So while it wouldnt be impossible for the European Parliament to amend or reject the patent law, it is very unlikely. The main hope is in the parliaments anger at being ignored by the European Commission. Anti-patent forces in Europe will have to work hard to lobby their representatives in parliament and make sure that all those opposed to the law show up when votes take place. And those of us in the United States will have to hope that these forces are successful. As I said in my previous column, if Europe rejected software patents, it could potentially be a strong force in reforming the broken software patent system we currently have in the United States.Click here to read how an EU patent law could affect open source. As Ive said before, patents in software make very little sense. Imagine if Raymond Chandler had patented the dangerous woman or Alfred Hitchcock had patented long, unbroken film shots or if the Beatles had patented the verse-chorus-verse pop song? Most people would consider patents for these and similar things to be silly, but they are very similar in scope to many software patents. Thats whyas in books, movies and musicthe proper intellectual-property protection for software is copyright protections, not patents. Supporters of the proposed European software patent law have said that its passage is needed for Europe to become a dominant business force. But if this law isnt overturned, many European-based firms could go out of business or be consumed by large U.S. software firms. And then the only dominant force in Europe when it comes to software will be big American companies. eWEEK Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.
If the European law passes, U.S.-style software patents will spread through even more of the world. Innovative and small software firms that recently thrived recently in Europe will face a potential onslaught of broad and obvious patents from U.S. companies. And the law could be used directly to limit or prevent the spread and growth of open-source software.