Do software patents exist in the EU?

Do software patents exist in the EU?


Frequently Asked Question: Do software patents exist in the EU?

Answer: The problem is that software patents exist in some ways in the EU. The power of patent governance is split between a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary.

The legislature (the European Patent Convention) says that software ideas are not patentable.

The executive (the European Patent Office) ignores this and approves software patent applications.

The judiciary (the national courts) usually declares the EPO's software patents to be invalid whenever there is a court case.

So, for the most part, Europeans are safe from software patents. There are very few court cases because the patent holders are afraid their patents will be invalidated.

In 2005, after years of work, we blocked an attempt to change the legislation. That change would have made software patents valid.

Today, there are attempts being made, such as the EPLA, to remove the national courts from patent governance. The people behind the EPLA want to replace the national courts with a centralised EU court whose judges will be selected and continually reviewed by the EPO.

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Biography

Free Software advocate, active on political campaigns such as that against software patents in Europea, and interested in free software licences