Patentability of computer-implemented inventions (Extract from Background, Competitiveness Council)

November 11, 2002

Copenhagen, 08 Nov 2002

The Council will attempt to define a common approach, pending the European Parliament's opinion in first reading, on the draft directive aimed at harmonising member states' patent law as regards computer-implemented inventions. The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) will prepare on 8 November the Council's deliberation on this item.

The proposal is aimed at ending the legal uncertainty and obstacles to trade in the internal market resulting from differing practices whereby inventions can be patented by the European Patent Office or by national patent offices but the detailed provisions vary from one member state to another.

The Council will be called on to resolve the following outstanding issues:

- Conditions regarding claims relating to a computer program on a carrier. The Commission maintains a reservation on the inclusion of a provision not contained in its proposal and on an alternative wording already put forward at Coreper.

- Limitations on the right to patent computer-implemented inventions. One delegation proposes a less restrictive limitation within a provision specifying that a computer-implemented invention may not be patented merely because it involves the use of a computer or other apparatus. The overwhelming majority of delegations and the Commission are opposed to such a wording.

- Expression of a computer program in source code or object code. The Commission has suggested new interpretative wording so as to clarify that the expression of a computer program in source code or object code cannot constitute a patentable invention as such.

The proposal is based on article 95 of the Treaty (qualified majority voting procedure in the Council; co-decision with the Parliament). The Parliament has not yet given its opinion in first reading.

Danish Presidency Website http://www.eu2002.dk/main/

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