Patent Trolling is an Art – Cocorico

[ Written for Simon Says column on Computer World UK ]

‘France, Mother of Arts…’ wrote XVIth century poet Joachim du Bellay in the collection ‘The Regrets’. If Patent trolling is an Art, we can indeed only regret to see France coming in first position, with an undeniable masterpiece financed by the State and celebrating its third birthday this month: France Brevets – a unique institution. Its supposed mission is to “help French SMEs to protect their inventions against the patent trolls threat” – according to an instructive article published in Le Monde last week.

Sadly and without much surprise, the organisation itself is no more no less than a National Patent Troll, literally a “non-practicing entity” – NPE – whose only purpose is to aggregate patent pools to get the “best” out of licensing possibilities. How? By suing potential infringers of all kinds and making them pay royalties. The devilish objectives are not even hidden: “by offering to exploit your patents outside of your core business, France Brevets explores new opportunities for promoting your patents,” they say in their own website. “The broad spectrum of a patent may cover other fields of use and may interest other companies in other sectors”, they add without a hint of morality.

Why should you always be off-track France, why? Was the experience of the “three strikes” law not enough? How can you not hear the voice of the hundreds of citizens, companies and nonprofits active on your territory calling on you to defend innovation and freedom? Surely the meshed society is now sufficiently obvious; even Neelie Kroes can see it. Instead you pride yourself on such a miserable initiative – this, against currents of the whole International community now globally united against patent trolls.

At least this is happening openly, so we are warned. After all, the French Government might simply have anticipated the proposed Unified Patent Court having its seat in Paris and sneakily decided that it would be good if a National structure could somehow benefit from it. This one is hidden in plain sight – as we say, “the bigger it is, the less you’ll see it.” What could be cleverer than a patent troll under National control to get the best out of the patent plague? Long live France, long live my country.