Feeds

Incoming EPO president reopens software patent debate

All change, please

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. ®

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.