|| ||"R.A.Matthews" <noreply-AT-ramatthews.free-online.co.uk>|
|| ||Software Patents in Europe|
|| ||Wed, 30 Mar 2005 18:48:21 +0100|
[Reply to: patent at ramatthews dot free-online dot co dot uk]
Recent, and worrying, articles on software patents in Europe led me
to contact my local European Member of Parliament: Chris Huhne.
I asked him for an update on the situation and he kindly obliged.
Note that Chris has been following this matter, so he should know -
though of course what I say here is my interpretation of what he says.
All this comes from an attempt to clarify how to deal with computer
related inventions, on a Europe-wide basis.
The Council of Ministers (representing the national
governments) has produced one set of words on the subject, and
the European Parliament (elected by the public) has produced
another. These two organisations must now work out an agreed
set of words.
Note that the Parliament has NOT been bypassed on this: the
two are discussing this and will continue to discuss it until
agreement is reached.
So far they have agreed a subset. Of particular interest
are the following:
1) US-style software patents will NOT be implemented in
Europe. Software, like mathematics, will be treated
as something abstract and so not suitable for patenting.
2) A hardware device, with all the required qualities
of newness, etc, will be patentable. Such a device could
contain software and when that software runs in the device
it will be covered by the device's patent. But when the
software runs outside the device, then the patent
does not apply.
3) The Commission (the EU's bureaucracy) will monitor the impact of
computer-implemented inventions on innovation and competition, both
within Europe and internationally, and on European businesses,
especially small and medium-sized enterprises, and the open source
community, and electronic commerce.
Now getting the wording right for (2) above, avoiding too
many grey areas and loopholes is the tricky part. However
there is a form of words available and, already, some
case law to support it, so it looks likely that it can
Note that (3) above is a straight quote from the currently agreed
text: nice to see open source explicitly mentioned.
An important area they are still working on relates to interoperability
between computer products. Apparently this requires great care
with the wording, but both agree that this is an important area
to be covered.
Robert A. Matthews
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