EC pushes on with patent directive

The European Commission looks determined to ignore last week's calls for a rewrite of the software patent directive
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

The European Commission is pushing the EU Council to ratify the controversial software patent directive, sweeping aside the concerns raised last week by a European Parliament committee.

Last week the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament (EP) demanded that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) be started from scratch. The European Commission (EC) is not obliged to agree to the EP's request for a restart, but is under pressure to adhere to the will of the Parliament.

But an EC spokeswoman said on Friday that the Council is prepared to renegotiate the patent directive, but does not want to start again from scratch.

"The software patent directive is absolutely necessary," said the EC spokeswoman. "We're prepared to discuss things, but can't even get as far as discussing things if other institutions don't move things forward."

Anti-patent campaigners initially expected the EU Council to delay ratifying the directive for a few months due to the restart motion proposed by the EP, but the EC is urging the Council to go ahead with its original plans, appearing to ignore the EP's request.

The EC spokeswoman said it is frustrated that the EU Council, which had planned to ratify the directive on 17 February, has now postponed its plans.

"We're very disappointed that it's off the agenda for the 17th," said the spokeswoman.

As for the restart initiative, the spokeswoman said that JURI's plans have to be agreed in a full session of the European Parliament.

"It was only one committee [that asked for a restart]," said the spokeswoman. "In order for the committee's opinion to be adopted by the parliament it has to be voted by plenary."

But according to to one activist, a plenary vote would not be needed.

The last two weeks have been a rollercoaster ride for those campaigning against the directive. On 4 February, two days after JURI asked for a restart, the Polish Press Agency said that Poland would no longer stop the EU Council from ratifying the directive, although it said it would support any country's request for the directive to be delayed or revised.

On 8 February, the Spanish parliament unanimously passed a resolution against the EU Council's proposal for the software patent directive and called on the Spanish government to prevent the ratification of the Council's current proposal. On the same day UEAPME, the European association for small and medium business and crafts, said it welcomed the EP's demand for a restart due to concerns about the threat that the patent directive poses to SMEs.

Two days later the Dutch parliament passed a resolution that called on its government to oppose the adoption of the Council's proposal until the EC has decided whether to restart the entire legislative process.

Next week, the German parliament will vote on a motion that demands substantial modifications to the Council's present proposal.

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