EICTA: "CII" is a confusing term, why change it?
In a recent letter to Michel Rocard, EICTA's lobbyist Mark Mac//Gann agrees once more that the term "computer-implemented invention" could make people think of conventional general-purpose computers only and that this should be avoided. Previously he told journalists that, apparently for this reason, the name of the directive is a disaster. Yet, in the recent letter, he opposes Rocard's attempt to change the name, saying that there is nothing wrong with the term.
Previous EICTA criticism of the term "CII"
In an Infoworld article of 2004-11-07 by Laura Rohde of IDG News Service, titled "Polish rejection may derail EU patent directive", MacGann is quoted as follows:
- "Yes, there are flaws with the directive. For example, its very name, 'Patentability of Computer-implemented Inventions,' is a disaster, but it would be a great shame if the directive went back to the Commission or into another working group because it would continue the current uncertainty over patenting computer-implemented inventions
possibly for years," [EICTA-Lobbyist] MacGann said.
It is clear here that MacGann is referring to misunderstandings caused by the word "computer-implemented invention", which was indeed at the center of objections raised from the Polish side.
2005-04-21 Letter from Mark MacGann (EICTA) to JURI-rapporteur MEP Michel Rocard
The directive's rapporteur Michel Rocard reacted to the communication failures caused by the term "CII" by proposing alternatives which avoid the identified problems. However EICTA comments unfavourably on this initiative:
- Changing the term "Computer-implemented inventions" to
- "computer-controlled inventions" or "computer-assisted inventions" We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking only of conventional general purpose computers. The scope of the directive concerns any invention realised wholly or partly by means of a computer program (Article 2a). Whatever term is used must be capable of conveying that meaning. For example this may be encapsulated more accurately by the expression "invention technique dont la réalisation puisse utiliser un dispositif programmable" On the other hand if there is nothing wrong with the current term "computer-implemented inventions", why change it?
In the same letter, EICTA/!MacGann moreover uses the alternative term "software-enabled inventions".
Hartmut Pilch comments: The only sense I can make of this contradiction is that EICTA indeed finds "nothing wrong" with the confusion that the term "CII" causes. They want a nebulous term that they can present as referring to more than software solutions running on conventional general purpose computers, while in reality it refers to nothing more than that. Only when their deceptive tactic fails, such as was the case in Poland , they speak of a communication disaster.
 2005-04-30 Hartmut Pilch wrote (informal reply to a mailing list):
- The Polish government has evidently been misled by the translation. They in fact translate it as "realised with help of computer", i.e. similar to "computer-aided", and Marcinski hammered on this in the Council, saying
the text should do what it says. Patent Attorney and pro-Patent Blogger Axel Horns commented with consternation, saying that there is no contradiction, since "computer-implemented" always refers to software-only solutions, how can Marcinski not know that?"