Parliament rejects the software patent directive

The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI) has voted
overwhelmingly for a complete restart to the negotiations on
the EU’s controversial IT software patents directive.

The members of the Parliament’s legal affairs committee (JURI)
voted, on 2 February 2005, to request the Commission
to restart the legislative process on software patents
from the scratch. The motion was approved with 19 in favor, two
opposed and one abstention. 

“I appreciate that the directive on the patentability of
computer-implemented inventions is a very delicate issue and I
would not like to underestimate the hard work which will be needed
to ensure an agreement between Council and Parliament,”
said Charlie McCreevy, commissioner for internal
market and services, during the exchange of views between him and
the JURI before the motion was voted. 

The Commission can now either comply with the Parliament’s
request, resubmit its initial proposal or submit a revised
version of the proposal. It could ignore the JURI’s vote
and push the current text through, but this is unlikely. The
Commission could also totally withdraw the proposal and pursue
its reforms through other means (e.g. renegotiating the European
Patent Convention). 

In the absence of new legislation, patent decisions continue to
be made by national patent offices. 

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