Feeds

Incoming EPO president reopens software patent debate

All change, please

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

New head of the European Patent Office (EPO), Alison Brimelow, has signalled her intentions early, calling a public meeting to discuss the policy vacuum left by the rejection of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions.

Purists will argue that there is no such vacuum, of course, because a treaty drawn up in the '70s says there should be no patents granted on computer programs "as such". But it is true that today, computer technology is a far more important part of our lives, economically and otherwise, than it was when the European patent convention was drawn up in 1972. And it is much more diverse in nature.

Does the 1972 convention deal adequately with how best to offer protection to inventors working in this highly technical field? It is an important question, and not really one that as been properly answered.

Legislation is a living thing, and needs constant revision if it is to accurately reflect the needs of the societies it serves. Even though the European Parliament rejected the CII directive, that doesn't mean the status quo is OK. It just means that the CII directive was not the right update.

Brimelow says: "The task now is to make sure that the patents that we grant are relevant. What we need is not more patents, but more good patents. This will enable the EPO to remain a confident and competent organisation which can continue to set the global benchmark in patenting."

(You can read more about her plans here.)

So, this Thursday there will be a meeting in Brussels to try to unpick the knotty problems of patenting software. The EPO argues that the system is overwhelmed, overly bureaucratic, and hopelessly lost in lawyer land.

Since the rejection of the CII directive, the EPO notes that the number of patent applications in the fields most affected by it has not fallen. Neither has the number of appeals lodged with the technical board of appeals or national courts. And oddly enough, the number of grant procedures has also grown.

The goal of the meeting is to work out how to tackle these problems, or at the very least, to have an informed debate about the reality of the situation.

Interested parties are asked to register here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK gov rushes through emergency law on data retention
Cameron: 'The consequences of not acting are grave'
German government orders local CIA station chief to pack his bags
Sour Krauts arrest second local in domestic spy ring probe
'The writing is TOO SMALL': MPs row over Parliamentary move to Office 365
It's all jolly fiddly. And why aren't there more WOMEN in tech support? Eh?
Report: UK.gov wants to legislate on comms data BEFORE next election
Ministerial alarm sets in over EU court's data retention ruling
Russian law will force citizens' personal data to be stored locally
Won't someone think of the software-as-a-service startups?
Russian MP fears US Secret Service cuffed his son for Snowden swap
Seleznev Jnr is 'prolific trafficker in stolen credit card data', it is alleged
Amazon begs Feds for drone test permission slip
Application for test flights reveals more details of Prime Air 'copters
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem
Download this brochure to find five ways HP BladeSystem can optimize your business with the power of one.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.