EU ministers have rejected most of the Parliament’s amendments to
the software patents directive. The new Parliament will examine the
text in second reading after the June elections.
The compromise deal tabled by the Irish Presidency on software
patents was approved by the Competitiveness Council on 18 May. Of
the 120 amendments tabled by Parliament, only 21 were kept by EU
ministers. The Austrian, Italian and Belgian delegations abstained
while Spain voted against the proposal.
The text decides on the issue of defining what is the “technical
contribution” required to patent computer-implemented inventions:
“Technical contribution means a contribution to the state of the
art in a field of technology which is new and not obvious to a
person skilled in the art,” the agreed text reads. The difference
between the state of the art and the contribution brought about by
the invention is to be assessed against “the scope of the patent
claim considered as a whole, which must comprise technical
According to the previous version of the text as voted last year
by Parliament, a technical contribution has to offer an “inventive
step” defined as something “new, non-obvious, and susceptible of
industrial application”. It also pushed for exceptions to
patentability to allow more interoperability between different
software. All these were rejected by the Council.