Ralph Nack and Software Patents by absences


									         Ralph Nack and Software Patents



        Ralph Nack, a young scholar at the MPI, student of Straus. Ardent sup-
     porter of unlimited patentability, in particular of patents for anything that
     runs on a computer and can be said to “stand in a tradition of engineer-
     ing”. This, according to Nack, includes algorithms that allow a computing
     task to be solved more efficiently and that are also sometimes said to stand
     in a tradition of purely mental activity. Nack has written a doctorate the-
     sis, numerous GRUR articles and some AIPPI reports and participated in a
     government-ordered study on this subject. Nack insists that text must also
     be directly patentable because the intellectual achievement and not the form
     is important. He also insists that patentability can neither be limited by
     explicit exclusions as those in Art 52 EPC nor by a theory of “technical in-
     vention” as has been built by german courts in the 60/70s. Instead anything
     that stands in an “engineering tradition” should be patentable, and it is up
     to the courts to identify and follow the path of this tradition and shape it
     according to a legal intuition which is not open to questioning by outsiders.
     Some have remarked that Nack sees law as a kind of Disk World. On the
     other hand Nack does not agree with the widespread patent lawyer view
     that the invention is what is claimed and that Art 52 EPC can be dodged by
     writing appropriate claims. Instead, Nack agrees with us that “invention” =
     “technical contribution” = “the novel core of the teaching, which must be



     • Nack 2000: Sind jetzt computer-implementierte Gesch¨ftsmethoden
       patentierbar? 1

                                               e e          e              e
             En printemps 2000, la Court F´d´rale Supr`me (BGH) d´clare dans
             un changement d’opinion spectaculaire que le caract`re technique
             d’un “appareil de technique programmatrice” doit ˆtre consid´r´        ee
             ind´pendemment de la question est-ce qu cet “appareil” s’accompagne
             d’une contribution a la technique. Ainsi il semble que la route a la
                         e                        e
             brevetabilit´ sans limites de toute m´thode de gestion est ouverte. Nack
             demande est-ce que c’est vraiment comme ca. Il introduit quelques ques-
             tions fondamentales, montre des inconsistences de la jurisdiction autant
             de la BGH que de l’OEB (“du point de vue dogmatique le chaos ne
                     e                                                e
             saurait ˆtre plus grand”), donne l’impression que la loi ´crite ne signifie
                                 e         e                         e
             rien et doit donc ˆtre chang´ au sense de brevetabilit´ du logiciel, ex-
             plique que il est vraisemblable que la BGH changera encore d’avis est il
             est difficile de pr´dire dans quelle direction. Finalement Nack demande
                       e            e
             que le suj`t soit trait´ non seulement sur in niveau juridique mais aussi
             sur un niveau politique: en 1877, quand l’Allemagne introduisa sa loi
                             e                       ee                  e
             de brevet, elle ´tait courageuse et c’a ´t´ un grand succ`s. Pour quoi
             au jour d’hui, dans l’´poque post-industrielle, on ne montre pas au jour
             d’hui la mˆme courage en introduisant le brevet aux secteurs de finances,
             commerce et services, demande-t-il.

     • US-Urteil CAFC 1998-07-23:                                     a
                                                 Algorithmen und Gesch¨ftsmethoden

             Kommentator Nack zur Doktrin des State-Street-Beschlusses, wonach
             Verfahren jedweder Art grunds¨tzlich strukturell gleich und somit alle
             gleichermaßen patentierbar sind: Diese bemerkenswerte Erkenntnis hat
             leider in Deutschland noch kaum Beachtung gefunden ... Die Auffassung
             des Court of Appeal steht im Widerspruch zur deutschen Kerntheorie
             und zur Lehre vom technischen Effekt. ... Der durch diese Kriterien
             gebotene Spielraum ist im europ¨ischen und deutschen Recht noch lange
             nicht ausgesch¨pft.


                            ´     ´
     • Fraunhofer/MPI 2001: Etude Economique/L´gale sur les Brevets Logi-

             In 2001-01, the German Federal Ministery of Economy and Technology
             (BMWi) ordered a study on the economic effects of software patentabil-
             ity from well known think tanks with close affinity to the German
             patent establishment: the Fraunhofer Institute for Innovation Research
             (ISI.fhg.de), the Fraunhofer Patent Agency (PST.fhg.de) and the Max
             Planck Institute for Foreign and International Patent, Copyright and
             Competition Law (MPI = intellecprop.mpg.de). The study was largely
             concluded in 2001-06 and preliminary results were presented to a selected
             audience. The final report was published by the BMWi on 2001-11-15.
             The study is based on an opinion poll answered by several hundred soft-
             ware company representatives and independent software developpers,
             conducted by Fraunhofer ISI. Most respondents have had little experi-
             ence with software patents and don’t want software patents to become a
             daily reality like in the US. The poll also investigated the significance of
             open source software for these companies and found it to be of substan-
             tial importance as a common infrastructure. Based on these findings,
             the Fraunhofer authors predict that an increase in the use of software
             patents will put many software companies out of business and slow down
             innovation in the software field. The study then jumps to conclude that
             software patents must be legalised and SMEs must be better informed
             about them. This surprising conclusion is drawn by the patent law schol-
             ars from MPI. The MPI’s legal study does not explore any ways to re-
             draw the borders between patents and copyright but just takes the EPO
             and USPTO practise as an inevitable reality. They find that the EPO’s
             caselaw is contradictory and chaotic and blame this on Art 52.2c EPC,
             which they say has failed to provide clear guidance and should therefore
             be deleted. Business related algorithms are, they say, less likely to be
             patented at the EPO than algorithms that “stand in a tradition of en-
             gineering”. The MPI writers however do not try to provide a clear rule
             for distinguishing the two, and they oppose the idea of drawing a line
             between the physical and the logical (“technical inventions” vs “rules of
             organisation and calculation”) as done by lawcourts in the 70s and 80s,
             asserting that information is also a physical phenomenon. They propose
             that all legislative power concerning the limits of patentability be handed
             over to the EPO, which should then, at its discretion and as far as Art 27
             TRIPS allows, consult experts of interested parties for regular rewriting
             of its Examination Guidelines. Art 27 TRIPS demands that patents be
             “available in all fields of technology”, and the MPI understands “tech-
             nology” as “the useful arts” and is careful not to mention Kolle and other

             European theoreticians of the concept of technical invention. Summar-
             ily the study can be summarised as “Fraunhofer: software patents are
             unpopular in the software industry and dangerous to innovation and
             competition. MPI: Fine, so let’s legalise them quickly.”

     • Patent Lobbyism and Scripture Erudition in the name of Max Planck4

             Das Max-Planck-Institut f¨r Internationales Patent-, Urheber- und Wet-
             tbewerbsrecht in M¨nchen, neuerdings auch als “Munich Intellectual
             Property Law Center” (MIPLC) oder “Kaderschmiede in der Hauptstadt
             der Patentbewegung” (KHPB) bekannt, bet¨tigt sich seit Jahren als
             rechtspolitischer Wegbereiter des Privatbesitzes an allen Geisteserzeug-
             nissen, die sich irgendwie beanspruchen und verwerten lassen. Insbeson-
             dere der Lehrstuhl f¨r Gewerbliche Schutzrechte ist eng mit EPA, AIPPI,
             Großunternehmen und allen Schaltstellen der Patentbewegung in der
             Bundesregierung, der Europ¨ischen Kommission und bei den Vereinten
                                             u              a
             Nationen verflochten. Ratschl¨sse des Europ¨ischen Patentamtes sind
             f¨r Prof. Straus und Kollegen eine Quelle der Erkenntnis, die es zu
             ergr¨nden und zu predigen, niemals aber an volkswirtschaftlichen oder
             sonstigen Zweckbestimmungen zu messen gilt. Als Max Plancks Kollege
             Ernest Rutherford die Wissenschaft in “Physik vs Briefmarkensammeln”
             einteilte, verspottete er damit diejenigen Gelehrten, denen nicht prim¨r
                                           ¨      u                  a
             an der Erforschung objektiv uberpr¨fbarer Zusammenh¨nge gelegen ist.
             Es gibt jedoch einen informellen Maßstab, an dem MPI-Gelehrte ihre oft
                  u                                                        u
             willk¨rlich anmutenden Schriftauslegungen orientieren: die W¨nsche der
             “Wirtschaft”, d.h. der zusammen mit Straus im Beirat des Europ¨ischen
             Patentamtes (SACEPO) vertretenen Großkonzern-Patentjuristen, unter
             denen sich wiederum nicht wenige Alumni und G¨nner des MPI finden.

     • Nack 2002: Die Patentierbare Erfindung5

             Doctoral thesis on expanding scope of patentability, sold as a book for
             95 eur by Amazon

     1/ref=sr aps prod 1 1/028-2118006-9361368


To top