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Patent protest planned in Brussels

Patent critics plan to march past buildings of main EU bodies to protest controversial software directive.

Patent critics are planning a protest against the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive in Brussels later this week.

On Thursday, antipatent campaigners will march past the buildings of the main European Union bodies--the EU Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament--involved in the controversial software patent directive. The protest is being organized by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, a pan-European pressure group that claims to have more than 75,000 supporters.

Earlier this month, a European Parliament committee demanded that the directive be started from scratch. But the EU Council and the European Commission appear reluctant to observe its request, with the Commission stating last week that it was "very disappointed" that the EU Council has postponed ratifying the directive.

Dieter Van Uytvanck, a spokesman for the FFII, said he hopes the demonstration will show the Council and Commission the level of opposition for the directive.

"The Council and the Commission have demonstrated over and over again that they do not show the slightest respect for the European citizen," Van Uytvanck said in a statement. "Over and over again, they continue to promote software patents with a complete neglect of the opposing voices from a large majority in the EU parliament. Enough is enough, and on Feb. 17, they will know it."

Protestors are encouraged to bring banners with them. The FFII has given various suggestions for what to print on the banners including: "This is not a banana republic--No software patents!" and "Software is like sex; it is better when it's free."

At the time of writing, only 49 people had registered their attendance online, although the FFII said it expects up to 10 times more than the number who register.

More details on the demonstration can be found on the FFII Web site.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.