A consortium of European Linux companies has congratulated BT for attempting to patent hyperlink technology in an open letter published today.
The EuroLinux consortium say BT should complimented for "providing the world with a brilliant proof of the absurdity of software patents".
BT has come under considerable criticism in recent days for attempting to exploit a US patent on hyperlinks, the technology that allows users to navigate between Internet pages.
The open letter adds:
"We are impressed to learn that your company patented the principle of the hyperlink in the mid-70s when people were still wearing kipper ties and flares... Congratulations!"
This patent is only valid in America although the European Union is considering the introduction of similar legislation on patenting.
The EuroLinux consortium believes that software patenting stifles creativity and competition and is especially harmful to new companies and independent programmers.
"Recent rulings at the European Patent Office show that it is already possible to get patents for services, human actions, intellectual methods, etc. The time has come to take control of the European Patent System out of the hands of patent experts and back into the hands of the general interest," comments Jean-Paul Smets, of the EuroLinux Alliance.
The consortium counts major Linux companies including SuSE and MadrakeSoft among its members. The group's Web site contains an online petition against software patenting in Europe which it says received over 6,000 signatures in five days.
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