European software patent debate reignited

The European Commission has launched a consultation on the introduction of a European-wide software patenting system, months after seeing the proposal rejected by the European Parliament.

The European Commission has launched a consultation on the introduction of a European-wide software patenting system, months after seeing the proposal rejected by the European Parliament.

European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Charlie McGreevy, launched the consultation today – a move which is destined to create continued fierce debate over the desirability of any software patents.

At the moment, individual EU states set their own software patent rules. When the proposal for a European-wide patenting system was proposed last year, the main battle lines were drawn between supporters of free and open-source software and supporters and lobbyists of proprietary software.

After a fudge vote over the issue in the European Parliament, the idea for a European-wide patenting system was shelved. But both sides knew the idea would again re-appear from the Commission.

McGreevy has invited private citizens, commercial enterprises and other stakeholders to take part in the consultation, which will run until 31 March this year.

The results of the internet debate will form the basis of a hearing on the issue in June.

Details on the consultation are available here:

http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/indprop/patent/consultation_en.htm

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