Legal Updates

Intellectual Property: Software Patents

The draft directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions ("software patents directive") was rejected by a huge majority in the European parliament. The parliament had the choice of accepting, amending or rejecting the draft software patents directive, and as they opted for the latter, it seems unlikely that there will be another proposal in the short term.

The rejection of the proposal ends a three-year struggle to harmonise rules for patenting computer-implemented inventions in the European Union. The controversial draft software patents directive has been the centre of a debate over whether inventions that rely on software, e.g. the software behind household appliances, should be patentable at all.

The directive was mostly advocated by larger IT firms who argued that patents would encourage research spending and stimulate innovation. The counterarguments were mainly that copyright already protects inventions and patents would only raise legal costs.

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© RT COOPERS, 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

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