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[FYI] New Software Patent Law for Europe Looking Limited


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October 6, 2001  

New Software Patent Law for Europe Looking Limited  


RUSSELS, Oct. 5  The European Union appears to be moving toward 
unified regulations for software patents that would be less 
encompassing than regulations in the United States and Japan.  

Competition officials at the European Commission, the executive arm 
of the 15-nation union, met Wednesday with their colleagues in charge 
of drafting a new law for the union, to press their case for limiting 
its scope. Their concern is that overly protective patent regulation 
could hinder competition by helping large software manufacturers 
maintain their dominant positions.  

A person involved in the discussions said the concerns of the 
competition officials had been met. "We haven't agreed on a final 
position, but I don't anticipate any further difficulties in getting 
the draft directive approved within the commission," he said.  

The approach being adopted by the commission would allow patents only 
for software of a technical nature, and it would not permit patents 
on business methods. The United States and Japan allow patents on a 
much wider range of software applications, and they both permit 
patents for business methods.  


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