zoobab writes: "France is creating a state sponsored patent fund, FranceBrevets, which primary focus will be to sponsor, acquire and license patents in the ICT (read software patents) sector. The patent fund is at the initiative of the minister of Research, Valérie Pécresse, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and digital economy, Eric Besson. The primary target of the fund is to collect licenses on those patents, which is already seen in France as the biggest patent troll of the country. France is also supporting the European Unitary Patent, which is seen by many at the final attempt to validate software patents in Europe."
AnteTempore writes: The Danish Consumer Agency has announced a verdict in a case where a Danish consumer gets 850 DKK (115 EUR) in return for his Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium license.
The consumer had bought a computer at the supermarket, Aldi. The computer contained Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium. In the license it says:
"By using the software you accept these terms. If you cannot accept the terms, you do not have the rights to use the software. Instead contact the producer or whoever has installed the software to learn how you get a refund or store credit." (My translation from Danish).
The store refused to refund the license. The consumer asked for a refund of the retail price 1489 DKK, but the Danish Consumer Agency decided the price of 850 DKK was fair.
The strong point in this case is that The Danish Consumer Agency takes a stand. While they do not have the power of a Danish court, the Danish courts' decisions are usually influenced if there is a verdict from The Danish Consumer Agency. It remains to be seen if this verdict makes it possible for all Danish consumers to get a refund, or if they will have to go through The Danish Consumer Agency.
As Danish law is different for consumers and companies the verdict does not indicate if companies can claim a refund.
thecarchik writes: Scientists in Europe are working closely with major industry and government as part of a new initiative called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which hopes to develop self-driving technology that will allow vehicles to drive autonomously in long road trains on the highway. The team behind SARTRE has now conducted its first real world test, using a sole Volvo S60 sedan that followed a lead truck around the automaker’s test facility near Gothenburg, Sweden. In the video, the driver is free to take his eyes off the road and his hands off the wheel. In fact, he neither uses his hands nor feet during the test. Subsequent phases of the work to be carried out in 2011 and early 2012 will see the concept demonstrated on a five-vehicle road train with strategies handling interaction with other road users.
zoobab writes: The Staff Union of the EPO (SUEPO) sent a letter to the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, warning of risks for the European Parliament to be "circumvented" as a legislator when the EU will accede to the European Patent Convention (EPC). The European Patent Organisation is everything except a model of democracy: national patent offices are in power, there is no parliament involved in the decision making process, and diplomatic conferences are held behind closed doors. There are plans to create a central patent court in Europe, which would operate in a democratic vacuum, as it would not be counterbalanced by any legislative assembly, let alone the European Parliament. Such central patent court could also validate software patents via caselaw (as it was recently done with the Microsoft FAT patent by the German Supreme Court), and Microsoft, IBM or SAP are lobbying in Brussels not to reopen the software patent directive.