Software patent directive adopted

Software patent directive adopted

Summary: Update: Opponents are furious that the EU Council has approved the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive. The future of software patenting in Europe now lies in the hands of the European Parliament

TOPICS: Government UK

The European Council adopted the software patent directive on Monday, despite requests from Denmark, Poland and Portugal to reject the directive.

An EU Council spokeswoman said on Monday morning that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive had been adopted, but was unable to give more details.

According to Florian Mueller, an anti-patent campaigner who watched the public part of the meeting, a minister from Luxembourg said the directive is being adopted to ensure that the Council adheres to its processes and to avoid creating problems for other directives.

"We are adopting the position for institutional reasons so as not to create a precedent which might have a consequence of creating future delays in other processes," the minister said, according to Mueller.

Last week it was reported that Denmark would attempt to have the directive listed as a B-item, rather than an A-item, allowing the text to be renegotiated. The Luxembourg minister admitted that Denmark, Poland and Portugal would have preferred the directive to be listed as a B-item, according to Mueller.

The directive will now be passed to European Parliament, which can reject or amend the proposal, for a second reading.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) accused the EU Council of ignoring the views of both the national parliaments that spoke out against the directive and the European Parliament, which demanded that the directive be restarted.

"This is a very sad day for democracy, and casts a very dark shadow over the European Constitution, which will give the Council even more power," said the FFII in a statement.

Mueller agreed that the Council's decision was "undemocratic". He said that getting the Parliament to reject or amend the proposal could be difficult

"The hurdle is very high as we need an absolute majority of every member of parliament, which means 367 MEPs for every amendment to the directive," said Mueller.

Hugo Lueders, the director of public policy at pro-patent organisation CompTIA, said he is pleased the Council has adopted the directive. He claims software patents are needed to ensure that the EU can keep to the goals set by the "Lisbon Agenda" --- that the EU will become the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy by 2010.

"We think this directive is overdue," said Lueders. "It's extremely urgent to proceed with the Lisbon Agenda, of which this directive is a key element."

Topic: Government UK

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  • I do hope this is an error, and wishful thinking from the EC.
    If it is true it is a very sad day for Europe and the World.
    The people responsible for this are criminals, the fact that it is white collar crime doesn't make it any better.
  • Any hope we might have had for tech innovation has now gone. It is a sad day.
  • Watch yourself Microsoft! You have just unleashed the full fury of the open source community now. You are now living on borrowed time.

    Nothing will stop what you have now begun.
    We will win through what we know best, sharing all our knowledge & skill, to do what you could NEVER DO, COMPETE.
  • With one hand they fine Microsoft 0.5 billion pounds. with the other they give them the means to make 500 billion pounds.

    And to think I *was* going to vote yes in the European constitution.
  • A mistake? Not just developers, any computer-using business would be hurt by this, especially in Europe.

    U.S. portfolio companies have had years to pick up patents on obvious things like shopping carts, online purchases, or even decades-old open standards. Allowing sw patents in Europe would basically allow the U.S. to walk all over *any* European business.

    Conversly, if Europe manages to kill sw patents, then the U.S. will be out of the ICT sector in short order.
  • Completly shamefull, an open attack on democracy.
    This will have an effect on the Constitutional Treaty.
    I cannot, and will not, vote for a Constitution that gives more power to a Concil and a Commission that doesn't represent me!
    I've allways wished for a closer Union across Europe. But I won't support an undemocratic one.
    I'll vote for a NO.
  • Not just the fury of opensource, the fury of the free world. We must stop this dictorship now! For freedom!
  • sad day. need a demonstration, our contempt and being blacklisted for any further elections.
  • OSS development is now going to be spearheaded in the third world.
  • anonymous
  • Software patents are long overdue. The reason the US has such a healthy software industry is in part due to the protection that patents afford companies who invest in software production. Creating software is a labour intensive (and therefore expensive) process and it is right that companies that invest in it can protect that investment during the life of a patent, just as a company investing in any other area of industry can gain the right to fully exploit the results of their work.
  • Software development is an iterative process with new developments being derived from previous ones. Allowing software processes to be patented means only big business will be able to develop software in the future. This will stifle innovation. This is a sad day for democracy, business and the consumer. Does the British government expect such practices to encourage people to vote for ratification of the EC constitution?
  • Mr. Ryan.

    By the same logic; creating a book or writing a symphony is labour intensive too. Would you agree to have those patented ?

    Software is protected by copyright. And that is more then enough protection. Software patents don't protect your investment, they stall innovation by blocking competition.

    You want to be rewarded 1000-fold for your work. Where is the honesty in that ?
    Well, you have to be prepared to reap what you sow. It won't be long before the advocates and judges will spend their time and your money on this nonsense, instead of real issues.

    And you are partly responsible for that.
  • ... but their work is fully protected by the copyright law. Patents don't protect their work, they protect and reserve ideas. Please, tell me one application that you use that has only one idea. If ideas likes one-click shopping, hyperlinks, progressbars and others can be patented, you can hardly speak of 'protecting innovation'.
  • The sheer ignorance of using US patent protection and the word "healthy" in the same sentence is repulsive. Seriously, I dont think anyone in the software industry with any insight would think this, which is why "DB Consulting" must be a lawyer firm.

    >> "The reason the US has such a healthy software industry is in part due to the protection that patents afford companies who invest in software production."

    In view of what the last few years has brought this seems is jaw-dropping. The ignorance does explain why this would get passed. A sad day for developmen and innovation indeed.
    My opinions are my own and do not have anything to do with my employer.
  • Let's not get overexcited - all this means is that the text proposed by the European Council will be passed over to the European Parliament for the next round of debate. The Directive is still very far from being adopted.
  • Mr Ryan...Its the fact that this ruling allows the patent holders to patent a number used in a specific way within a computer program...Its a bit like saying that we have a patent on middle C on a piano...

    This will allow Microsoft and many other dominant IT companies to litterally kill off ***all*** other competitors that are starting out...Software patents will destroy Europe...This is an absolute disaster for all of Europe...The domino effect of this is a complete and utter dictatorship on information.

    The whole of Europe was duped on something so massive as this...Its devistating!!!
  • We all know that big business and government are running hand-in-hand and simply ignoring everything and everyone to impose the will of lobbyists and businesses upon us all.

    It's a worldwide phenomenon with self-serving politicians and self-rewarding business leaders trying to take as much as they can get before retiring early and leaving the world a far worse off place than they found it.

    Now we have the giant of computing forgetting that their industry is built on the inventions of men from Babbage to Turing and so many others, who gave their discoveries and inventions to the world - these companies are patenting the most trivial of work. If any of the fields original pioneers had patented everything the did, there would be no IBMs or Microsofts to lobby - they would be tiny companies living of what they can make in between the licensing fees of a thousand patents.

    It's a joke and the EU politicians make me sick. I can't wait for the revolution, where these idle fools are swinging from lamposts - especially Glenys Kinnock MEP, she won't be ignoring my concerns and sending out stock party line responses then!
  • Money beats democracy, hands down. Sad.
  • I think I'll quit. Maybe I'll retrain as lumberjack.
    I'm a programmer, and have always thrived in being the underdog with good ideas - my lively hood is now gone.