Sunday

15th Jul 2018

MEPs bin software patents bill

MEPs have sent a final blow to the controversial directive on software patents, by supporting an overall rejection of the bill by 648 votes, with only 14 MEPs voting against and 18 abstentions.

The decision made on Wednesday (6 July) follows the previous call for the directive's withdrawal by the parliamentarians in its first reading.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

It is the first time the Parliament has rejected a piece of legilsation by absolute majority in the second reading.

The law aimed to harmonise patenting practices in computer-driven inventions across the EU member states

The main point of dispute among its supporters and opponents was to which extent should software be protected by patents, rather than just copyright systems that are currently in practice.

Institutional quarelling

Speaking to journalists after the vote, the European Parliament president Josep Borrell suggested that he would talk to the Commission chief to make it clear that the plenary's voice should be taken into consideration more seriously by the EU executive and member states.

He argued the commission had completely ignored the Parliament's suggestions for amendments and kept its proposal without major changes.

Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told MEPs on Tuesday (5 July) that the commission was not intending to issue a new proposal should the parliament bin the proposal.

"It was totally inappropriate how some commissioners reacted to our proposals", said Mr Borrell, pointing out "they are paid extremely well to put forward solutions and be prepared to introduce new ones even after some of them are rejected".

The Socialist rapporteur on the directive, Michel Rocard, added the parliament was faced with "scorn" and "ignorance" from the commission and member states, who consequently deserved such a strong signal of disapproval from the EU assembly.

However, the center-right leader, Hans-Gert Poettering suggested after the vote that Brussels should prepare a new legislation, and commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner indicated the EU executive would consider such a move, if directly requested by the parliament.

Response by stakeholders

Reactions from the industries involved in the debate have varied.

Some of the large high-tech companies - originally supporting the draft - claim that remaining with the status quo is better than the adoption of Mr Rocard's amendments to the bill.

The small and medium sized firms also agree saying that the current state is better than the software patent law that has been dropped from the table.

"Rejecting the directive is a better outcome for small businesses than agreeing to a text that would allow the patenting of software, which the proposal as it stood would have done", stated Hans-Werner Müller, UEAPME Secretary General.

The consumer's lobby, the BEUC, has expressed regret that the three-year long legislation marathon had been held for nothing, suggesting it is a pity it had not used its powers to push forward an idea that sofwares should not be patented.

"Consumers have a lot to gain from innovation and competition in the software market. Software operates features of consumer goods like cars, stereos, and home appliances and this trend will intensify in the years to come", noted BEUC Director Jim Murray.

Focus

MEPs set for scrap on EU patents

Just over a year after a controversial proposal to harmonise EU patent laws was shelved indefinitely, the European Commission will present a new patents plan on Thursday. But the European Parliament has already taken out its arms and is ready to fight the plan.

Opinion

Parliament should pass resolution on software patents

If Europe does not send a signal to the rest of the world, then the US government might just have its way, writes IP campaigner Florian Müller calling on MEPs to express their majority will on software patentability.

Focus

MEPs demand changes to EU patent plans

MEPs have demanded several changes to a European Commission proposal to sign the bloc up to an agreement on a legal framework for patents in Europe.

MEPs side with Fry over McCartney on copyright

The European Parliament decided to take more time studying proposed changes to the EU's copyright regime, amidst fears of 'upload filters' - and accusations of scaremongering.

News in Brief

  1. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  2. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  3. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  4. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato
  5. EU free wifi plan struck by IT error
  6. Europol launches 'World Cup game' to catch criminals
  7. Germany's Gabriel urges tougher dealing with Trump
  8. Eurozone to give Greece last bailout loan in August

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us