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[Fsfe-france] Brevets sur les marches financiers

From: Laurent GUERBY
Subject: [Fsfe-france] Brevets sur les marches financiers
Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2005 21:15:54 +0100


Futures exchanges brace for patent suits
By Alex Skorecki
Published: February 23 2005 20:02 | Last updated: February 23 2005 20:02

European exchanges, brokers and traders are preparing for possible legal
battles with Trading Technologies, a US software company.

TT, run by a former Mississippi catfish farmer, Harris Brumfield, has
won damages for patent infringement from the Chicago-based brokerages
Kingstree Trading and Goldenberg Hehmeyer, both of which settled
remarkably quickly.

The independent software vendor has launched another case of patent
infringement against eSpeed, the electronic arm of the US brokerage
Cantor Fitzgerald. Earlier this month the judge, in an interim
decision, made comments favourable to TT's case, saying that eSpeed
had not raised substantial questions against it.

TT has 80 patents in the pipeline around the world.

The momentum building behind TT's campaigns has made European
exchanges and brokers nervous about the implications. London-based
Euronext.Liffe would make no comment, nor would German-Swiss Eurex.

In Europe, patent litigation in the futures industry is a much rarer
phenomenon because it is harder to patent software inventions. But the
TT case is threatening to change that. In London this week, lawyers
from Clifford Chance briefed a roomful of traders and other futures
industry participants on the state of affairs and what they might need
to do to defend themselves.

Vanessa Marsland, a Clifford Chance partner in the intellectual
property practice, said: "In the US, patent damages can be

She added: "Independent software vendors may have to reconsider the
way they do business, and in particular the way they roll out new
software to customers."

TT has proposed to the four main futures exchanges -- two in Chicago,
plus Euronext.Liffe and Eurex -- it should be paid a fee for not
starting patent infringement cases against them. It has taken out
full-page advertisements in the Financial Times and The Wall Street
Journal setting out its argument in an open letter. TT wants 2½ cents
for each side of a trade, which would amount to revenue of about $130m
annually. The company's successful cases so far have been
with parties that it had previously had good relations with. This has
led some to question why these parties chose to settle so readily.

The situation is being made harder for potential defendants because
the cases so far have all been sealed, so that no one else can see the
documents involved and what the evidence is on each side.

In the US, the Futures Industry Association, which represents market
participants, has asked for the documents in the eSpeed case to be
unsealed, so far without success. TT's open letter said that
if the exchanges rejected its request for 2½ cents per trade, it
would instead raise the price of its software and step up its
litigation programme. But it also said it might accept a takeover
offer if the right offer emerged.


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