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Munich Going Forward with Linux
Wednesday, August 11 2004 @ 09:48 AM EDT

Heise is reporting that Munich's mayor has held a press conference, in which he said that the bidding process for the switch from Windows to Linux will go forward as originally planned, despite patent issues. Thanks to Matthias for spotting this first.

Mayor Ude, who said he's been thinking it over for a few days, says there will be a legal study completed by Autumn concerning the migration, and if it looks safe, they will go forward and meanwhile the bidding begins. Munich, he said, wants to stay with its commitment to Linux. He also announced that the city is going to request a legal study on the question of what consequences the EU-directive on the patentability of "computer-implemented inventions" will have in the current version of the Council of Ministers's proposed law.

A translator is at work, and I'll have more for you later.

As promised, here is the meat of it, translated by tglx:

"Despite legal ambiguity and continuous fears of a patent war around open source, Munich's Mayor Christian Ude wants to start the bidding procedure for the replacement of the desktop OS in the city administration. Ude announced this at a press conference in the city hall. The LiMux project goes into the active migration phase. A survey of the patent issue will be finished by autumn. If the conversion to Linux appears then harmless, the bidding can be started. The city wants to stay with its commitment to Linux without fail: "It's irreversible that the city of Munich has decided in favour of open source."

"Ude announced that the city will award a contract for a legal opinion to clarify the question of which effects the disputed European Union guideline to the patenting of "computer-implemented inventions" in its present version of the Council of Ministers could have. Ude requested information from the Federal Government, why they voted in Brussels against the directive which was given by the European parliament. This directive was clearly against the broad software patent legalization and was accepted by the Federal Government before the final decision in the European Council of Ministers. If the Federal Government in Berlin wants to support open source projects, as emphasized by the Federal Department of Justice last week, they must provide legal security for the public and private efforts. Furthermore Ude requested other cities, municipalities and authorities, which work on Linux migrations, to join and support Munich in its efforts to clarify the legal situation. The argumenets and the demands on the Federal Government have been submitted in written form by the city of Munich.

". . . . In a strong reaction to the interruption of the project, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and LinuxTag e.V. warned at the beginning of the week against the abuse of software patents 'for psychological warfare' in the economy. 'Mechanisms from the Cold War are now adapted to protect the interests of companies', said Olive Zendel, chairman of LinuxTag. 'The principle of nuclear deterrence is replaced by patent armament, where companies arrange non-aggression pacts by cross licencing of the patents. The one who suffer are the programmers, small and medium-size enterprises and thus the economic situation in Europe.'"

He also provides us a link to the official statement, in German, of course, and a translation of important bits:

1. Munich continues
Munich continues to work on the LiMux project

2. Munich requests clarifying
Legal opinion is requested to clarify the difference between the software patent decisions of the European Parliament and the European Council of Ministers.

Munich requests a clear and unambiguous wording of the terms concerning the software patents.

Munich requests an answer from the Federal Government why the change of the European Parliment decision is necessary at all and why the Ministery of Justice claims that the new decision of the European Council of Ministers is not affecting the Open Source community and small/mid sized companies. If there is no difference to the decision of the European Parliament, then the Government should explain why a change of this decision is necessary at all.

Munich requests legal security for public and private investments

3. Munich seeks support

Munich asks the affected cities, ministeries and companies to support its claims and efforts.

Infoworld also has some details:

"In a press statement issued on August 4, the city administration confirmed it was 'standing by Linux,' correcting press reports that the project had been put on ice. Mayor Christian Ude stated that his administration's IT experts had recently presented 'strategic outlines' of the Linux project to officials from Augsburg and Nuernberg. Ude noted that there was 'interest in Munich's open source solution' from these German cities as well as from Vienna.

"Ude confirmed that the call for tenders for the base client had been temporarily delayed to examine the technical and legal risks presented by the draft software patents directive which, he said, provided for large scale patenting of software.

"All European local administrations and companies that are interested in open source software should work to ensure that the planned legislation does not become EU law, Ude said. In this sense, he is in complete agreement with the decision of the European Parliament to restrict the scope of the directive."

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