Poland made software patent directive stop

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Monday, December 20, 2004

The directive about patentability of computer implemented inventions (the so-called software patent directive) has appeared in the agenda of today's meeting of the Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU as an "A-item" (an item which does not need further discussion).

Everyone following the events expects the directive will pass, despite the vehement opposition of the European Open Source organization and small-to-medium software companies.

Against all expectations, Poland has asked for postponement of the final decision, saying they need a clear text which excludes patentability of software. The Polish Minister of Science and Information Technology, Wlodzimierz Marcinski, travelled to Brussels to tell the Council.

The decision has been welcomed by the opponents of software patents, and condemned by the pro-software-patent lobbies.

With a slim majority, the council voted for the "Common Position" on the May 18th directive.

Since then, most of the countries have received considerable pressure from their citizens and parliaments to reverse the vote. One of the most cited examples is the decision of the Dutch parliament, which urged the Dutch representative (also president of the Council for the second half of 2004) to withdraw their vote. Similar decisions have also been made in Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Poland. However, the result was only some unilateral statements attached to the directive by their respective governments.

It is believed that this decision is a great relief for those governments, as they can now seek a more widely accepted compromise.

Germany has already reacted positively to the event. Germany's federal minister of justice, Brigitte Zypries, said:

"The German government had already achieved a lot with the political agreement in May. Nonetheless, we were well aware that the respective compromise also has room for improvement with an eye to the objective of arriving at a consensus position between the EU Council and the European Parliament. We will continue to work constructively toward finding a solution that even better meets the needs of those concerned than the decision taken in May of this year. In that process, we will also introduce the position meanwhile formulated by the German parliament (Bundestag) into the discussion in the Council."

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