Poland blocks EU Software Patent directive

By EDRi · November 17, 2004

The Polish government has announced today it can not support the proposal
from the EU Council for a Software Patents directive, since it is too
vague, and leaves too much room for patents on pure software and business
methods. This means there is no majority in the Council anymore to
formally ratify the agreement that was reached on 18 May 2004. On 1
November 2004 the voting-procedure in the EU Council was modified to allow
the new Member States to have equal amounts of votes. With the Polish
‘NO’, the Council will have to re-negotiate the draft directive once more
within the Council, before being able to present it to the European
Parliament for a second reading.

The text was already very problematic, due to growing political
differences between government representatives of member states and
members of different national parliaments. The official reason for the
long delay in the ratification of the Council position was the fact that
not all translations had been approved, but behind closed doors a lot of
lobbying has been going on.

According to spokesperson Jan Macek of FFII Poland, the Polish refusal of
the Council position will give critical member states such as Austria,
Belgium, Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark and Italy a chance to re-open the
debate on earlier modification proposals. These proposals would bring the
draft directive much more in line with the intentions of the European
Parliament, but were declined by the Irish Presidency of the EU.

On 24 September 2003, the European Parliament voted against all proposals
that would make software patentable and added additional safeguards, such
as freedom of publication and interoperation. In January 2004, the Irish
Presidency of the Council proposed a text deleting most of the amendments
introduced by the Parliament and lifting restrictions to the direct
patentability of computer programs, data structures and process
descriptions. Under this proposed compromise, ‘computer-implemented’
algorithms and business methods, protocols and data formats would be
inventions in the sense of patent law, and the publication of a functional
description of a patented idea, even for interoperability purposes, would
constitute a patent infringement.

FFII, ISOC Poland and NoSoftwarePatents.com Joint Press Release (17.11.2004)

Statement Polish government (last item on the page, 17.11.2004)