The IPKat has been bombarded with helpful messages this morning to the effect that the proposed Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions has been rejected by the European Parliament. The vote was passed by 648 votes to 14, there being 18 abstentions.
The IPKat is mildly annoyed by the whole exercise. What WAS needed -- and is STILL needed -- is something that enables national patent offices around the European Union to identify the same inventions as being patentable or non-patentable, so we don't get the ludicrous situation in which the single market is segmented into lots of petty fiefdoms in which you can't be sure if you're going to be infringing valid patent rights or not. Even an arbitrary law which is bad can at least be of some use if it's clear and predictable. If it's wrong, it can be changed. As it is, an unwelcome and unseemly debate has taken place over the heads of the patent professions, between lobby groups who sometimes seem incapable of cultivating the fruit of any understanding which has not fertilised in the soil of their own self interest. Merpel says, what we actually need is some decent reform of the EU's appallingly ponderous competition laws: perhaps a rapid reaction mechanism should be created for dealing with any monopoly which truly stifles creativity and sucks life out of the market which it dominates.
Click through for commentaries in The Register, Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII), Business Week, ZDNetUK, Forbes.
The original proposal in 2002
Draft text in September 2003
Software Directive: history on Wikipedia