EP: 'Patent directive is flawed'

A group of intellectual-property lawyers have agreed that the software patent directive needs tightening up

JURI, the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament, agreed on Monday that the directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions includes serious flaws that would allow 'pure software' to be patented.

JURI invited a number of intellectual-property lawyers to a public hearing on Monday, to help create a watertight criteria for the patentability (or not) of software. A JURI spokesman said the legal experts agreed that the definition of technical contribution in the proposed directive is misleading, but were unable to reach a consensus on what wording should be used.

François Pellegrini, an associate professor in computer science at ENSEIRB, said the failure to define what constitutes a technical contribution "has enabled the European Patent Office to say that any software incorporated in an invention can be patented", according to the spokesman.

Opponents of the directive's current form say that a rewrite is needed to avoid allowing patents for pure software, while giving patent protection to inventions that use computer programs.

Michel Rocard, the rapporteur for the JURI committee, must now come up with a proposal for how the directive should be amended. The JURI committee will vote on Rocard's proposed amendments on 20 June.