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To read comments to this article, go here
Looking for Better Wording for EU SW Patent Directive
Monday, May 23 2005 @ 01:19 AM EDT

As you have no doubt heard, EU Parliamentarians have suggested wording to try to fix the wildly unpopular software patent directive. Some 250 amendments to the directive have already been proposed and will be voted on in July. You can read all about it in this article in eWeek:

European parliamentarians have put forward a list of more than 200 amendments to the European Union's proposed legislation on IT patents, which, if approved, would dramatically change the character of the controversial proposal.

At stake is whether the EU will bring in more permissive rules on software patents, bringing it into line with patent practices in the United States and Japan. Currently, patents on pure software and business processes are not enforceable, making it impossible for large companies to bring their patent arsenals into play in the region.

The system is seen as creating competitive advantages for the EU's open-source economy, and for EU-based IT companies, which don't have to worry about the overhead associated with patents on software. Open-source projects are considered especially vulnerable to software patents, and open-source leaders such as Linux Torvalds have spoken out against the current directive.

In addition, the EU Parliament is asking IP lawyers for a "legally clever" patent definition:

The European Parliament (EP) has enlisted the help of intellectual property lawyers to amend the directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions so that companies are prevented from patenting pure software.

The draft software patent directive was adopted in March, despite the EP's request to restart work on the directive. The EP's legal affairs committee (JURI) is now deciding how to amend the directive, before it is passed for a voted to a plenary session of the parliament in July.

Speaking on Tuesday, an EP spokesman said that JURI will seek the help of legal experts in a meeting next Monday to ensure that it knows the legal implications of any amendments to the wording of the directive. This is important to ensure that companies cannot patent pure software inventions, said the spokesman.

What is wrong with the old software patent directive wording? Let's let FFII tell us what they see. Here is a paper [PDF] they gave me permission to share with you, which lists some of the arguments proponents use to lobby for the current language, and then the FFII's suggested counterarguments.

You might enjoy reading this: "Why Can't I Patent My Movie?"


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