EU Software Patent Directive Proposal 2

According to an article in Computer Weekly (2005, 25 January, p.10) the proposed EU Software Patent Directive states that software that does no more than operate in a computer cannot be patented. It has to have a technical application to be patented. Therefore software that controls an aircraft would be patentable, but that used in a business process to book a flight on it would not be.

From an Open Source perspective this potentially means that a patent search would be required each time software for a technical application is created to ensure no legal infringement takes place. This might be seen as placing a straitjacket on creativity by some or a much needed control on plagiarism
by others.

What do other OSSG members think or know about this proposed EU Directive?

Mark Elkins

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2 thoughts on “EU Software Patent Directive Proposal

  • adrianw
    EU Software Patent Directive Proposal

    Interesting article by John Naughton in this week’s Observer outlining the dangers (as he sees them) of this directive.
    See John Naughton on proposed EE Software Patent directive or try suggested text of letter to your MEP

  • jingl3
    EU Software Patent Directive Proposal

    The EU Parliament sought to rememdy the “technical contribution” clause by adding amendments to the directive to define software as a field of technology that should not be patentable. However, the present text of the directive ignores these amendments.

    The UK government firmly supports the present text. Lord Sainsbury, the minister responsible, was confronted last December by a roomful of developers who strongly contested his assertion that the directive imposes limits on software patenting. The minister agreed to set up a series of workshops to attempt to clarify the “technical contribution” element. The workshops have now taken place, and the UKPO report is at, with participants’ reports at

    I personally feel that the present text of the directive is unlikely to be amended a second time without a massive lobbying of MEPs by free software developers (see If the directive becomes law without further amendments (some time around mid-2005) it will allow almost any software to be patentable, without the patent holder even having to actually write code!

    John Ingleby