Software Patents

I wrote to my six MEPs yesterday - the MEPs for the East Midlands, reguarding software patents, stating my position as being against and querying what they thought, I’ve received two replies already, I’m impressed by their speed of reply, if nothing else.

The first reply got back to me, in under twelve hours, this is from Roger Helmer of the Conservative party.

Dear Mr Marshall Thank you for your recent email on the European Parliament's review of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions. The objective of this Directive is to clarify existing EU Patent Law and provide patent inspectors with a common framework within which to examine and if appropriate, grant patents for genuine innovations involving digital technology. An explicit objective of the proposal is to ensure that computer software or business methods that do not involve new innovative concepts, but make a technical contribution are excluded from patents. This will give the EU a distinctive position from the US and Japan. It is vital to ensure that the Directive does not have any adverse effect on open source software development. Parliament is now considering a range of amendments that seek to improve the effectiveness of the Directive in excluding pure software and business methods from patentability. At the same time, genuine inventions incorporating digital technology must have patent protection available. We are especially concerned to protect innovative companies, particularly small firms, using digital technology to produce original technical solutions. We have been contacted by many businessmen, concerned that they may be excluded from the patent regime by inappropriate amendments to the EU proposal. Patent royalty income is very important to these companies and is a major incentive to innovative research. It is also important to consider the impact of the Directive on the competitiveness of the European Union in global markets. If Europe's capacity to protect innovation in the field of technology is reduced, compared to other regions of the world, we may in the long run no longer be able to sustain our standard of living by innovation. A large number of tabled amendments are now being considered by the rapporteur (lead spokesman) for the proposal, who is likely to propose a `slimmed down´ set of compromise proposals for our consideration. These will cover the definition of "technical contribution" and also safeguards on "interoperability." In the end, the Parliament must balance all the arguments and reach a sensible solution that is right for everyone involved in the European economy. I hope that this information is of use, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your comments. Yours sincerely, ROGER HELMER MEP

Yes, they got my name wrong, I got a swift apology and they explained that it was due to the fact that this is a very popular topic at the moment. Good!

In priniciple I agree with him, but it all depends on the definition of technical contribution, interoperability and how they protect open source software.

My other reply was from William Newton Dunn of the Liberal Democrats, his reply was short and sweet:

Dear Mr Sas I am shall vote in favour of software being patentable in the European Union. Best wishes Bill Newton Dunn

This is the opposite to my position :/, and his sentence didn’t make sense.

You can find more information on software patents at the FFII