The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to reject a law that would have given software common patent protection across all countries in the European Union.

The decision, by 648 votes to 14, was preceded by a fierce four-year battle between those who supported the idea that companies should be able to own software – and the inventions that use it – and those who backed the idea that software breakthroughs should be shared widely and freely. That battle will continue, though it will have to be fought separately in each of the 25 member states of the EU.

Both opponents and supporters of tougher patents in the Parliament united Wednesday to reject the bill – with supporters fearing that amendments would be added that would have undermined existing national patent protection. Opponents, meanwhile, said the law would have bolstered the market power of big companies.

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Posted by: David Oh on 7/7/2005 10:33:53 AM