Today, thousands of activists and open source developers in Europe must be shouting “Damn you all to hell”. The European Council has decided to adopt the proposed text of the software patents directive (pardon me, the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive). The procedure seems to have been dodgy to say the least, with some inventive dealings from the Council’s presidency to allow a text as an agreement that was anything but. The procedure is explained briefly here by Karl Lenz, and it seems to have prompted a documentation request by JURI, the Legal Affairs Committee.
So, what now? If there are any patent lawyers celebrating, they should not open the bottles yet. It is my understanding that this agreement still has to go back to the Parliament, where the shenanigans from the Council are likely to produce a serious backlash. Then there is going to be a long string of articles that attempt to tell people about what is really happening. This article for example actually does a good job of explaining why the directive may be bad for SMEs.
My take? There is no telling what will happen, but the dubious procedure will make this directive a prime target for some sort of review. I don’t know enough of European Law procedures, but I would guess that this is something that could be reviewed by the European Court of Justice. Any good European appeal lawyers out there?