03.13.08

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Europe to Increase Use of Free Software, Lobbyists Try to Force Software Patents Onto Europe

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s headache continues, underhanded tactics ensue

A press release from europa.eu reaffirms and substantiates what many knew would come. [via Glyn Moody]

EU: European Commission to increase its use of Open Source

[...]

The European Commission will take a more pro-active approach to its own use of Open Source.

In a document published last week, the EC states among others that the Commission will prefer Open Source software for its new IT projects: “For all new development, where deployment and usage is foreseen by parties outside of the Commission Infrastructure, Open Source Software will be the preferred development and deployment platform.”

According to the document, the EC is an early adopter of Open Source. A first strategy document on this type of software was presented in 2000. However, it is for the first time the European Commission publishes such a document. Valerie Rampie, spokesperson or Siim Kallas, the European commissioner who is responsible for administrative affairs, said the publication of the strategy is “mainly for information purposes”.

Need it also be mentioned that, according to this new article, the US Navy is now dumping proprietary software and will focus only on free/open source software? [via Matt Asay]

“The days of proprietary technology must come to an end,” [Vice Admiral Mark Edwards, deputy chief of naval operations for communications] said. “We will no longer accept systems that couple hardware, software and data.”

When Steve Ballmer said just two weeks ago that Microsoft’s number one competitor is Linux, he probably meant it. This has actually been said for many years, albeit reluctantly.

“Microsoft will make every possible attempt to limit or illegalise Linux.”So, how will Microsoft responds? Will it embrace Linux? Will it resort to more FUD tactics or find another brigadier like SCO? More likely, Microsoft will continue to try to change the law and also spend on manufacturing precedences. Microsoft will make every possible attempt to limit or illegalise Linux.

Digital Majority continues to take a close look at the situation in Europe. Several articles seem to suggest that the lobbyists are busy. Very busy. Here is one obnoxious report from Ireland.

O’Connor is a leading expert on European software patents and explained to his audience, which comprised 250 technology transfer and intellectual property experts from a range of companies and universities including Yahoo!, Microsoft, MIT, UC Berkeley and Stanford, why software patent applications fail in Europe, and what needs to be done to resolve these problems.

On the issue of ambiguities in the law getting misused, see this article.

The problem arose because the EPC and the derivative UK Patents Act excluded from patentability “methods of doing business and computer programs ‘as such’”. It took a number of stages to get a consistent interpretation of what was allowed. The problem arose because a computer program is often a convenient way of implementing a set of instructions which produce a technical advance (technical effect in patent-speak). Early on it was decided both in the EPO and in the UK courts that where the computer program is used to implement a method which produces a technical advantage, the process would be patentable.

Lastly, see how a fight against software patents gets described as a loss in the Guardian.

The chief judge in the landmark European Microsoft antitrust case highlighted the doubts of critics on Wednesday, saying in his first public comments on the decision he hopes it will not discourage investors.
The 13-judge Grand Chamber of the European Union’s second highest court handed down a sweeping ruling in September, upholding a tough European Commission decision saying Microsoft abused its dominance of PC operating systems to crush rivals. It also endorsed a 497-million euro fine.

[...]

Vesterdorf said that many critics believe the decision weakened patent law and the rights of patent holders to do as they wished with their intellectual property.
There was no doubt that the CFI had significantly enhanced the authority of the European Commission beyond its rulings earlier cases, he said, giving it “a wide margin of appreciation.”

Mind the use of the word “investors”, which is very different from the word “inventors”. Patents are increasingly seen as a financial tool which serves not the developers but serves those who capitalise and profit while they marginalise and elbow rivals off their ‘intellectual territories’. In light of that last article bemoaning the EU’s decision, consider the quote below.

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government Official, Washington Post

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2 Comments

  1. SubSonica said,

    March 14, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Gravatar

    “When Steve Ballmer said just two weeks ago that Microsoft’s number one competitor is Linux, he probably meant it.”

    Well, you are right. Have a look at the latest available 10Q SEC filing (Q1) from Microsoft:
    http://www.microsoft.com/msft/SEC/default.mspx
    http://www.microsoft.com/msft/download/FY08/Q1-08_10Q.doc

    You can see 1A section Risk asessment : First is “alternatives to our business model” and … GNU/Linux! (page 31)

    “A prominent example of open source software is the Linux operating system. Although we believe our products provide customers with significant advantages in security, productivity, and total cost of ownership, the popularization of the open source software model continues to pose a significant challenge to our business model, including continuing efforts by proponents of open source software to convince governments worldwide to mandate the use of open source software in their purchase and deployment of software products. To the extent open source software gains increasing market acceptance, sales of our products may decline, we may have to reduce the prices we charge for our products, and revenue and operating margins may consequently decline. ”

    So here you have it: GNU/Linux is enemy Nº 1. And they are going to fight aginst govenrments adopting it. Guess what is the role of MSOOXML and the whole world corruption circus involving ISO around? (Pillar 1)

    They are as well concerned about patents not protecting them as much as they do in the US (they forget to mention “the other side of the coin” how dear patent lawsuits are costing them):

    “, the absence of harmonized patent laws makes it more difficult to ensure consistent respect for patent rights. Throughout the world, we actively educate consumers about the benefits of licensing genuine products and obtaining indemnification benefits for intellectual property risks, and we educate lawmakers about the advantages of a business climate where intellectual property rights are protected. However, continued educational and enforcement efforts may fail to enhance revenue. Reductions in the legal protection for software intellectual property rights or additional compliance burdens could both adversely affect revenue. ”

    So expect them to push for worldwide software patentability. They try to corrupt the legislative systems by “educating lawmakers” in order to protect their revenue and profit margins (Pillar 2)

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 14, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Gravatar

    Yes, this is tracked pretty well by Digital Majority, with whom I’ve been in touch recently (I still communicate with people whose writings intersect with ours).

    Re: “Throughout the world, we actively educate consumers about the benefits”

    I suppose you’ve heard about Microsoft giving young children IP education. They want to raise a generation of zombies whose future inclination is to legalise ownership of simple ideas. But that’s a separate topic we needn’t go into. I cover this elsewhere and add pointers to the link digests. :-)

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