What particular element of the United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) proposal has initiated concern regarding software patents?
The United Patent Litigation System (UPLS) is heavily inspired from the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA). They have a lot of similarities, inside the FFII we call the UPLS the EU-EPLA, which is the EPLA rebranded with a EU flag on top to make it look like an EU project.
The UPLS and EPLA have in common that they are both international treaties, and not EU regulation (directive, council framework decision, etc…) per se. It means that other countries that are non-EU (such as Turkey, Iceland or even the United States) could potentially join the treaty. The fact that it is not an EU piece of law means that the legislator won't be the European Parliament. As we saw with other international treaties such as ACTA, those treaties are typically negotiated behind closed doors, and the Parliaments (the European one or the nationals ones) typically do not have a say over their content. The UPLS is mainly a piece of legislation written by bureaucrats of the Commission and Government officials, with no input whatsoever from members of those parliaments.
The pro-software patent lobby, mainly represented by EICTA members (mainly Philips, Siemens, Alcatel, Nokia, Ericsson) or BSA (heavily driven by Microsoft) called members of the EPP party some days before the vote of failed software patent directive, asking them to vote for rejection, and push for a central patent court instead.
The divergence of opinions of several courts in Europe (mainly Germany and UK) was the argument the Commission used in 2002 to issue a directive proposal on the subject:
With the elimination of different courts and creation of a central patent court for validity cases, the disparity of interpretations by different courts has been abolished.
This disparity is important, because it shows to the legislator where there is conflict of interpretation, and where the legislator should intervene to clarify.
Specialized patent courts
No judicial review via some kind of Supreme Court
If software patents are enabled by the UPLS, what might be the effects on how computer programmers work? Please give examples
1. Near obligation of out-of court settlement for most of software producers: while large software companies has the means and the ability to defend themselves and go until the end of the court procedure, most of the european software players don't have the financial ressources nor the time to afford litigation in court. This is what we explained in the FFII's submission in July 2006 at the public hearing organised by the Commission on the consultation: