A European Parliament committee has ordered a rewrite of the proposals for controversial new European Union rules which govern computer-based inventions.
The patent law could have ramifications for programmers
The Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) said the Commission should re-submit the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive after MEPs failed to back it.
It has had vocal critics who say it could favour large over small firms and impact open-source software innovation.
Supporters say it would let firms protect their inventions.
The directive is intended to offer patent protection to inventions that use software to achieve their effect, in other words, "computer implemented invention".
The draft law suffered setbacks when Poland, one of the largest EU member states, rejected its adoption twice in two months.
Intense lobbying on the issue has started to gain momentum in some national parliaments putting them under immense pressure.
Only two MEPs backed the draft law at the JURI meeting, with one voting to abstain.
Opponents of the draft directive welcomed the decision and said a new first reading of the proposals would give the EU a chance to have fuller debates about its implications in all member states.
In the US, the patenting of computer programs and internet business methods is permitted.
This means that the US-based Amazon.com holds a patent for its "one-click shopping" service, for example.
Critics are concerned that the directive could lead to a similar model happening in Europe.
This, they fear, could hurt small software developers because they do not have the legal and financial might of larger companies if they had to fight patent legal action in court.
Supporters say current laws are inefficient and it would serve to even up a playing field without bringing EU laws in line with the US.