Readers who made it all the way through the OSRM article may be wondering:
what harm can a list of potential patent problems do, anyway? Consider
this: in Munich, the Green Party, which is a steadfast opponent of software
patents, compiled a list of patents which could be infringed by the city's
future Linux-based IT system, should software patents be enacted in
Europe. That list is available as
a German-language PDF file
. The intent was clearly to spread awareness
of the potential consequences of software patents in Europe.
The tactic may have worked a little too well: the first request for bids in
the Munich project has been put on hold while the city examines its legal
risks. At this time, Munich apparently remains committed to the change, but the
process will be slowed down while the lawyers do their thing. The European
Union has not, yet, adopted software patents, but software patents are
already complicating life anyway.
Given events in much of the rest of the world, Europe is about all that
stands in the way of a worldwide software patent regime. If software
patents can be stopped there, there may be a chance of, someday, reforming
the system elsewhere. If Europe falls, the job gets harder for everybody.
So the upcoming, presumably final battle over the EU patent directive is
There are signs that European governments are beginning to understand the
problem. If making the issue clearer requires a delay in a high-profile
municipal Linux deployment, it may turn out to be a price well paid.
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