Monti 1997 at EPO Anniversary: Software Patents Needed
A few months after his directorate hat published the "Green Paper on Patents" and thereby officially launched preparations for the project of a EU directive on software patents, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Mario Monti, said in a speech in Munich what the purpose of this directive project was understood to be: "to protect computer software by patents, to the benefit of our software developers."
Somebody copied this speech onto our Wiki. It looks authentic, but a source still needs to be specified.
- Speech by Commissioner Mario Monti Munich, 7 October 1997 Twenty years of the European Patent Office I would like to congratulate the European Patent Office for the important work it has done in the past 20 years for the promotion of patents in Europe. The Commission attaches great importance to industrial property in general, and to patents in particular. Patents are essential for the promotion of innovation, and innovation in turn is vital for the viability and success of modern economy. It is very much our belief in the Commission that the patent system should not be looked at in isolation. It constitutes a part of an industrial policy which must be co-ordinated today at European level. With this spirit, the Commission has produced the Green Paper on Patents. This document was approved by the Commission in June. Its objective is to find ways to modernise and improve the patent system in Europe. At this stage, I am pleased to report that the Green Paper has already generated much interest in various circles: in the industry, among the private practitioners and also, among patent offices. Our intention is to listen carefully to the users of the patent system in Europe, to examine whether new Community initiatives are necessary and to consider what these new measures could be. On several points, it seems that a broad consensus is already there; I refer in particular to the opportunity to protect computer software by patents, to the benefit of our software developers. A major new initiative stemming from the Green Paper could involve the establishment of the Community Patent in the form of a Community instrument. The objective of the Green Paper on this point is clear. The Commission awaits a clear position from industry, to see whether such an instrument would be necessary in the present context. Depending on the degree of interest and motivation for such an instrument, the Commission will decide on the best way to proceed further. One has to see whether, on top of a flexible system such as the European Patent, there is a need for a unitary title of protection in today's Community. The European Patent Office will have a major role to play in this process, since it will be the operator of any such system. But the role of the national patent offices is also extremely important for the patent system in Europe. They constitute a most valuable contact point for local businesses and can provide technical information tailored to the local needs. National patent offices have a role to play as an "entry point" into the European patent system. I know that the Green Paper tackles some difficult issues, such as the translation requirements. It is my belief that it is unacceptable that the cost of patents in Europe are overburdened by the translation costs, while these translations are hardly used. The Commission considers that work should continue on the various proposals which have been tabled in this organisation, with a view to finding the most appropriate and balanced solution. In this respect, I have recently taken the initiative to write to the ministers of industry of the Member States to draw their attention to the problem of translation costs of patents and on the need to find a balanced solution to this question. Although the European Patent Office is an independent organisation from the Community institutions, there is certainly interaction, and even synergy, between the two organisations. The observer status the Commission has in the Administrative Council allows it to have a direct entry into the organisation. It allows us to make the necessary links between the work of this Organisation and the industrial policy for which the Commission has responsibility. On the legislative side, several initiatives taken by the Commission have had or are going to have some implications for the work of this office. The creation of supplementary protection certificates in the Community has led to the first revision of the European Patent Convention since its entry into force in 1977. The very important proposal for a directive on biotechnological inventions, once adopted, will have to be taken into account by the EPO to ensure coherence and identity of treatment of this kind of inventions throughout Europe. It is also obvious that the TRIPs Agreement, concluded in the context of the GATT multilateral negotiations, has had an impact on the patent law of all European countries and should also be fully implemented by this organisation. I would like to use the opportunity of this ceremony to give my wishes to the countries of this Organisation which are not Member States of the European Union and to the countries which have signed an extension agreement with the organisation. I know that several countries have applied to join the Organisation. In the Union, negotiations in view of the accession of new members will start in the near future, in fact in 1998. The Commission considers that accession to the European Patent Convention could be seen as preparatory work in a specific and technical area, which should be used as a useful experience for other areas where approximation will be required. As you can see, the agenda of the Commission in the area of patents is full. On our side, we are determined to go ahead and to make progress. I don't doubt that this Organisation is looking for the same results.