Concluding several months of heated debate, the Parliament approved on 24 September a pan-European law governing the application of patents to software programmes.
Currently, patents may be granted by the European Patent Office (EPO), but are not enforceable in Member States because they cover software or business processes which existing law blocks from being patented. Proponents argued that the Directive would clarify what could and could not be patented, offering clarity for businesses.
The disputes that have surrounded the Commission’s draft centred on the proposed pan-European regulation’s ability to encourage innovation and research and development.
Although the new legislation outlaws the American practice of patenting business methods and computer programmes, critics still fear the EU may drift toward the US approach.