More delay for IPR Enforcement and SoftPat Directives
The final vote on two of the most controversial information society
Directives, the Directive on Software Patents and the Directive on the
Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights has been delayed once more.
The IPRE directive was withdrawn last minute from the 9 February plenary
agenda of the European Parliament. On 6 February the Council presented a
The IPRE directive was designed to prevent piracy and counterfeiting in
the EU, but the scope and criminal sanctions were extended to infringement
of any IP right, for example to peer-to-peer file exchangers. The new
scope was strongly criticised by consumer organisations, telecoms
operators and internet service providers. They claimed it would force them
into endless legal proceedings with representatives from the music and
film industry. They demanded more consumer safeguards to ensure that a
court case has actually been filed and a judge has weighed evidence before
personal information should be disclosed about an alleged infringer.
In order to buy the Irish Presidency more time to secure a majority,
Parliament decided to withdraw the intellectual property directive from
its 9 February plenary agenda. The pressure is high to agree in so-called
First Reading by the European Parliament, before new Member States join
the European Union in June.
The Council now proposes to limit the scope of the Directive, leaving it
up to the Member States to decide about possible criminal sanctions and
deleting Article 21 and its ban on technical devices. The Commission (and
Parliament rapporteur Mme Fourtou) originally proposed broad DMCA-like
“anti-circumvention” measures to apply to devices protecting any type of
intellectual property right.
The Competitiveness Council of Ministers was supposed to have voted on the
Software Patent Directive on 27 November, but due to continuing
controversy over the text and heated disagreements between the Parliament
and the Commission, some Member States (most notably France, which wants
to conduct further consultations with stakeholders) called for the Council
vote to be postponed. The Council Common Position is now expected on 17
May 2004. The vote in plenary already took place on 24 September 2003.
Parliament adopted a large number of amendments that limited the
possibility of patenting computer-implemented inventions (See EDRI-gram nr
EU Council Proposal on IPRE Directive (06.02.2004)
IP Justice comparison of the different proposals (05.02.2004)
Consolidated version of the SoftPat vote (24.09.2003)