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Tech firms want Europe patent software law pulled

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European high-tech leaders said on Monday they would prefer the European Parliament to scrap a controversial software patent law rather than confuse it with dozens of amendments when it votes later this week.

Big technology firms said most, if not all, amendments to the original proposal, or Common Position, should be taken off the table. Consumer interest groups, which have added dozens more amendments in recent weeks, urged European Members of Parliament to vote in favor of key amendments.

"Any departure from the Common Position would put at risk our future prosperity and significant numbers of jobs across Europe," Serge Tchuruk, the Chief Executive of French telecoms equipment maker Alcatel, said in a statement.

The European Parliament is set to vote on the law on Wednesday, but Netherlands-based electronics conglomerate Philips said it was best withdrawn before it was cluttered with amendments.

"It will become legally confusing," a spokeswoman said.

The debate has heated up over the last two weeks, since the European Parliament's legal affairs committee voted in favor of the proposed law, while accepting some amendments.

Dozens of new amendments have been added since, including three that propose to pull the law.

Two-thirds of all European patents are technology-related, and many innovations are at least partly software-based.

Opposing the big tech firms are open source software supporters, including many smaller firms. Smaller firms also point out that only multinationals can afford to defend patents in court, and say patents lock up markets.

The text of the bill has gone back and forth between European Parliament and the Commission. Lawmakers demanded in February that the EU executive withdraw and revise the bill to favor small firms and the open source community of independent software developers.

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