Strong Opposition to Attempts to Legalize Patents on Software in Europe

Seth Johnson seth.johnson at
Wed Apr 14 19:24:42 UTC 2004

Today, strong opposition is being expressed to attempts to legalize software
patents in Europe. A demonstration is taking place in Brussels today and
tomorrow, along with a "legislative benchmarking session" in the EU
Parliament addressing the nature and status of software and proposals that
have arisen to legalize patents on software in Europe.

This is important because if software patents are stopped in Europe, this
will initiate a much more forthright addressing of numerous policies related
to digital technologies.

SUMMARY: In Europe, patents do not cover software.  The European Patent
Convention of 1973 specifically excludes "computer programs as such" from
patentability.  However, over the last few years, patent professionals for
particular industries and within the European Patent Office (EPO) have
interpreted "as such" in extremely creative ways in order to circumvent this
condition.  In response, the EU Parliament recently provided clear language
defining the distinction between software and valid subject matter for
patents through detailed amendments to a "Directive on Computer-Implemented
Inventions" that had been presented to them for ratification by the EU
Council and Commission.  The EU Council has entirely eliminated this
language from the Directive in a second round of legislative activity. 
Demonstrators are gathered today and tomorrow in Brussels as a result.



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