More work needed to protect European Union from patent trolls

In less than a month, European leaders will come together to finalize the draft rules of procedure for the Unitary Patent Court. On Tuesday, a diverse cross-industry coalition of nearly 20 companies and associations urged the European Union to make further amendments to the rules to support innovation, while deterring patent trolls from entering the EU patent space.

The rules of procedure are the blueprint for the Unitary Patent Court, which will govern patent disputes for most of the EU. If these rules are sound, companies doing business in Europe will be able to innovate more efficiently.

The current draft needs additional revision to meet that goal. As currently written, the sections on bifurcation and injunctions could lead to an influx of patent trolls, eager to exploit the new system that allows them to ‘hold up’ manufacturers without having to first prove their patent is valid.

Microsoft and other coalition members previously submitted proposed changes to the UPC that would provide more specific guidance on when to permit bifurcation and when to grant injunctions. We urge policymakers to fully adopt these recommendations in their March 18 meeting.

We continue to stand ready to support European policy makers in creating a system that will allow European innovation and competitiveness to thrive.

About the Author

Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Horacio Gutiérrez is Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel in charge of the Microsoft products and services group (PSG). In this role, he oversees the team that provides front-line legal support to all of Microsoft's engineering and marketing teams, including Devices and Studios, Applications, Services and Dynamics, Operating Systems, Cloud and Enterprise, and Marketing. Previously, Horacio led the worldwide intellectual property group, including the development, maintenance and enforcement of the company’s IP portfolio, inbound and outbound patent licensing, and IP legal and public policy strategy. Prior to his eight years leading the IP group, Mr. Gutiérrez was based in Paris, where he was Microsoft's associate general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mr. Gutiérrez started his career at Microsoft in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at the company’s Latin American regional headquarters, where he was responsible for commercial and corporate matters for the region.