McCarthy said there is a danger that member states could cut the European Parliament out of the lawmaking process by scrapping the directive altogether and instead revising the existing Munich Patent Convention, which is the legal base for the existing patent regime operated by the European Patent Office (EPO).
The EPO regime is a patchwork of national interpretations of the Patent Convention. One of the aims of the EU directive was to harmonize the approach to patents across the European Union.
McCarthy said scrapping the directive would be a bad outcome for the software industry. "The existing regime is supposed to outlaw business method patents, but some are being approved. Without an EU-wide law there will always be a danger that European law slides towards the law in the U.S.," she said.
Ministers from member state governments are scheduled to debate the directive in November. It is common for the European Parliament to tone down its differences with the EC and the member state governments, once all branches of the EU have had a chance to issue debate issues.
"We want to be careful not to push too far," McCarthy said.
The directive would only come into effect as law if Parliament and the national governments agree on its wording. Once they agree, the 15 member states have about 18 months to implement the directive into their own national laws.