Vendors warn Euro patents bill won't add up

Abort? Cancel? Retry?

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Corporate support for the European Directive on Software patents is fading fast ahead of the parliamentary vote tomorrow, with big technology companies saying no directive would be better than one muddled by too many amendments.

Telecoms equipment maker, Alcatel, says that a departure from the Common Position would be dangerous to the future of the company, and would threaten jobs in Europe. Meanwhile Philips has said that an amended directive would be legally confusing, adding that it would rather see it withdrawn.

According to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, conservative MEP Klaus-Heiner Lehne is trying to establish a majority of MEPs to vote for a rejection of the Council's "Common Position", even before any amendments are discussed.

The FFII says it is no coincidence that supporters of the Common Position, like Lehne, are now calling for the directive to be dropped. It claims that parliament is close to establishing a majority of MEPs in support of the amendments tabled by Michel Rocard. The amendments would put limits on patentability, it argues, and so the directive should only be rejected if the 367 votes needed to pass the changes cannot be found.

The FFII adds that the Commission can still withdraw the bill, if it sees fit to do so, even if the amendments are passed. Commissioner Charlie McCreevy confirmed today that if he is not happy with the bill passed by parliament, he is still prepared to withdraw the directive. He also said that if the bill is rejected, he will not table an alternative.

MEPs will vote on the amendments and the future of the directive tomorrow. ®

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