EU Council Passes Software Patent Law

As expected, European governments have approved a controversial bill allowing software patents, despite objections from Denmark, Poland and Portugal. The draft legislation, called the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, will now be sent back to the European Parliament for a second reading.

The directive's fate is still uncertain, however, as the parliament could demand further changes. The EU Parliament has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the bill, requesting that it be returned for a first reading in February.

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The European Commission denied that request for fear of disrupting standard legislative process and setting a precedent for future directives. Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy says he will work with the parliament and EU governments to ensure a compromise is met.

"I will work to make sure these concerns are taken into account in the interest of a balanced result," McCreevy told reporters.

The software patent bill has met with objection from the start. Polish representatives twice rejected its adoption, while Spain and the Netherlands have supported a restart. In February, hundreds of protesters gathered in Brussels to convince European lawmakers to drop the proposal entirely.

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