In a move likely spawned more by the lack of leadership in software than by a true belief in free markets, the European Union has rejected the pending legislation on software patents. According an article from CNet, the landslide victory is likely to result in a delay of at least months before another attempt will be made.
Not that I'm complaining about the move. I think that the software patent movement is aimed at locking up business for large companies and making it difficult for small companies to actually survive and innovate, especially iteratively.
Further, this is seen as a substantial victory for the open source movement, for whom software patents are a real threat.
Unfortunately, as pointed out by another article from the BBC News, this isn't the end of software patents, just the end of homogenization of them throughout Europe. Any existing software patent laws will continue in place until such time as there is some kind of harmonizing move, which is unlikely to occur soon.
It seems as if nobody remembers that a patent isn't a right, it's a temporary monopoly granted by the government in return for full disclosure to the public domain in a reasonable period of time to promote the advancement of the art and foster innovation.
Patent times should be appropriately sized with the rate of innovation, but instead, patents have been expanding as innovation happens faster, which is a stifling prospect.