Linux kernel maintainer joins patent celebrations

Summary:Alan Cox has hailed the European Parliament for asking for a rethink of the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, but warns that "the battle isn't over"

Alan Cox, one of the leading lights of the UK Linux scene, was among those celebrating on Thursday after the European Parliament demanded a total rethink of the software patent directive.

On Wednesday the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted 19 to one, with one abstention, in favour of a motion asking the European Commission to rewrite the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive.

Alan Cox, sometime maintainer of the Linux kernel and well-known open source advocate, said on Thursday that he was pleased with the news and thanked Poland for its role in delaying the EU Council from ratifying the proposed directive.

"I'm delighted that through JURI the Parliament has made this decision, and enormously grateful to Poland for its stand for democracy and the interests of the hundreds of thousands of small business people this proposal threatened," said Cox.

Debian developer Wookey, who had expressed concerns over the way the directive was handled by the British government, was also pleased that the EP has stopped the EU Council from rushing the law through.

"This is a very encouraging sign," said Wookey. "The European Parliament is taking account of the huge public concern about this directive and has shown that the Council's attempt to force through an uncompromising pro-software-patent directive is not the way to reach a sensible consensus in this vitally important area of law."

One concern raised by campaigners was that the directive could stifle small software businesses, who do not have the same legal or financial resources as large firms. Chandran Honour, the managing director of software company Altrunet, said that JURI's actions are good news for small software companies such as his.

"I think the patent system works in favour of larger corporates or venture-funded start-ups, due to the high cost of acquiring patents," said Honour. "The restart is good news for small innovative companies looking to penetrate new markets without the threat of patent challenges from their corporate cousins."

Gary Barnett, a research director at analyst firm Ovum, said he is not against software patents, but believes the EU must formulate a law that includes tests to see how inventive an idea actually is. He said that many software patents that have been passed, such as one-click shopping, would not pass such a test.

"Great news, absolutely fantastic news on the patent front," said Barnett. "I'm pleasantly surprised -- I had the impression that politicians from the UK and so on were trying to push this through no matter what."

Topics: Government : UK

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