PUSH FOR PATENT CHANGE, GOVERNMENT URGED - The patentability of computer implemented inventions may not be the talk of the breakfast table this morning but according to the people who should know, the latest EU directive on the issue threatens to undermine a lot of the software success we have been enjoying.

A number of Irish companies will raise their concerns on it at a meeting of  the Dail Committee on European Affairs this morning.

Trinity Venture Capital's investment director Brian Caulfield says patents are the main mechanism used by high-tech companies to prevent their inventions being copied or used without permission.

He says the directive was aimed at harmonising EU rules, but the European Parliament passed some amendments in September which would make it impossible to patent any software-related invention. Mr Caulfield said he feared this would cost jobs by reducing investment in the sector.

But he said he was happy with the Government's response so far. The Government has prepared an alternative text which the industry is supporting. He hopes this will be adopted.


TAX BOOST ADDS TO McCREEVY OPTIONS - The latest Exchequer returns show that money is pouring into the State's coffers at a rate way ahead of expectations.

Revenues are already €500m ahead of target for the year, and most of the extra money has come in the form of income tax.

After a period belt-tightening on the public finances, can the Minister for Finance now revert to more expansionary mode?

Philip Lane, Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin, says Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy is now firmly in control of spending, but will now have to achieve a balance between increased spending and value for money.

He says the improvement in finances means something further can be done to encourage savings when the SSIA scheme ends, but he believes any follow-up scheme will be 'much less generous'.

On taxes, the economist believes the most likely response will come through increases in bands, rather than a move in tax rates.


IRISH COKE INSIDER RISES TO TOP - Coca-Cola last night named 60-year-old Irish citizen Neville Isdell as its new chief executive. The 60-year-old is a veteran of the drinks industry, having joined Coke in 1966.


MARKETS - The euro is worth $1.215 and 68p sterling.