Patentability of computerised inventions

June 19, 2003

Brussels, 18 Jun 2003

The Legal Affairs Committee gave strong backing on Tuesday to proposed EU-wide rules for the patentability of computer-implemented inventions. The committee's first-reading report, drafted by Arlene McCARTHY (PES, UK), was adopted by 20 votes to 8 with 1 abstention.

The term "computer-implemented inventions" does not cover computer software programs as such, but only devices like mobile phones, intelligent household appliances, engine control devices, machine tools and computer program related inventions. While approving the general idea of patentability for computerised inventions, the committee adopted a range of amendments seeking to clarify and tighten up the wording of the Commission's proposed directive and at the same time strike a balance between MEPs' sharply differing views.

The committee says that, in order to be patentable, a computerised invention should be one that could have an industrial application. It must also involve a technologically inventive step. MEPs also argue that a computerised invention should not be regarded as making a technical contribution just because it involves the use of computer technology. In other words, patents must not be allowed for every simple computer program.

The Commission is asked to produce a report at a future date on how the new directive has been taken into account by the European Patent Office and also to assess whether the European Patent Convention might have to be revised.

Other amendments seek to protect the interests of SMEs, saying the Commission must monitor the impact on these firms of the patentability of computerised inventions.

17.06.2003 Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market       In the chair: Giuseppe GARGANI (EPP-ED, I)       Procedure: Co-decision, first reading       Plenary vote: July, Strasbourg

Press enquiries:Nikolaos Tziorkas - tel. (32-2) 28 42341e-mail: lega-press@europarl.eu.int

European Parliament News Report 0618

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