Wrote to my European parliament member and asked him to oppose US attempt to bugger up free software. Have to say I am not an expert on this subject and just trying to do the right thing. Got this response:
Dear Mr Teehalt
Thank you for your email of 18 October 2003 with regard to the
proposal for a
Directive on "The Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions,"
known as the Software Patents Directive.
The Commission's proposal sets out to clarify the patent regime in
and to curb any tendencies toward the United States' model of
and permissive patenting. In a world where technology, electronics and
computers are used more and more in our machines, gadgets and cars,
proposal seeks to establish and standardise some type of status and
for innovation in these fields. It also aims to harmonise patent
across the EU, so that inventors can be sure that a patent obtained in
France is also valid in Germany or any other Member State. At present,
Member States have differing laws and patent procedures, which can
seen as an impediment to the EU's "internal market" project.
Although the ever increasing presence of computers and computer
in manufactured products requires that provisions be established for
protection of such types of inventions, the patenting measures need to
more strictly defined and confined so as not to stifle and discourage
computer programming and software development in Europe.
If anything, this Directive should help patent authorities distinguish
between genuinely patentable inventions which use computers programmes
make machines work better and pure software which manipulate abstract
within a computer. Herein lies the importance of the definitions of the
terminology used in the proposal, specifically "computer-implemented
inventions." Unfortunately, the proposal does not adequately explain or
define such inventions. If its aim is to clarify the situation of what
and is not patentable, the proposal's lack of precision and definition
cause for concern.
Further uncertainty arises from the requirement of a "technical
contribution" in order to qualify for a patent. Although "software as
is not patentable, the directive proposal does allow for exceptions. If
programme involves a technical innovation, it could be patentable.
Unfortunately, the definition of said "technical" contribution is left
to much interpretation. In fact, are computers not, by their very
"technical?" It could be argued that any new computer program is a
innovation. While it is true that the proposal does exclude algorithms
business models from patentability, there is no clear
definition/boundary/scope for them in the proposal, leaving again a
vagueness and uncertainty to be dealt with by patent officers and
Given the nature of computers and IT, its rapid evolution, growth and
innovation, pinning down very detailed definitions could prove
they could quickly become dated. However, little or no definition will
create controversy and uncertainty, and maybe even lead to a flurry of
innovation constricting patents.
I have decided to support the amendments by my colleague Piia-Noora
MEP (Finland) in the interests of clarity. The only thing that is clear
that the text is very complicated and difficult to understand and
We must not allow such confusion to become law.
As you may know, many of my colleague's amendments were adopted at the
European Parliament's Plenary session on 24th September. This is a
complicated and delicate issue, and policy-makers and Member State
governments are highly divided over how to harmonise these patents
the same time protecting pure software and avoiding the US route. The
steps, the Council position and the Commission's comments, are likely
at odds with the Parliament's report and will doubtless mean drawn-out
negotiations and compromises. One can only hope a satisfactory
can be found.
Thank you for raising your concerns with me and alerting me to this
Giles Chichester MEP
48 Queen Street
Exeter, Devon, EX4 3SR United Kingdom
What does it mean? Who can tell?
It's extremely vague. Looks like a lot of waffling and giving unclear background on how unclear the situation is. Basically look up the stance of that Finland guy and you'll know where your man stands.
EDIT: What the crap does the title of this article mean anyway?