Software Patent Law


What's The Situation Today?

Today software patents are an established fact in the US, where they have proven themselves to have serious negative consequences.

In Europe the situation is more complex. On the one hand, software patents have no legal basis. The law explicitly states that computer programs should not be patentable. But despite this, the European Patent Office has granted 30,000 software patents anyway.

How can they do that? Read more about the software patents game, and about the patent lawyers' somewhat comical arguments.

But no matter how amusing these petty-fogging exercises may be, there is a serious reality behind it.

Computer programs are protected by copyright as literal works, according to several international conventions. The most important of these are the Berne Convention, WIPO Copyright Treaty, and TRIPs.

Among other things, these conventions give the creator of a literary work the right to freely make use of it as he pleases, for example by publishing it. But if software patents become legal in Europe, a person who writes a computer program no longer has the right to publish it freely, if it turns out that the program infringes on somebody's software patent.

Authors of computer programs can become criminals just for publishing something that they wrote. There are not only serious negative economic consequences associated with software patents. It is also a question of freedom of speech for programmers. If it's okay to ignore the international conventions that guarantee the basic rights for computer programmers, which group of professionals will be next? And who will be there to protest about it?


Don't violate TRIPs! "No" to software patents!


The Software Patents Game

How can the European Patent Office grant software patents, although this is explicitly prohibited in the law? Why do the people who want to introduce software patents claim that they are trying to restrict patentability for computer programs? Read about how the patent lobby and the civil servants in the patent bureaucracy tried to fool the parlamentarians --- and may still get away with it!

Why Can't I Patent My Movie?

The European Patent Convention prohibits patents on computer programs, but the European Patent Office grants them anyway. Read about world class argumentation acrobatics, and when "as such" means "as such" and when it doesn't., May 2004
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