July 06, 2005

Software patents bill overturned

From theregister.com

The European Parliament has voted by a massive majority to reject the software patents directive, formally known as the Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions. The vote to scrap the bill was passed by a margin of 648 votes to 14, with 18 abstentions.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) says the rejection is a logical response to the Commission and Council's refusal to take parliament's will into consideration.

Anti-software patent campaigner Florian Muller argues that today's vote was prompted by events back in February, when the parliament's committee of legal affairs, JURI, voted for a restart of the legislative process. That vote was flatly ignored by the European Commission, which decided instead to move on to a second reading.

"A nightmare is over," Muller says. "Next time around, let's honestly discuss the pros and cons of pure software patents, and then we can get a great directive that won't die a dishonourable death like this."

It looks as if members on both sides of the debate chose to reject the bill in its current form. Supporters of patents would have been unhappy with the numerous amendments to the bill and will thus work on creating a motion thatís more appealing to sceptics. At stake is future innovation in the realm of software. The introduction of software patents may hamper or prevent small firms or individuals from creating rival goods. Without the funds to hire a legal team, such groups may be susceptible to pressure from more powerful firms and unable to defend legitimate claims.


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