*Is the legal battleground going to kill access to foreign innovation for EU nat…

By | March 3, 2012

*Is the legal battleground going to kill access to foreign innovation for EU nations?

It seems the 2012 privacy laws are going to have a large effect on US-based companies, not just on the big players. The biggest killer is that companies targeting Europeans will need to comply with European laws. This means not just major players, but also startups (in particular US-based ones) need to too. That could be an extremely costly barrier encouraging companies to shy away from the European market until after they have established themselves – perhaps not the route the EU Commission has in mind.

Reshared post from +EuroTech

Battleground Europe: a week in review
It was a busy week in Europe, not only for the innovators but also because some large companies went head to head with each other in court and some were confronted by the tightening European rules.

The ongoing patent battle in the mobile industry still makes headlines. This morning the news broke that Samsung didn´t get its way claiming the 3G/UMTS patents in Germany. The Mannheim regional court threw out Samsung´s claims as they are considered industry standards, so Samsung should give Apple a license for a reasonable fee. The ´slide to unlock´ was judged as well, but this time Apple´s win in Germany was narrower. Both parties will appeal, of course.

Earlier this week, Google-owned Motorola had a set-back in the ongoing war with Apple. A German judge considered an Apple patent dealing with photo management strong enough to issue an indictment against Zoom and some other Motorola devices. Not a big deal as Samsung was forced to change some UI software last December due to a Dutch court decision. Samsung fixed the problems in a few weeks and so will Motorola. The question if Apple can really claim these software patents has not been settled yet, but seeing the different implementation in Android 4.0 the final court case will not have any bearing on actual sales of Android models.

Meanwhile Apple can´t offer its iCloud and iMessenger services anywhere in Germany so most of the real harm has been inflicted on Apple so far.

Europe has been the main battle zone in the last few months, so it´s interesting to follow as decisions made by judges here will no doubt influence the outcome elsewhere. After all, most of these patent claims have never been tried in court. Most of them were just filings at the different patent offices in the world so the outcome of the first real court cases will set the tone.

To conclude this brief on the Euro scene we shall take a short look at the European commission.

Google got its first warning shots from the European Commission regarding its new uniform user agreement. The day the new policies for YouTube, Google Search, Mail, Apps and G+, to name just a few got enforced, Google received a warning. The European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding warned Google that the privacy watch dogs in Europe are not happy with the new terms and conditions.

Is Europe capable of more than a warning? Yes and No. At the moment privacy is controlled by a directive which member states have to implement. So Google will face some problems with the strict German privacy policy. As it´s the largest market in Europe there will be some head scratching in the GooglePlex. After all, main competitor Facebook gave in to the pressure a few months ago and uses a more strict set of rules for Europe than for the American users.

The biggest danger for Google will be the new 2012 set of privacy laws in Europe. Once they are in force (which is expected in 2013, possibly 2014) there is no new need for member states to make their own implementation. The law will be identical across Europe and the penalties will be huge. Oh, and there will be no escaping by claiming Google is an American company: the new law doesn´t bother with your country of origin but will just stop you from offering your services to 550 million customers!

Like we said, it was a busy week in Europe so another European Commission, Neelie Kroes who runs the Digital Agenda clashed with the large telecom providers. After making clear that the roaming tariffs (the price you pay for calls and data traffic when you cross a European border) have to go down even further, the head of the Telecom operator lobby, Luigi Gambardelli of Vodafone spoke out loud and publically against the ´overregulation´ in Europe. No wonder as these roaming tariffs are the profit cows of the telecom sector.

If Europe wants to have a free market for people and goods, this has to end of course, so Kroes whose task it is to promote the European digital integration didn´t give in. The result of the spat: a joint statement by the Vodafone head honcho and Kroes to humor the public. It speaks about the importance of ICT research for Europe and is worth the quote:

"Information and Communication Technology is responsible for half of Europe's productivity growth and a quarter of our GDP growth. ICT is therefore at the heart of our economy. ICT research and development also plays a large and growing role in overall European research – constituting already 25% of business R&D. In the recent past, an initial €120 million EU investment enabled today's 3G mobile market – now worth €250 billion. Further public investment in ICT research and development, as outlined in the Commission's ambitious Horizon 2020 proposals, would enable further successes like this. Horizon 2020 is therefore key to Europe's future competitiveness and tackling our essential social challenges – these investments will help create tomorrow's jobs and growth."

The figures are interesting but we caught the main message and put it in bold. A clear warning to the large telecom providers and a definite win for the European Commission.

Are you interested in reading a weekly review of the main developments in tech politics and court cases or did you lose all trust in European tech policies and courts?

Further reading:
EuroTech article on European privacy rules : https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/118292867302583509179/118292867302583509179/posts/87PhQXQN9xM

Author: +Max Huijgen

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4 thoughts on “*Is the legal battleground going to kill access to foreign innovation for EU nat…

  1. Sophie Wrobel

    +John Despujols It's not a secret that if you're launching a startup that benefits from data trafficking, Europe is the wrong place to headquarter. But hiding under the US umbrella and then inviting Europeans on US legal terms works. That has two sides: yes, spam lists are bad. But at the same time, social network platforms aren't necessarily evil. It isn't about taking features away, but may hinder new developments from launching in the EU early because of the way the rules are laid out.

    +Michael-Forest M. No, but now I have, thx for the tip! Google being big does often stand in the spotlight, but they do try harder than various other companies which manage to bash themselves badly enough to avoid needing a bashing-seminar to come up with reasons to bash them. I'd consider the presence of such a seminar more of a reflection of lobby activity taking place. Let's see how successful their lobby is.

  2. John Despujols

    No, if anything European rules are more anti-trust and pro consumer. The market is still there for anybody who wants to follow the rules. In many ways their rules are more conduce to innovation and new ideas by not overburdening the market with excess copyright. I don't see anything outlined in this article where the rules are taking features away from the customers except when Apple sues to stop everyone else from using a universal feature. .


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