UK-based EasyScreen destabilised by UKPO-granted software patents
24 March 2005 -- The UK-based EasyScreen has accepted a takeover bid from another company. The reasons are twofold. On the one hand, it has had problems creating a new version of its software, but on the other hand there was also the legal uncertainty introduced by patent infringement claims coming from the US-based Trading Technologies. Their threats are based on two software patents granted by the UK Patent Office, which would be validated if the Council text were to be adopted.
US-based Trading Technologies has obtained two software patents from the UK Patent Office:
Equivalents of those patents are pending at the European Patent Office, and Trading Technologies has noted it expects the EPO to grant them soon. This is indeed the case for at least one of those patents, as can be seen (during CET office hours) at the European Patent Office online file inspection website:
EP1319211 (equivalent of GB2377527, latest entry "Decision to grant a European patent pursuant to Article 97(2) EPC")
The consequences of the patent infringement claims by Trading Technologies against EasyScreen, a UK-based competitor of Trading Technologies, are clear:
EasyScreen maintains that its software is not at material risk from TT's patents. Nonetheless, says Philip Docker, EasyScreen chairman, "the uncertainty is having an impact in signing of new contracts and I expect this uncertainty to continue for some time to come". In particular, a major deal with Man Financial, announced by
EasyScreen last October, has been put on hold indefinitely until outstanding patent issues have been resolved.
This is the "legal certainty" which the European Commission and Council want to provide to the whole of Europe, and which the European Parliament's first reading text from September 2003 would stop.