A controversial EU bill to patent software-related innovations stands to fail. Large technology companies say changes sought by the European Parliament, to restrict patenting, would invite others to use their ideas freely. Smaller companies want to limit the scope of patents. They say patenting will stifle innovation. Rufus Pollock, with the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, is highly critical of the bill: “It will create a mine-field. It will make it very difficult for small and medium-size enterprises to take part in the system. It will just become as cartel-ized; Just big companies who could participate.”
The bill aims to harmonise how patents on innovations are applied. Mark MacGann is director of the European Information and Communication Technology Industry association: “I find it sad that in today’s Europe big companies are pitted against small and medium-sized enterprises. What is happening in our industry, one of Europe’s most dynamic, representing 8% of Europe’s revenue, is the creation of veritable eco-systems where the big need the smaller and the smaller need the bigger.” Liberal and centre-right parties have talked about a relatively wide definition of what can be patented, the Greens and most socialists a narrow definition. The European Commission has warned that if the bill is defeated in this Wednesday’s parliamentary vote it will not submit fresh legislation.