"A key issue at the conference, which opened Monday, will be
whether software developers should be allowed to patent their
applications. Current European law does not allow software to be
patented, but the European Patent Office (EPO) is heavily in favor
of an extension of the patent system that would extend its coverage
"Complicating the issue, some opponents of software patents
charge that the voting process instituted by the European patent
office is badly flawed and may result in a ruling for patents that
would go against the wishes of the majority of European
"Open-source organizations such as EuroLinux Alliance for a Free
Information Infrastructure and The Association for the Promotion of
a Free Informational Infrastructure say that software patents, as
they exist in the United States, tend to stifle innovation, create
tremendous legal risks for small and medium enterprises and reduce
the incentive for knowledge sharing."
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