EC hearing all about patents today

Costs a major concern

Representatives from all sides of the debate are meeting in Brussels today to discuss the future of patent legislation in Europe.

Although the meeting's remit is much wider than determining whether or not computer software is patentable, this issue is set to dominate the debate, with many interested parties coming from the tech sector.

The cost of challenging or defending a patent is likely to be another major theme, regardless of industry sector, largely because one of the main proposals to be discussed, the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), is expected to make this between two and three times more expensive.

The Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure argues that this would impose a disproportionate extra burden on small businesses. It is also expected to attack the European Patent Office for its lack of political accountability, a concern that has been raised by MEPs and recognised by the commission.

"If [its lack of accountability] is a problem, why give it more power?" the FFII asks.

Anti-patent campaigner Florian Mueller says the EPLA is "just another attempt to give software and business method patents a stronger legal basis in Europe than they have now", and warns that the consequences for software patents could be even more serious than the rejected directive on Computer Implemented Inventions.

Around 40 people, individuals and representatives from different organisations, are expected to speak at today's meeting. We'll bring you more news as soon as we have it. ®

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