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<title>Software Patents in Europe</title>
<center><h1>Software Patents in Europe</h1>
[<a href="/activities/swpat/swpat.html">Introduction</a> | <a
href="/activities/swpat/background.html">Background</a> | Status | <a
href="/activities/swpat/documents.html">Further Reading</a>]
<h2>Current Status</h2>
<p>The European Commission's original proposal for the directive was
heavily criticised for allowing unlimited patenting of software,
calcuation rules and business processes, while making the claim of not
doing so.</p>
<p class="indent"><b>September 24, 2003:</b> The European Parliament, the
only body in the European Union that is elected directly by its
citizens, had to decide on the commission's proposal. Giving the needs
of European citizens and industry preference, the Parliament passed the
directive after limiting the scope of patentability to exclude pure,
abstract software without a technical context.<br />
This decision was regarded a victory for democracy and a
step towards a more transparent and participatory European Union by
<p class="indent"><b>May 18, 2004:</b> The council of the European Union,
a body representing the Ministers of its member states, rejected the
parliament's version. Instead it agreed upon a new proposal of the
commission that was in effect identical to the original proposal, in
some respects even worse. Formal adoption of that proposal was
delayed, however.</p>
<p class="indent"><b>December 21, 2004:</b> The directive was put on the
agenda of the EU Council on Agriculture and Fishery to be approved as
a so-called "A-item" without further discussion.<br />
Paying an unexpected visit, Poland's Vice Minister of
Science, Wodzimierz Marcinski, vetoed this item at the beginning of
the meeting, so it was taken off the agenda. Poland received much
well-deserved applause for this act in defense of democracy and
prevented serious harm to European economy.</p>
<p class="indent"><b>March 7th, 2005:</b> Was a black day for
European democracy, citizens and economy. With remarkable
disregard for democracy, the EU Presidency forced the
software patent directive on the agenda as an A-item. This
was done against the explicit will of several countries
present at the meeting and ignoring the European Parliament
as well as several national parliaments. The officially
stated reason were "formal procedural rules."</p>
<p class="indent"><b>July 6th, 2005:</b> With an overwhelming majority of
648 of 680 votes, the European Parliament rejected the entire
software patent directive: sending a strong message against
software patents in Europe and a sign of protest against
corruption of democratic processes. Now it will be important
to establish democratic control of the European Patent Office (EPO) --
more information also available in the <a
press release</a>.</p>
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