Conference: Software Law : Latest developments in Europe - Second edition

Ulys, a lawyer firm based in Brussels, is organising a second conference on software patents. FFII had attended the first version of the conference organised during the second reading of the software patents directive.


Software Law : Latest developments in Europe - Second edition

Date and place

26 april 2006 at Fondation Universitaire Universitaire Stichting (Room A), Brussels


Joost Verbeek, Paul Van den Bulck, Evelyn Heffermehl


Protection des programmes d'ordinateur, Contrats informatiques, Propriété littéraire et artistique

More infos



We have the honour to invite you to the conference our firm organise in Brussels on the 26th of April 2006. This conference will be an unique opportunity to address and discuss the latest developments in software law in Europe, with keynote speakers. The admission is free and a lunch will be offered to the participants.


Send an email to: michelle.mollar-at-ulys.net with the following details:


FFII's notes

Paul van den Bulk and Software patents

What's a computer-implemented invention? Is software patentable? This was the non-simple object of the Paul Van den Bulk's presentation.

Referring to international law texts, there's an ambiguity. Whereas computer programs seems to be protected as literary works referring to WIPO copyright treaty December 20, 1996 (art. 4), for instance, Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property remains silent...

And what about the European Patent Convention? For we all know that EPO has been delivering European patent on software for more than 20 years... It says that European patents shall be granted for any inventions with industrial application. The exceptions concerned non-technical innovations such as aesthetic creations...

But the real problem and very point of the analysis is to determine exactly what is technical and what is not. EPO's tautological definition did not help. A technical innovation involve technical meanings to solve a technical problem using particular technical means ! The “exceptions” are interpreted narrowly. For example, ABS is patented. Why? Because this invention have a “technical character” that is implemented by a computer program. As to EPO, every software may be patented because of generating a technical effect into interacting with material reality (the simple fact of producing a visual effect).

In short, patenting or not patenting software appears to be finally only a question of interpretation and formulation.

Fortunately, national jurisdictions are not bind by the decisions of the EPO. But what about tomorrow? European Commission and EPO tried in vain to patent software, since when...?

To conclude his analysis, Paul van den Bulk advances three possible improvements : changing the “tangible” approach of the EPO, defining precisely the word “technical” applied to invention and finally fixing the institutional limits of the EPO (the same institution grants and has jurisdictional power).

Agoria representative closing speech

The representative of Agoria closed the panel by reading a statement from the association, and he pointed out that the main reason for having software patents in the EU was the threat that some companies would not be able to have protection for their inventions, and thus, would prefer to go in a country outside the EU. Someone in the audience pointed out that it does not make sense, since the place where the R&D is made and where the product is sold can be different. Someone also asked how the position of Agoria to support the Council position last year was made, and the representative answered that members were consulted.

Hosting sponsored by Netgate and Init Seven AG