Last-gasp attempt to block patent directive

The EU software patent directive was scheduled to be adopted next Monday, but a last-minute move by Denmark could now derail the process
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor and  Matt Loney, Contributor

Opponents of the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive are set to launch a last-minute intervention to try and prevent it being adopted by the European Council.

The directive, which many claim will allow the widespread software patenting in Europe, is scheduled to appear on the agenda of a meeting of competition ministers on Monday 7 March.

As an A-item, the directive had once again been expected to be approved without debate, but it emerged late on Friday that Denmark will attempt to have the directive listed as a B-item at a later meeting instead. This means the text of the directive could be renegotiated, according to Florian Mueller, an anti-patent campaigner.

"If it works out like that this will be EU history. It is without precedent that anybody can specify that the EU council at the stage is unable to ratify a decision. But we have to understand that nothing is ever stable. We have to see what happens on Monday," said Mueller.

Denmark's representative at the meeting of ministers is compelled to ask for the change because of a vote by the Danish Parliament's EU committee that came out in favour of seeking to reopen discussions. Denmark's government is legally bound to adopt any parliamentary decisions regarding the EU.

Denmark's move could provoke a domino effect, encouraging other countries such as Poland and Spain -- who have concerns about the directive -- to also push for renegotiation.

"This is like a chain reaction. Everyone has said 'We don’t to be the only ones who spoil the party'," said Mueller. "We are now seeing the dominoes collapsing all the way, but it looks like Denmark will be the first one to start the reaction."

But other reports on Friday claimed that the directive will be adopted at Monday's meeting.

A Luxemburg official told Reuters that competition ministers were expected to approve the directive as an A-item.

"We have not seen any change of heart on the part of any EU member," said the official, whose country holds the European Union presidency.

Editorial standards