THE RETURN OF THE EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENT DIRECTIVE

The Register reports that the Council of Ministers has passed the European Software Patent Directive, stripping out all of the amendments made to it by the European Parliament last September. The European Parliament’s version limited the scope of what could be patented to software that supported new physical processes. However, the Council’s draft allows for direct software patentability of computer programs, data structures and process descriptions. It is argued that there are 3 main “sticking points” with the new version: (1) there is no definition of what counts as a technical contribution (computer programs must make a technical contribution to be considered inventive); (2) the issue of the need to ensure interoperability is not dealt with and (3) program claims will be allowed, which will mean that supplying patented code will also be an infringement of the patent, rather than just running it on a computer. However, Jeremy Philpott of the UK Patent Office has said that the new version will not lead to more computer programs becoming patentable. “…There will be no change to UK law. The whole point was that what is patentable today, will be patentable tomorrow, and what is not patentable today will still not be patentable tomorrow” he said.

The IPKat is watching the continued passage with interest. Subject to any last-minute hitches, the draft should be formally passed by the Council of Ministers on 17 May, following which it will return to the European Parliament for a second reading.

Software patents; history, examples and opposition
Softwear here and here
THE RETURN OF THE EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENT DIRECTIVE THE RETURN OF THE EUROPEAN SOFTWARE PATENT DIRECTIVE Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 Rating: 5

12 comments:

  1. FFII is dangerously non-objective and must be interpreted as such.

    It is appropriate that there is no definition of "technical contribution": that's left to the courts, just like many other legislative definitions.

    Interoperability should be addressed, but if not, likely that the courts would read it in.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The poster above says:

    Interoperability should be addressed, but if not, likely that the courts would read it in.Actually, this is extremely unlikely. The interoperability rules in Article 6a of the amended directive caused the Americans immediately threaten at WTO TRIPS violation complaint. If software patents don't let rights holders monopolise standards, they lose most of their teeth. There's no way courts are going to read in such a substantial change to exclusive rights from thin air.

    FFII may not be disinterested observers, but it's a bit silly to call them "dangerous". Patents granting monopolies on file formats and network protocols are dangerous.

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