SePhob050701En

Swedish patent officials lobby against cross-partisan amendments

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1st July 2005 by erjos -- Voting recomendations from patent officials of the Swedish Ministry of Justice show either lack of basic knowledge in patent law or unwillingness to understand core amendments from the cross party compromise tabled by groups from all over the political spectrum.

The saying "never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence" is a good rule of thumb, but leaked documents from a meeting yesterday at the Swedish Permanent Representation in Brussels where Swedish !MEPs and assistants were invited to discuss the European Parliament's amendments to the Council's Software Patents Directive show either a lack of basic understanding of patent law, or an attempt to push a pro-software patent agenda with convoluted and unclear arguments.

The Swedish !MEPs have been lobbied by the Swedish patent officials even more intensly than by Ericsson and the big industry associations. MEP Anders Wijkman highlighted the government lobbying on the EPP-hosted conference "Claiming Economic Majorities: the Software Patent Case" on 29 June. The Swedish government has repeatly made it very clear they support the Council's text.

The 21 cross-partisan amendments are mostly unacceptable to the Swedish patent officials. The reasons given are unclear and contradictory, and shows signs of wilful misinterpretation of the amendments' intentions.

When the EP defines "technology" as "applied natural science", the Swedish patent officials argue "to make it more exact it would be better to talk about 'applied natural science and engineering science'". In other words they want to replace "technology" by the broader term "engineering", which includes financial engineering, social engineering, business methods and in fact almost anything except perhaps for applied astrology, which, according to this well-known approach, might not qualify as an "applied exact science".

All amendments that keep the requirements for patentability separate (to amend the convoluted EPO doctrines), are accused of "putting the conditions into one another".

Any amendment that implies that data processing solutions (i.e. computer programs) must be excluded from patentability is rejected by the Swedish patent officials. Everywhere an amendment would imply this, the Swedish officials insist on inserting "as such".

Clarifying amendments are accused of "hair splitting" while amendments that makes clear a computer program is data processing solution are treated like untouchable aliens. Even if the European parliament's definition of a "computer" is as close as you can get to the standard industry definition, it is not understood at all by the Swedish officials. Overall, any implication that a computer program is a solution to a problem is met with haptophobia (fear of touching).

Finally, any university course in Swedish patent law clearly teaches there are four requirements for patentability:

"For the method to be patentable it must be

  1. an invention
  2. that is industrially applicable
  3. that is new ...
  4. and meets the inventive step requirement." (Source)

Nevertheless the officials from the Ministry of Justice insist there are only three.

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