Green party pressures the EU to revise computer patent directive

Pressure to restart the process of drafting a patent directive for computer implemented inventions is growing as the Green Party petitions the European Parliament to send it back to the drawing board.

The move followed news on Monday that a group of 61 MEPs had also put forward a motion to have the draft sent back to the European Parliament for a first reading.

If granted, it would allow those concerned a fresh chance at defining the scope of what the final directive should fulfil, and ensure that exactly what is and what is not patentable is properly clarified. In the case of this particular directive, certain parties want to explicitly bar the patenting of software from the directive.

Austrian MEP Eva Lichtenberger, Member of the Legal Affairs, said: ‘To admit software patenting would be a big setback for the Europe’s growing IT sector. Small and medium enterprises would be hit especially hard as they cannot afford neither patenting fees nor the legal costs that would be involved. Member States should again consider if they are shooting themselves in the foot by pursuing US-inspired software patents. By doing so they would be gravely diminishing the innovative capacity and flexibility of European IT companies.’

A new first reading would also allow those that have had doubts over the current draft since it was approved in May to have their voices heard. Despite the approval in May, several member states have subsequently either withdrawn their supporting votes or reversed their votes entirely, leaving the draft without a majority in favour.

Opponents say that despite the original draft set out by the European Parliament outlining the need for safety measures to prevent the patenting of pure software, the subsequent draft written by the European Council of Ministers and voted for in May failed to adequately address this within its provisions. They claim that the intransigence of the Council over the matter has simply bred confusion and ill-will.

‘The situation in Council, who are now responsible for the legal procedure, is so confused that Parliament must again take the issue into its hands,’ continued Lichtenberger. ‘The Ministers committed a big mistake on 18 May when they ignored Parliament’s improvements and adopted a legislative proposal which principally serves the interests of big companies. Since then the situation has changed dramatically and some European governments were put under pressure by their own natioBnal parliaments to stop the introduction of software patents through the backdoor.’

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