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Against all expectations, the final vote on the European software patents directive was postponed this afternoon. The Polish Minister of Science and Information Technology, Wlodzimierz Marcinski, made a special journey to Brussels to demand that the directive be dropped from the agenda.

According to the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure), Mr Marcinski felt the trip to Brussels was neccessary because of the pressure Poland's permanent representatives were under to accept the draft as it was.

The decision has been welcomed by anti-patent campaigners, who said Mr. Marcinski should be praised for his courage.

James Heald, a spokesman for the FFII, said: "The fact that the unilateral declarations of concerns by member states contained more text than the actual directive itself only accentuated the proposed text's woeful lack of support and lack of democratic legitimacy."

Equally, the decision has been roundly condemned by EICTA, the European tech industry's trade body. Director General Mark MacGann warned that without passing the directive, Europe risked "being caught up in a negative spiral where other regions of the world can take advantage of European investment in innovation, while European companies are weakened in their home market".

What the delay means for the directive now is uncertain. Poland's minister asked for time to prepare a "constructive declaration" on the directive. Several countries support this position, having changed their stance since the vote on the text in May. Germany has already issued a statement saying that the compromise text has "room for improvement"

It is possible that the Luxembourg presidency will take a different approach and allow more discussion of the content of the draft, but the draft could just as easily show up on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of ministers.®

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