The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has voted by a significant majority to scrap a proposed pan-European patent law.
The decision to return the draft legislation to the drawing board came despite heavy lobbying by the large software houses, with Nokia, Alcatel and UK Science Minister Lord Sainsbury backing the proposals. Even Bill Gates visited the European Parliament yesterday in support of the controversial proposals.
Nevertheless, the Committee voted to ask the European Commission to withdraw its proposal with 19 in favour, two against and one abstention.
"It's a spectacular victory for democracy," said Florian Mueller, manager of the pan-European NoSoftwarePatents.com campaign.
"This is like Rocky II with an instant rematch. We're light years away from the final credits. I guess our situation is like that of Manchester United after Teddy Sheringham's equaliser in the 1999 Champions League final. We have to keep pushing. In our case, for years to come."
The European Commission prepared the text for the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive last year, but many in the software community were worried that allowing the patenting of code would be used to stifle small software developers with onerous royalty payments.
It was the expansion of the EU which helped fight the directive's implementation, with newly elected member state Poland vetoing it twice and allowing time for the vote to take place.
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