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CEC & BSA 2002-02-20: proposal to make all useful ideas patentable

The European Commission (CEC) proposes to legalise the granting of patents on computer programs as such in Europe and ensure that there is no longer any legal foundation for refusing american-style software and business method patents in Europe. "But wait a minute, the CEC doesn't say that in its press release!" you may think. Quite right! To find out what they are really saying, you need to read the proposal itself. But be careful, it is written in an esoteric Newspeak from the European Patent Office (EPO), in which normal words often mean quite the opposite of what you would expect. Also you may get stuck in a long and confusing advocacy preface, which mixes EPO slang with belief statements about the importance of patents and proprietary software, implicitely suggesting some kind of connection between the two. This text disregards the opinions of virtually all respected software developpers and economists, citing as its only source of information about the software reality two unpublished studies from BSA & friends (alliance for copyright enforcement dominated by Microsoft and other large US companies) about the importance of proprietary software. These studies do not even deal with patents! The advocacy text and the proposal itself were apparently drafted on behalf of the CEC by an employee of BSA. Below we cite the complete proposal, adding proofs for BSA's role as well as an analysis of the content, based on a tabular comparison of the BSA and CEC versions with a debugged version based on the European Patent Convention (EPC) and related doctrines as found in the EPO examination guidelines of 1978 and the caselaw of the time. This EPC version help you to appreciate the clarity and wisdom of the patentability rules in the currently valid law, which the CEC's patent lawyer friends have worked hard to deform during the last few years.
  1. Introduction
  2. Essence of the Proposal
  3. Tabular text edition in BSA, CEC versions with counter-proposal in the spirit of the EPC
  4. Questions, Things To Do, How you can Help
  5. Annotated Links
Here we are presenting a critical edition of the text, with annotation and a tabular comparison between the CEC/BSA initial and final draft and an added FFII version, which shows what is wrong with the CEC/BSA version and how it could be rewritten in a coherent and adequate way. We highlighted some differences by bold typeface.

[ Papers on Software Patents | Europarl 2003-08-24: Geänderte Softwarepatent-Richtlinie | CEC & BSA 2002-02-20: proposal to make all useful ideas patentable | European Consultation on the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Rules of Organisation and Calculation (= Programs for Computers) | NRC 2000: The Digital Dilemma | Berichte der Münchener Diplomatischen Konferenz von 1973 | EPO 2000/05/19: Examination of %(q:business method) applications | Hans-Jürgen Papier on the EU Constitution ]
© 2005/01/06 (2002/02/20) Workgroup
english version 2004/08/16 by Hartmut PILCH