The OpenTechSummit will take place for the first time in Berlin on May 14, 2015 with the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure as a core partner and supporter. The Free and Open Source technology event brings together policy makers, developers, start-ups, and contributors. Topics at the OpenTechSummit range from future technologies, open hardware, encyclopedias, open data and free knowledge, software development, community networks and digital policies. In the evening there will be an “OpenTech-Himmelfahrt” lounge.
Social democratic ministers from six EU countries published reform proposals for the highly controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. ISDS gives foreign investors the right to bypass local courts and use international arbitration to fight out conflicts with states. The claimants have a 50% influence on the make up of the arbitral tribunals.
Wikileaks has released the “Investment Chapter” from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. It contains the highly controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS), which makes it possible for multinational to sue states for international tribunals. For a first analysis see Public Citizen. I will point out one aspect of the TPP ISDS section: it is rigged to the advantage of the U.S.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is the most used ISDS forum. Investors can choose this forum: article II.18.3 (a) and (b) TPP ISDS text. Continue Reading →
The European Commission investigates a permanent international investment court as a replacement of the controversial investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS). The plan for a court and the road map towards it are fundamentally flawed. To protect our democracy the European Parliament has to reject both ISDS and court. Former vice-president of the European Commission in charge of justice and now member of the European Parliament international trade committee Viviane Reding proposed to replace ISDS with a permanent international investment court. Commissioner for Trade Malmström supports the idea. Continue Reading →
Today EU commissioner Malmström gave a speech in the European Parliament trade committee on investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS). ISDS gives foreign investors the right to use arbitration against states, instead of using local courts. Malmström made clear that she does not want to change the trade agreement with Canada (CETA), which contains a highly controversial ISDS section. The CETA text was used for the ISDS consultation. If CETA is ratified, multinationals from the US and other countries will be able to use the ISDS mechanism in CETA against the EU and its member states. Continue Reading →
A Vrijschrift letter to the Dutch Parliament highlights the dangers of investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in the trade agreements with Canada (CETA) and Singapore (EUSFTA). On 25 March EU trade ministers will meet (informally) to discuss trade agreements and ISDS. In preparation, the Dutch Parliament trade and development committee meets on 11 March. Today Vrijschrift has sent this committee a letter. Original in Dutch, translation:
The European Commission acknowledges that the unitary patent is not safeguarded against the granting of software patents by endorsing the EPO teaching:
21. Will the new unitary patent regime facilitate the patenting of computer programmes? The patentability requirements for European patents with unitary effect are identical to those of “classical” European patents. The envisaged regulation on unitary patent protection does not contain any particular disposition or derogation on the patentability conditions for inventions. As to the patentability of software, Article 52(2) of the European Patent Convention provides that programs for computers do not constitute a patentable invention. Continue Reading →
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren turned against investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS): “Why create these rigged, pseudo-courts at all?” Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, posted a response to Warren on the White House website. In turn, Simon Lester, trade policy analyst with Cato’s Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, refuted his arguments. I would like to add a point that does not play a role in the debate in the U.S.: ISDS is rigged to the advantage of the U.S. While this may seem advantageous to the U.S., it can turn against the U.S.
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is the most used ISDS forum; investors can choose this forum. In practice the US appoints the president of the World Bank. Continue Reading →
Since 1 January 2015 online traders in the EU, selling items like “laser swords” in an app, have to apply the applicable value-added tax (VAT) rate to their purchases and submit the tax to the applicable tax authority of the responsible European member state. The new rules affect “laser swords”, document templates and SaaS but not traditional ecommerce trade of physical goods. Fortunately there is a “mini-one-stop-shop”, that is a single point of contact, subject to your registration, to declare and distribute the VAT. For your apps you have to engineer complicated solutions to determine the applicable member state of a net customer. The situation gets easier when your customer is a company with a VATIN, that is the European number of a VAT registered company. Continue Reading →
The German delegation to the Council puts the axe against the data protection regulation. The trick is a special new pseudonyme data proposal. This shows a document from the Germans that was published by Statewatch. Under specific circumstances further processing which leads to revealing (re)-identification of the data subject should be allowed if the controller demonstrates compelling legitimate grounds which override the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject (Art.6 (5)). The controller shall consider all the determinants of risk and assess whether a threat to the data subject exists. Continue Reading →
The EU wants to create a Unified Patent Court (UPC). I will discuss some aspects of the UPC and make two more general remarks on (adjudicative) system design. The UPC proposal has a twist; it tries to minimise the role of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). This may lead to an expansionist interpretation of patent law. According to Josef Drexl, director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, this could easily amount to a mistake of historic dimensions:
“The policy argument behind this is to concentrate patent law cases before highly specialized patent courts and to prevent, as far as possible, any general law court from controlling the specialized court. Continue Reading →