An Overview of the Software Patent Debate

"In today's era of open source proliferation, beyond patent disputes themselves, there are people and groups that have called into question the validity of issuing software patents in the first place.

The European Union, for example, is currently in a state of legal limbo with regards to the legality of software patents, with some arguing that they are expressly prohibited. Yet companies are still being granted software patents that apply in the EU.

Prominent members of the open source community have come out against the granting of software patents in the EU. The nosoftwarepatents.com movement (which is nominally backed by MySQL and Red Hat) has made numerous pronouncements..."

For an overview of the issues involved, see this internetnews.com article.