The European Parliament has again delayed voting on the directive to allow patenting of software in the European Union, as is allowed in the US.
The vote on the Directive on the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions, originally scheduled for June then postponed to 1 September, has now been put back to 22 September.
Industry groups fear that patenting software, which is currently covered by copyright laws in the same way as written material, could stifle innovation and harm small software development companies.
A spokeswoman in the office of Arlene McCarthy, the MEP with responsibility for the directive, told vnunet.com that the delay was purely "administrative".
But suspicion exists that the European Parliament is simply buying time in the face of fierce lobbying against the measure.
Last week, protests were held outside the European Parliament in Brussels, organised by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure and open source organisation EuroLinux.
EuroLinux has collected nearly 200,000 signatures for a petition against the directive.
In addition, 12 leading European economists sent an open letter to the European Parliament urging it to reject the proposals.
The letter warned of the appearance of "extensive portfolios of software patents" which would have "serious detrimental effects on European innovation, growth and competitiveness".
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