European patent directive defeated

European patent directive defeated

Summary: It's been a long and arduous saga, but it looks like the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) has finally been soundly defeated, 648-14. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised by this result since it seemed likely at many points that this would get shoved through despite overwhelming opposition.

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TOPICS: Patents
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It's been a long and arduous saga, but it looks like the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) has finally been soundly defeated, 648-14. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised by this result since it seemed likely at many points that this would get shoved through despite overwhelming opposition.

It looks like the European Parliament (EP) called the European Commission's (EC) bluff, which means it may be a while before the issue pops up again -- back in March, EC commissioner Charlie McCreevy said that he wouldn't propose a new directive if Parliament rejects the current CIID.

Perhaps the outcome had been different had the EC listened to the EP in the first place and allowed the process to restart. Judging by the comments from some of the MEPs, the directive would have had a chance if the EC had accepted the proposed amendments from Parliament.

The defeat of the CIID doesn't mean the fight against software patents is over, of course. The U.S. still has a broken patent system that allows ridiculous software patents, and national patent offices in Europe still have different interpretations of what can and cannot be patented.

With the CIID behind us, at least for now, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) can work on strengthening Article 52 of the European Patent Convention which expressly denies patents on "programs for computers," though it has been weakened over the years by subsequent interpretation by the European Patent Office.

One issue that was brought up over and over again during the CIID debates was the need for Europe to "harmonize" with the U.S. on software patents. Harmonization is a two-way street. Since the EP has shot down software patents (for now) perhaps we should be making an effort to "harmonize" with the European Union by rejecting software patents in the U.S.

Topic: Patents

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8 comments
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  • Bottom line

    We the consumer win. Innovation of technology wins, the only loser is the CEO who won't get his fat million+ dollar bonus check at the end of the year... oh boo hoo.
    Linux User 147560
  • News: European politicians are not for sale....

    Big business tried to push this thing through, they failed.

    It was this American-style arrogance and disregard for due process that lost them the vote, not the contents of the bill.
    figgle
    • Bingo.

      Not that the contents were good; the US system is so broken and inaccessible that the small man needs to pony up incredible amounts of money... then come those infomercials from big corporations hwo'll say they will "help" you... as if it matters in the end because the giant corps buy everyone out in the end. And that's the most broken aspect of the lot.
      HypnoToad
  • To..

    Good to be true! I hope American Giants learn from this.
    xstep
  • Let's extend a cordial welcome...

    ... to all the European companies relocating at least part of their effort to the country with the best protections for software, and thus the best place to earn money.

    We probably won't see any major moves because the EU patent office will keep on issuing tens of thousands of software patents. In fact, the companies whose losses are the major impact of this decision will probably produce a surge of new applications, since they know a situation with greater clarity isn't coming soon.

    The EU has decided to reject the software industry. We'll just have to watch and see how much the European software companies are motivated to reject the EU.
    Anton Philidor
    • I would argue that...

      ...most of the original and "innovative" (I'm beginning to hate that word) done in the software industry was done before one could even patent software.

      I'd like to see software patents die in the US. But I don't expect it to happen. I'd also like to see the rediculous cost of acquiring a patent reduced to be in the range of the small time inventor who is skipping every other meal just to put together a prototype without having some company swoop down and take it from him. But I don't see that happening either.
      Zinoron
    • You're right; it's easier to move base to the US and then...

      offshore the actual development to India.
      HypnoToad
  • not a total victory

    A few points.

    1. Just as in the US people switch sides readily when they see who is going to win. This was closer than it looked.
    2. Many EU members have patent laws that include software patents. Those laws remain in force.

    It will be interesting to see if the software industry carries out its threats to leave countries that don't have software patents, as was threatened early in this debate. Personally I doubt they will.

    We need to stay on top of this story and provide a complete 25 nation backgrounder. Maybe from London, after they realize the Olympics aren't as great a prize as they thought. (I live in Atlanta. I know.)
    DanaBlankenhorn