Thursday, January 17, 2008

Give me an E, a P, a L and an A, and I'll give you the London Protocol

Such might be the title of the current ongoing political debate between France, and Germany, at least if the rumours in the European IP grapevine are true.

Indeed, in the very true spirit of intergovernmental political negotiation, it appears that the French government is holding back on filing its instrument of ratification with the European Patent Office (EPO) on the London Protocol, at least until the German government agrees to abandon the dual court system for trying invalidity and infringement and wholeheartedly and unreservedly adopts the EPLA.

As one might guess, the German government doesn't appear to be particularly keen on being held hostage in this way.

When I submitted the question of this rumour to our representative professional body, all I got in return was a rather laconic, "the French government will soon be filing its instrument of ratification with the EPO". Well, that was in early December 2007, and still nothing appears to have happened, so maybe there is some truth to the rumour after all. Sigh.

Of course, political bickering and blackmail between states is nothing new, often it is simply called "diplomacy" failing a more honest appraisal of the situation. Like most things here in Euroland, however, this form of diplomacy wreaks havoc with legal certainty, and evidently stands in the way of getting anything done, not to mention the strategy that we, as counsel, might have with regard to our clients in attempting to offer them the best protection for the least amount of financial outlay. Of course, the French government believes it has the upper hand, but in the end, I personally feel they've chosen the wrong hostage to hang up and threaten with a knife to the jugular. If I were paranoid, I'd probably say that it was thanks to the own workings of our internal representative body which was strongly against ratification of the London Protocol, and that they have now found a way of leveraging pressure just to put the axe in one more time. Of course, I have absolutely no proof of my paranoid theories, and maybe I should just sit down with a cup of tea and take my tablets like a nice boy ;-) - there, there, that's better, now, where was I ?

Back some time soon no doubt for further mind numbing, I mean, thought provoking :-) adventures.

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