Monday, July 18, 2005

The Software Patent debate goes on

It has been more than a week since the Commission text of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions was defeated 648 to 14 votes, proving that the Commission's dodgy strategies have failed. This is already old news in the Blogoshpere, but as I missed the entire round of posts the first time around, but I thought that I would have a second look at what has happened now that the dust is settling and as there has been some time to reflect on what is taking place.

The scrapping of the Commission text is good news, as it was the closest proposal to the American system that we have had so far. It also proves that their tactics to try to circumvent the democratic institutions of the European Union by passing an unpopular directive by stealth have seriously backfired on them. What is bad news is that we now find that the patenting system in Europe is going to have to follow the flawed and often contradictory practices of the last few years. We will have to live with the many broad and obvious patents being awarded in Europe, and this is not a good thing. We do need a directive, but we will not get one in the near future.

I have spoken with a couple of people who are in favour of software patents, and they seem to be happy with the result. This bothers me.


David BB said...

You shoudln't be too bothered. Companies like stability and no change means they stick to what they know. They will only vote for change if they think they will benefit from it.

Btw, have you seen the film, The Corporation ( ) as it is a good overview of the pathology of corporations.

We should now be trying to get the requisite directive to support free culture and avoid lock down - but I fear that the companies are lobbying harder now - and not so publicly....

Montexvma said...


No he seguido muy de cerca el debate sobre las patentes de software en el seno de la UE. Pregunta, cual es el plazo de protección promedio de las patentes en la UE?? Si mal no recuerdo creo que alrededor de 20 años no?? No sería entonces mejor 20 años que la vida del autor mas 70 como ocurre con la protección que otorga el regimen actual de derechos de autor al software??

Andres Guadamuz said...


Yes, I've seen the Corporation, flipping brilliant film!

Andres Guadamuz said...

Hola Oscar,

En principio si, las patentes duran 20 años, pero son mucho mas poderosas que los derechos de autor, y puede que no protejan los mismos derechos. Por ejemplo, el copyright solo protege el código fuente y el código objeto, o sea, la parte literal del programa. Una patente en cambio protege la idea detrás del software. Por ejemplo, yo podría patentar la idea de un programa que traduce del Chino a Español, por lo que quien quiera hacer un traductor similar me tiene que pagar una licencia.