7 July 2005 The European Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected a law that would have introduced a standard method for patenting software across member states.
The Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) was rejected by the huge majority of 648 to 17, with 18 abstentions. Indications from the European Commission are that it will not be resubmitted, signalling an end to the controversial concept of patenting software.
Big business groups, such as Eicta which represents Microsoft and Nokia, expressed their displeasure at the result, saying it would reduce innovation and dissuade investors. They argued patent protection would have encouraged them to invest in research and development.
By contrast, open source advocates had tried to introduce more than 170 amendments to restrict what could be patented. They argued protection would restrict their competitiveness since they would not be as well resourced as the larger companies to defend their patents in court.
Ovum analyst Gary Barnett welcomed the CIID’s defeat but bemoaned the “unwillingness of either side of the patent/anti-patent debate to engage in serious and pragmatic discussion about the issues that the CID sought to address.”
Barnett said there is still a massive bias in favour of the larger, richer software companies who can afford “a good lawyer to obtain a patent for almost every software product.”