Europa.eu.int: Study: "The Economic Impact of Patentability of Computer Programs"Nov 06, 2000, 20:50 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert Hart, Peter Holmes, John Reid)
[ Thanks to Dwight Johnson for this link. ]
"The real difference between the USA and Europe is that in Europe the invention has to be of a technical character whilst in the USA the mere fact that the invention uses a computer/software makes it of the technological arts, if also useful, concrete and tangible results are provided. The position in Japan is very similar to the position in Europe: the invention has to be an advanced creation of technical ideas by which a law of nature is utilised. (Of course in Europe, the USA and Japan whatever is being patented has also to be new and inventive.)"
"In all three jurisdictions business methods are patentable subject to the requirements indicated above. That the US does not require the invention to be of a technical character means that the restrictions on patenting of business methods are negligible; for almost all business methods, limiting patents on them to when use of a computer/software is involved, does not reduce the value of the patents. (Indeed it may be possible to patent business methods in the States without such a limitation.) But it is also important to realise that many computer-implemented business method inventions are of a sufficiently technical character to be patentable in Europe and in Japan."
"Independent software developers and related SMEs play a major and rapidly increasing role in innovation. This is because innovation in commerce and industry has become so dependent on improvements in computer related processes and products. This is clear to any reader of any newspaper and is also supported by the literature and from our consultations. The role of the developers of open-source software is a specific and significant example of the importance of such computer program related innovation."