EC slipping software patents 'through backdoor'

EC slipping software patents 'through backdoor'

Summary: The European Patent Office's practice of granting software patents could yet be ratified, despite the defeat of the software patent directive earlier this year

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TOPICS: Government UK
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The European Commission is attempting to legalise software patents through the introduction of the EU Community Patent, according to an anti-patent campaigner.

The introduction of a Community Patent would allow inventors to obtain a single patent that is legally valid throughout the European Union, which would reduce the costs of filing and litigating a patent, according to the EC. It published a policy framework document on Wednesday advocating the need for a Community Patent.

"The absence of a Community Patent makes it difficult for many enterprises particularly SMEs to protect their inventions at a reasonable cost," said the EC in the document.

The Community Patent proposal document states that the "[European Patent] Office will apply to the Community patent the case law which it has developed for the European patent."

Florian Mueller, the founder of nosoftwarepatents.com, warned that if the Community Patent law follows the current practice in the European Patent Office (EPO), which continues to grant software patents despite the European Parliament's decision to reject the directive in July, it would have the side effect of software patents being formally legalised.

"A Community Patent regulation that effectively ratifies the case law of the EPO and thereby legalises software patents would be a Trojan Horse. We've got to watch out, and we will," said Mueller on Thursday.

Topic: Government UK

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7 comments
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  • Firstly, the EPO does not grant "software patents" - it grants patents for some inventions that use software, but that is a different thing entirely. In fact, inventions that relate to software 'as such' are explicitly excluded. (This is very much in contrast to the situation in the US, where software is very much patentable).

    Secondly, this is already approved in the law of the UK and other European countries. In fact, all EC member states except Malta are members of the EPO (Malta is a candidate country) and have to bring their national patent law in line with the European Patent Convention (in most areas, including the patentability of software, at least). There are some minor discrepancies in the way that this is implemented, which is why the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive was proposed. Unfortunately, the process was hijacked by those on both sides of the argument, through very heavy lobbying and spreading of misinformation.
    anonymous
  • The European Patent Convention (EPC) prohibits sw patents already, what's the confusion? Why not work from that base?
    anonymous
  • "Firstly, the EPO does not grant "software patents"

    Pffft! I doubt there's *anyone* who could still believe such absurd lies but one can always check the EPO patent database for oneself or look at these:

    http://webshop.ffii.de/index.en.html
    http://swpat.ffii.org/patents/samples/index.en.html

    If you are an especially naive patent attorney or patent troll whose business might be damaged by heeding such mischievous fantasies:

    http://www.mofo.com/news/updates/files/update141.html
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/ebooks/B000BCQ36W/reviews/104-8386725-2487104#b000bcq36w2300

    " - it grants patents for some inventions that use software, but that is a different thing entirely."

    Oh yes! If the software might be intended to be run on a computer - God forbid any programmer should do such an extraordinary thing - then it is patentable:

    http://www.european-patent-office.org/legal/gui_lines/e/c_iv_2_3_6.htm

    "In fact, inventions that relate to software 'as such' are explicitly excluded. (This is very much in contrast to the situation in the US, where software is very much patentable)."

    "Even modern technologies such as software are subject to widely unified treatment. Only when it comes to the very cutting-edge of the latest, controversial decisions can differences be discovered; most notable is the holding in State Street as opposed to that in Pension Benefits."

    http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dltr/articles/2003dltr0006.html

    "Unfortunately, the process was hijacked by those on both sides of the argument, through very heavy lobbying and spreading of misinformation."

    There was hijacking and misinformation alright - but from one side only: the side responsible for the "legal casuistry" of the Directive itself and whose despicable lobbyists were reported to the EU anti-fraud commissioner.

    http://eescopinions.esc.eu.int/EESCopinionDocument.aspx?identifier=ces\int\int145\ces1031-2002_ac.doc&language=EN
    http://www.epip.ruc.dk/Papers/ROSSI_Paper.pdf
    http://www.corporateeurope.org/lobbycracy/prc4c.html

    It's depressing to see the liars, extremists and parasites still at work in Europe, but in the UK at least, we have some wise and intellligent Judges:

    http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2005/1589.html
    anonymous
  • Should we be surprised that once set on a particular objective bureaucrats (of any flavour) will not seek for a way to circumvent the wishes of an elected assembly. Reliance on our judiciary to provide any safeguards is wishful thinking. At the end of the day the European court will side with the bureacrats - their jobs depended on doing that.
    anonymous
  • 95% of all people including companys don't want this pantent shit. So if this gies through. Well then EU is dead.

    After that everyone can say that EU that is equal to China. And for all who wants to be reelected for a new period. Forget it. You will rather recive rotten eggs and tomatoes. You are not welcome here anymore.
    anonymous
  • Lazy journalism. Florian Mueller cries "wolf" and ZDnet print the story. The Community Patent proposal is pretty much dead right now, despite a throwaway reference in an EC document.

    The Commission has had the goal of bringing a Community Patent into force for a long time, but if the journalist had bothered to check, there is no hope of agreement by the countries on a number of issues and there is no momentum right now to bring it into force.

    And the story is basred on putre scaremongering. If there was a Community Patent it simply means that instead of the EPO granting a patent for a computer implemented invention for the countries individually, it would grant a single patent for the EU members as a whole. The software patent issue is a red herring.
    anonymous
  • As long as patents and anything that has to do with them in whole hasn't been thoroughly checked and put and kept in place as agreed upon across the board there will be holes left that will be exploited by lobbiest and other commercially motivated parties. And these will be holes with high potential yet totally overseen by the misinformed and misguided (political) decision makers.

    As usual the devil is in the details. And as long as politicians don't get that there's absolutely no need for a singularity with enough force to impact the whole of Europa in one blow. Which is a crying shame in itself because a united Europa, yet with leadership that knows how to deal with all the rotten and dirty business tricks in the world, would be a force that the rest of the world will have to pay attention to.

    Thing is that there's a world of difference between what was said, what was agreed upon, what was understood, what was done, how things turned out, etc, etc.
    anonymous