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Are Patents Pending?

In Europe, demonstrators hit the streets as a vote over software patent law nears

The issue of software patents in Europe heated up last week as some 250 demonstrators descended on the European Parliament to argue in favor of strong software patent laws. Earlier in the week, Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee ruled in favor of patent protection for software in some instances. A vote is scheduled for next month, although a resolution seems far away.

The issue pits pro-patent Microsoft against some computer companies and users. "The European Commission, the European Patent Office, and the European Council all want to enforce patents," said a spokesman for the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, which generally wants the current European patent system changed as it relates to software. "The only group saying no to patents is Parliament."

A group supporting Microsoft's position, called the Campaign for Creativity, launched a balloon "symbolizing the risks of allowing European Innovation to float away." Both sides maintain their approach leads to better innovation.

This story was modified on June 30 to clarify the position of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure.

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