Research Handbook on EU Internet Law
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Research Handbook on EU Internet Law

Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski

This innovative book provides an overview of the latest developments and controversies in European Internet law. It is grouped in sections that correspond to the most disputed areas, looking consecutively at policy and governance, copyright, private international law, E-commerce & consumer protection and citizens and their position on the Internet. More than a basic introduction. The authors go further than a basic introduction into the field, as they highlight the challenges that European law- and policy-makers face when attempting to regulate the Internet.
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Chapter 7: Software patents and the digital environment

Philip Leith


Since the storm of summer 2005, there has been relative calm. The storm was, of course, the unsuccessful attempt by the European Commission to interject itself into the debate on software patents through the proposal for a Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions – an interjection it saw as based upon the need to harmonise the internal market and partly because it resented the independent role of the European Patent Office as an international agency controlling European matters. The proposed Directive met its end in a highly charged and politically contentious manner, as the European Parliament voted 648 to 14 for rejection. The Commission, in the Explanatory Memorandum, had noted the economic urgency needed to resolve issues of what should be properly protected: employment in software production was rising and that ‘each packaged software job creates 2–4 jobs in the downstream economy and 1 job in the upstream economy’. This flowering of wealth generation, they suggested, might be under strain due to the lack of legal certainty in the protection of software by patent: While the statutory provisions setting out the conditions for granting such patents are similar, their application in the case law and the administrative practices of Member States is divergent. There are differences, in particular, between the case law of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office and the courts of Member States.

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