A European Parliament committee Tuesday moved toward setting the first pan-European standard for software patents, but outlawed the U.S. practice of patenting business methods, such as Amazon’s one-click Internet shopping. ‘The European law sets the right benchmark rather than the looser U.S. system,’ said the director of public policy for Europe at the Business Software Alliance, which represents 20 software companies including Microsoft and Apple.

Competitors saw one-click as little more than a simple combination of existing Web technologies. Amazon sued its arch-rival Barnes & Noble Inc. in October 1999 in the U.S. district court here, alleging that Barnes & Noble.com was illegally copying Amazon’s patent. In March 2002, the two companies settled the suit. Terms of the settlement remained confidential.

Amazon representatives in Brussels declined to comment on the new European legislation.

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