MEPs, SME groups and anti-patent campaigners have reacted angrily to the ministerial agreement on software patents, promising a bumpy ride in Parliament at second reading.
EU ministers agreed on 7 March on a common position on the controversial software patents directive, amid warnings that the bill was likely to face rejection by MEPs.
The Spanish delegation voted against while the Austrian, Belgian and Italian delegations abstained.
The agreed text seemingly tries to take the Parliament’s views on board by stating that patents on computer-implemented inventions can be delivered only to inventions which “belong to the field of technology”.
“In order to be patentable, a computer-implemented invention must be new, susceptible to industrial application and must involve an inventive step,” the agreement states. This, it adds, actually means such inventions “must make a technical contribution to the state of the art” of the technology.
According to the text, computer programmes as such – whether expressed as a source code or which implement business or mathematical methods and do not produce any technical effects – will not be patentable.
Furthermore, the agreement says particular attention is to be given to cases where “a dominant player refuses to allow the use of a patented technique which is needed […] to allow communication and exchanges of data” between two different computer systems.