The French National Assembly zips through the Unitary Patent in 48 hours
On 13 February 2014, the French National Assembly examined the bill authorising France to sign the agreement creating a Unified Patent Litigation System [fr]. The (non-public) debate on this text had taken place in the Foreign Affairs Committee less than 48 hours previously, with its report unavailable on the National Assembly's website 24 hours before the review in plenary —it was available on 13 February, though [fr]. Yet it took only a few seconds to examine the text.
This was its last reading at any of the Chambers, however. The text had been adopted by the Senate already, and was under a fast-track procedure.
April regrets that this text was once more viewed as purely technical, despite being dangerous to innovation in general and free software in particular. Its implementation, as currently planned, is indeed cause for worry to April: most aspects of the project would be handed over to the European Patent Office (EPO), whose slant toward software patents has been exposed for a long time. This legally-shaky text was thus subject to heavy criticism from numerous parties: businesses, but also scholars, citizens, etc.
“Once more, an international agreement is endorsed by the Parliament without any evaluation of its economical impact or political significance” regrets Jeanne Tadeusz, April's Public Affairs Officer. “Both the National Assembly and the Senate adopted a lame, questionable and questioned text without a hinch, without any public debate or in-depth discussion of its consequences.”
However, the Unitary Patent is not in force yet: France is but the second country (after Austria) to have adopted the text, whereas a minimum of 13 Member States (including France, Germany and Great Britain) must ratify it in order for it to come into force.
For more information on the Unitary Patent, please visit unitary-patent.eu, and read in particular Only Gandalf can protect Europe from the Unitary Patent.