European legislators have watered down proposals for the European parliament that would have made it more difficult for companies to patent their software products.
The proposals had been opposed by Microsoft, Nokia, Siemens and other large suppliers, who feared the move could make it easier for rivals to copy intellectual property.
Supporters of the proposals claimed that existing patent laws allowed large companies to stifle competition by protecting minor software innovations, to the detriment of the open source community, for instance.
The European parliament's legal affairs committee diluted the patenting proposals and has produced a bill that opponents claim will keep the status quo.
The bill will now go before the full European parliament for ratification, where it is expected to face determined opposition.