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. The IMI agreed a package of €246 million for new medicines earlier this year.

EU Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik said the initiative will improve Europe's attractiveness for pharmaceutical R&D and to ensure that results from fundamental research can be rapidly translated into new innovative treatments.

The second call for proposals, which will be launched at the end of next month, focuses on nine topics including new tools for improving drug efficacy, improved diagnostics to facilitate clinical trials, and electronic health records. source

My comment: Oh well, happy money for the pharmacy industry. I only ask why we don't see such tranches for the European Space Agency. Because unlike the pharmacy industry, they don't get to sell drugs developed with the financial help of European citizens on unbelievable prices to the very same European citizens .

EU farm chief pushes for biotech feed rules

15 September 2009

EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel yesterday (14 September) urged member states to draw up rules by the end of 2009 to restore soybean imports from the United States and secure adequate supplies of animal feed, despite a zero-tolerance policy towards unapproved genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in imported products.

While the EU has been rubberstamping by default the approval of a string of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), mainly maize varieties, since 2004, it does not permit the use of other GMOs, even in minute amounts, until they have been approved for use in the bloc.

Soybeans, and to a lesser extent maize, are an important ingredient in animal feed.

Commissioner Fischer Boel told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU farm ministers in southern Sweden that a proposal on a maximum level for GMO residues in imports should be ready before the end of the year.

"Over the summer I have become even more worried about this, because of the fact that we are importing into Europe a lot of soybean, and we desperately need soybean for our pig and meat production," she said.

Since the EU's three main country suppliers of soy, a high-protein raw material for feed, mainly grow GM varieties, non-biotech soy has become increasingly difficult to source for the EU's manufacturers of animal feed.

The three suppliers are Argentina, Brazil and the United States.

More than 200,000 tonnes of US soy have been refused entry at EU ports in recent months after traces of unapproved GM maize varieties were discovered in them.

The blockage raised fears in the EU feed industry that it will be unable to buy millions of tonnes of US soybeans as planned unless the zero-tolerance policy on unapproved GMOs is changed.

The Commission has said it will find a technical solution to what is known as "low-level presence" of GMO residues.

"I've been very keen on this issue, raising the discussion on a quicker approval system, making it quite clear that member states do have their obligations," she said.

Fischer Boel said the Commission had already received positive feedback from the EU's scientific advisory body, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), on a variety of GM corn, MON 88017, which she hopes will be quickly approved by member states.

Fischer Boel said Sweden's agriculture minister, Eskil Erlandsson, had promised to put the issue of MON 88017 on the agenda at the next Council meeting.

But getting a proposal on a biotech approval system on the table by the end of the year could be tricky. source

My comment: Interesting, when we had pigs few years ago, we never gave them soya. How life on Earth changes...Sorry, but I don't understand why we should all eat soya and soya alone. There's soya in almost everything. This simply cannot be good! I was thinking of becoming vegetarian only to stop eating soya and antibiotics from the meat. Is this normal argument for such a decision? Well, it is the industry that forces me to do it! I like meat, but is this meat at all? The chickens are full of hormones, the cattle and pigs with GM soya. What are we eating after all! And not only there is soya in the meat, there is soya in most products on the market. This soya is almost always modified! I wonder why they even bother with farming - just use soya and additives for anything. It's much cheaper and simpler. I'm utterly disgusted and I'm the most disgusted from the fact authorities don't botherto solve this problem.


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