June 6, 2001

U.S. Internet patents to be enforced in EU ?

Author: JT Smith

Paris. 2001-06-05. The draft Hague Convention is to be revised from
June 6th. The Hague Convention defines a set of provisions for the
execution of foreign judgements in the event of international
disputes. Current drafts include industrial property and
intellectual
property within the potential scope of the proposed Convention. If
the
current draft were approved, the Hague Convention would eventually
allow:

1.to enforce US Internet patents in EU;

2.to enforce non-EU laws in order to censor EU Internet web
sites.

An EU company publishing on a server located in the EU a web service
which provides Internet airplane reservation services worldwide
could
be sued in the US by PriceLine for infringement on patent 5,794,207.
A
US judge could decide that this EU company should block access to
its
service to US citizens unless it gets a license from PriceLine.
Under
the current draft of the Hague Convention, such a judgement would
be
enforceable in the EU.

A researcher who publishes on a EU server an article on the
weaknesses
of encryption techniques used in the media industry (ex. CSS, SDMI,
etc.) could be sued in the US for infringing the Digital Millenium
Copyright Act. A US judge could decide that this EU researcher
should
block access to its research article to all US citizens. Under the
current draft of the Hague Convention, such a judgement would be
enforceable in the EU.

Because all known techniques to block access to a category of
citizens, people, country or IP adresses can be easily circumvented
through "email tunneling" (a technique which consists in
encapsulating
any Internet protocol into encrypted email messages), the only two
ways of enforcing foreign judgements which entail blocking access to
a
server require either to close EU services or contents which
infringe
on foreign laws, thus creating the conditions for global censorship,
or to prohibit encryption and deny privacy on the Internet.

Members of the Hague Conference include all EU countries as well as
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China,
Croatia,
Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, Georgia, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Republic of Korea,
Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Peru, Poland, Romania,
Slovakia, Slovenia, Suriname, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States
of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Some of these countries are well known for their aggressive software
patent practices or their restrictive laws on free speech. In
particular, EuroLinux feels very concerned by the eventual
enforceability of foreign Internet & software patents in Europe.
EuroLinux urges members of the Hague Conference to put on hold
current
plans to extend the execution of foreign judgements in the fields of
industrial and intellectual property until their effects on software
and the Internet have been carefully assessed.

References

CPT's Page on the Hague Conference on Private International Law's -
http://www.cptech.org/ecom/jurisdiction/hague.html

Hague Conference on Private International Law -
http://www.hcch.net/f/conventions/draft36f.html

Intellectual Property Draft -
http://www.cptech.org/ecom/jurisdiction/IPWorkgroup3.pdf

EuroLinux petition for a Software Patent Free Europe -
http://petition.EuroLinux.org/

PriceLine patent already in dispute -
http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/ctg949.htm

DeCSS Author Arrested -
http://www.slashdot.org/articles/00/01/25/0827258.shtml

Copyright Thugs - The SDMI, the RIAA and industry lawyers better get
something straight: preventing piracy doesn't mean you can punish
researchers -
http://www.thestandard.com/article/0,1902,24208,00.html

French hackers break SDMI, publish results -
http://www.linuxsecurity.com/articles/hackscracks_article-2370.html

About EuroLinux - www.EuroLinux.org

The EuroLinux Alliance for a Free Information Infrastructure is an
open coalition of commercial companies and non-profit associations
united to promote and protect a vigourous European Software Culture
based on Open Standards, Open Competition, Linux and Open Source
Software. Companies members or supporters of EuroLinux develop or
sell
software under free, semi-free and non-free licenses for operating
systems such as Linux, MacOS or Windows.

The EuroLinux Alliance launched on 2000-06-15 an electronic petition
to protect software innovation in Europe. The EuroLinux petition has
received so far massive support from more than 70.000 European
citizens, 2000 corporate managers and 200 companies.

The EuroLinux Alliance has co-organised in 1999, together with the
French Embassy in Japan, the first Europe-Japan conference on Linux
and Free Software. The EuroLinux Alliance is at the initiative of
the
www.freepatents.org web site to promote and protect innovation and
competition in the European IT industry.

Permanent URL for this PR

http://petition.EuroLinux.org/pr/pr11.html
http://petition.EuroLinux.org/pr/pr11.pdf

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