The battle to prevent software patents being introduced in Europe received a major boost on Wednesday afternoon when the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament (EP) demanded that the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID) be rewritten.
A EP spokesman confirmed on Thursday that the president will be asked by the European Commission (EC) to take the patent directive back to the drawing board.
Piia-Noora Kauppi, a Finnish MEP who was present at the JURI meeting, said this decision had considerable support from the members of the Legal Affairs Committee.
"The decision was reached with an overwhelming majority of the Committee, and with the support of all major political groups," said Kauppi.
Opponents of the directive fear that it will herald the widespread patenting of software in Europe -- a claim rejected by supporters of the directive.
Florian Mueller, the campaign manager of an anti-patent Web site, said it is great news for anti-patent campaigners, but warned that the battle is not yet over.
"It's a fantastic turning point because in all likelihood we've now succeeded in doing away with last year's Council text," said Mueller. "The FFII and other anti-patent campaigners now have a chance to organise ourselves even better for the future. That's what our opponents are doing -- they're not going to give up."
The EP spokesman said the EC is not obliged to agree to the EP's request for a restart, but is likely to adhere to the will of the parliament. But an EC spokesman said that the Commission has not yet decided anything and will "keep its options open" and "see what happens with the EU Council".
Mueller said the EU Council is unlikely to ratify the controversial directive in the immediate future as their decision could be overturned by the restart motion proposed by the EP.
"They will probably wait for a month or two until the dust has settled on the restart," said Mueller.