The European Union's attempt to develop a trans-European software patent policy has fallen into acrimony.

The International Herald Tribune reports that officials in a number of member states say that votes cast by delegates at a May 18 meeting on the subject "did not reflect the position of their governments".

Poland, Portugal, Germany and Denmark where among the member states that believe their opinions were incorrectly reported. The Dutch Parliament last week asked Europe to reverse its 'yes' vote as recorded May 18, prompting other member states to consider changing their positions as well.

The EU debate captures the wide division between well-heeled corporations with vast resources to protect their patents, and smaller groups such as open-source developers who "oppose software patents", the report says.

However, big business wants software patents to be applicable across Europe.