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The Register: Software patents stay banned in Europe - for now

Nov 22, 2000, 18:10 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Graham Lea)

"The campaign to stop the European Patent Office trying to legalise software patents has scored its first major victory. After some effective lobbying in several countries and despite Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein deciding not to vote, all the other countries voted to keep Article 52C (which bans software patents) in the European Patent Convention. This now clears the way for the consultation called by the European Commission, which has a deadline of 15 December, and the UK Patent Office's own consultation."

"The tide was turned by a groundswell largely co-ordinated through EuroLinux, although it would be wrong to assume that the issue is just of concern to open source proponents, as there are major implications for the ethical part of the software industry. Oracle opposes the patentability of software and believes that existing copyright law and trade secret protection is adequate, while Adobe, Autodesk, Borland, Novell, Synopsis and Wind River Systems have also developed their businesses without resorting to building a portfolio of software patents. Content-king Bertelsmann regards them as "inhibiting innovation". Much of the initiative against software patents has come from France, with strong support from Germany. Monaco was evidently called to heel by France, and the Nordic Linux groups played a heroic role in gaining their governments' support. Little Liechtenstein realised that despite inducement, it could not win."

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