Software patent directive rejected

Software patent directive rejected

Summary: In a shock move, the European Parliament has voted down the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive

TOPICS: Government UK

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to reject the directive on the patentability of computer implemented inventions.

A spokesman for the European Parliament said that 648 MEPs out of a total of 729 voted to reject the directive, which critics feared would widen the extent to which software could be patented.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) described this decision as a "great victory for those who have campaigned to ensure that European innovation and competitiveness is protected from monopolisation of software functionalities and business methods."

While many SMEs, free software advocates and software developers have spoken out against the directive from the start, various large companies have lobbied for the directive, often via campaign groups such as the Business Software Alliance, EICTA, CompTIA and the Campaign for Creativity.

These groups and the companies behind them have put significant funds and effort into arguing their cause. This included alleged threats to pull jobs out of Europe and trying to tempt European politicians to its cause with free ice-creams.

"This result clearly shows that thorough analysis, genuinely concerned citizens and factual information have more impact than free ice-cream, boatloads of hired lobbyists and outsourcing threats," said Jonas Maebe, a spokesman for the FFII.

"I hope this turn of events can give some people faith again in the European decision-making process," Maebe added.

The future of the directive is currently unclear. It is possible that a revised version could be debated in the future, but back in March Charlie McCreevy, commissioner for the Internal Market, said the Commission would not resubmit a new directive if the Parliament chose to reject the current version.

Topic: Government UK

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  • I'm undecided as to what's better - the rejection of software patents by the EP or London winning the 2012 Olympic bid. Good news in the UK arrives like our buses - in twos.
  • Good news only ? This is just fantastic! :-)

    I also liked the point of view of the article.
  • Good news for SMEs in general. Great news for European software firms.

    Will Berlusconi and co. really accept defeat and abide by the European Patent Convention from the 1970's or will they try yet again to snake it through in some other form, perhaps piggy backed to some lesser known bill.

    Most importantly this smooths the way for increased support for open file formats within Europe.
  • OHHH what a day its been, I didn't have to get up until 12pm, we have the G8, we've got the EU presidency, we won the Olympics, I've got pork for dinner and now this....

    ...much more than the stupid patent directive being defeated, my faith is now restored back in the EU where it belongs.

    yupeee, lets smash the French!!!
  • Good news. In Japan, software patent scheme has been working for some years, but now the authority is planning to place some ristictions on it. It's too dangerous to be left free.
  • Excellent and hope restoring news! Thanks to all those who sided on the factual side rather then the (self interested) emotional side. Especially ZDNet Ingrid for her excellent BSA article (keep in mind that I'm rarely in the habit of making compliments) that I'm guessing raised some eyebrowses here and there. And certainly not forgetting all the organisations, like the FFII, and people who have given the extra mile of effort willingly and freely.

    That said, I would still like to know who the 81 MEPs are that didn't vote against the software patent directive and why. Because the commercial lobbiests will believe that as long as they are funded for this topic it'll just be a matter of time before they'll reach the objectives they've been hired to fulfill (and they'll be looking for inroads to accomplish that). It's exactly that funding that needs to be killed dead. Along with a very clear message to those that are behind that funding that if they want to change things in the EU they should choose the democratic and 'open to public discussion' way rather then the 'behind the curtains' way or else.

    In short, it's not over yet. And the EU still needs to work on their decision making process but I'm more hopefull that they'll accomplish that then I was yesterday.

    Next point on the agenda. How to make (and keep on ensuring that) the booting out of software patents works out well for the EU economy and not so well for other economies. Because there will be overseas companies that still will want to make their agenda our agenda. And it is exactly those companies that need to be made perfectly clear that if they want to play on EU grounds they better follow EU rules and guidelines. Or else there's hell to pay.

    One thing is for sure. With software patents booted out in the EU various US companies looking to make a difference via innovation (rather then, dare I say, legalised extortion) are well advised to establish R&D businesses and such in the EU if they want to keep up with the rate of innovation (free from the overhead of plenty of legal related hours) generated in the EU from now on. That is, if such US based companies still want to do business in the EU a few years from now because falling behind in innovation speed too much is a sure way to get off of the customer short list in IT land.
  • Pfffew... What a relief. The most significant question that remains, is why the Council once again had the nerve to ignore what the Parliament had already decided over. It seems that all is not well in Europe's democratic system, and that organs with fewer people (and more power?) are more easy to corrupt and influence than a large group of saner people who actually defend the majority of the people they represent.

    There needs to be a better system in place to protect and shield the key figures of the EU from sleazy lobby work by big corporations, or at least it should be made clear to the public who roams the halls of power with fistfuls of money, and who are more interested in listening to that money instead of fulfilling their public duties.
  • Patenting software makes things very difficult for small software companies to compete with the much larger players. It also prevents interroperability, creating confusion for consumers, who, for example, can't understand why their MP3 player won't play back certain music tracks they've downloaded, or their DVD player won't play a movie they've just bought.

    Colin Tinto, Home Media Networks