Software patent vote delayed

Summary:The European Parliament, facing mounting controversy over U.S.-style software-patenting legislation, delays a key vote until September.

The European Parliament, facing mounting controversy over U.S.-style software-patenting legislation, has delayed a key vote until September.

A Monday vote on a controversial software patents proposal in the European Parliament has been put back until September, amid criticism that the legislation would institute a U.S.-style patent regime that would be detrimental to European small businesses and open-source software developers.

The proposed software-patenting legislation is the result of a European Commission effort to clarify patenting rules as they apply to "computer-implemented inventions," a term that includes software. The patent offices of various EU member states currently have different criteria for accepting the validity of software-related patents, a situation that the commission's proposal aims to remedy.

However, opponents of the suggested legislation charge that its ambiguity would effectively allow most software to be patented, a situation that currently exists in the United States. Critics have compared that situation to allowing a monopoly on the ideas in novels.

"It seems that we are on the verge of adopting a patenting regime modeled on that of the U.S., at the very moment when critics in that country have begun to be forceful and articulate in condemning it," Andrew Duff, a European Parliament member from the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, a software developer lobbying group, hailed the delay as a victory for the democratic process.

Topics: Software

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.