European Union rejects software patents; starts new process

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Thursday, February 3, 2005 Despite assurances from the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Charles McCreevy that the Council would adopt its controversial Common Position text covering Software Patents, members voted to restart the entire process with a new directive.

MEP Michel Rocard noted several "inelegancies" by the Commission in his speech against the directive, such as not taking into account any of the Parliament's substantive amendments in its recommendation to the Council. He also took the Dutch and German governments to task for ignoring their respective parliaments. The Irish Presidency's sponsorship by Microsoft was also criticised, as were the attempted ratifications at fishery Council meetings.

There was also confusion over the actual effects of the proposed directive with industry players confirming that the Council text allowed pure software patents, while the Commission claimed it would not.

"In the debate, broad agreement prevailed over the fact that the current proposal was counter-productive and far from a good basis for a decision," said Italian MEP Monica Frassoni.

The computer-implemented inventions directive was voted down by members of European Parliament (MEP) in the legal affairs committee. 19 MEPs voted in favour of re-starting negotiations, 2 against with one abstention.

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