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JURI discusses Rocard's report on software patents

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Brussels, 21 April 2005 -- The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) has discussed the report of Michel Rocard MEP, the Parliament's rapporteur for the directive, about the software patent directive. Two days earlier Mr Rocard had delivered the report, which is notable for its clarity since in a few pages it explains the complex issue in an enlightening way.

Mr. Rocard's report, titled "Note on the patentability of software and of computer controlled inventions", presents the basic problem: should software be pantented? If not, how to define a clear limit which would exclude software from patentability while devices controlled or assisted by software means would still be patentable? Finally, the report proceeds to address every important detail of the directive (title, definition of technicity, compatibility with TRIPS, form of claims and interoperability), arriving to conclusions that are very similar in spirit to the Parliament's first reading.

During today's JURI meeting, the room was full of pro-software-patent lobbyists who made their preferences audible by sneering and laughing. The presence of these lobbyists, who all come from the big industry, has been very intense the last few weeks at the Parliament, whereas the voice of the !SMEs is barely heard.

Despite the heavy lobbying, few MEPs opposed Rocard's approach. Among those who particularly agreed were Piia-Noora Kauppi (PPE), Maria Berger (PSE), and Eva Lichtenberger (Greens). At the end of the meeting, Rocard said he was satisfied with the debate and that he agreed with 90% of what the others had said.

JURI will take its final decision on June 20th, followed by the Parliament's plenary vote around 6 July.

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The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) is a non-profit association registered in several European countries, which is dedicated to the spread of data processing literacy. FFII supports the development of public information goods based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 500 members, 1,200 companies and 80,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

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