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Software & Patents: Open Source Consortium Sets Up Task Force

How Does New European Patent Proposal Impact Open Source?

The Open Source Consortium has set up a task force to study the implications of a change in European patent law about open source technology. The task force's mission is also to include creating a cohesive response to the current debate concerning open source material. The Consortium's executive director, Mark Taylor, will head the task force.

Taylor said he will take on what he considers to be the most pressing issue facing open source use. He stated, "There has been a great deal of noise recently about the IP and patent law issues on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the most pressing issue is the prospect of a change in current European law."

The task force is made up of members from industry, government and the open source community across Europe. Legal services specializing in intellectual property rights are also to help. Taylor said he sees the OSC board as an agent of change. "It seems timely therefore the OSC should now serve as a fulcrum for action by providing a unified, cohesive approach that identifies and campaigns for the best interests of the open source movement."

Among the terms of reference from the OSC advisory board is establishing a consultation process to provide a dialogue with open source stakeholders. This will poll opinion from domestic and European government contacts already represented on the OSC committee, with the Consortium's corporate network and those members of the open source community actively involved in deploying leading enterprise ready projects."

Taylor said he hopes to bring a more unified and substantive position on behalf of opponents to patent controls that create restrictions in use of open source material. He said, "Much of the opinion generated by the stakeholders of the open source movement, to date, has been atomistic and uncoordinated. However, there does seem to be an emerging trend that strong European patent laws, far from protecting innovators, will in fact emasculate the development of open source technology. Indeed one has to face the prospect of a market mired in litigation for years. On the other hand there does seem to be fairly strong support for protection of intellectual property as a concept and a right."


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Goodnews 02/01/05 04:37:23 PM EST

Or the bill could go back to the beginning. There is increasing momentum here in Europe for precisely this to happen - and not just from new entrants like the OSC, but old favourites such as FSF Europe. And don't forget the increasing number of Governments opposing (Thank you Poland!).
If the process is restarted, the OSC's initiative will be essential to represent the views of the *emerging* industry that has grown out of the F/L/OSS movement. The voice of the proprietary vendors has been heard by the EU, it's time they heard the voice of Open Source businesses...

Bad news 02/01/05 03:12:09 PM EST

The law could still be ratified whenever it appears on the agenda of an EU meeting - that could even be tomorrow. So this task force may be too late

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