The Munich city administration has said that it expects its planned migration to Linux to be delayed by only a few weeks to examine the impact of proposed European Union software patenting legislation.
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Bernd Plank, a spokesman for Munich town hall, said he expected that the administration would take a maximum of two to three weeks to decide whether the EU's directive on software patents could affect the city's plan to switch to Linux. There would be no dramatic setback, he added.
The fact that the legislation is still being negotiated by EU member states and the European Parliament would not mean that the move to Linux would be put on hold, Plank said.
"Even if we can't say what the impact would be, that would still be a sufficient answer to give the city council," he said.
Munich's administration has been asked by members of the city council to determine if the proposed European legislation, known as the "computer-implemented inventions" directive, might cause legal problems for the city when it comes into force.
The city administration confirmed it was standing by Linux, denying reports that the project had been put on ice. Mayor Christian Ude said 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 and 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.
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.
The decision to ask the city administration to examine the effects of the software directive on the move to Linux has been driven by Green Party councillor Jens Muelhaus. The policitician has warned that the shift to open source software could infringe up to 50 patents, based on a study carried out by the Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure.
EU ministers reached agreement in May on the directive. They are expected to formally endorse the text in September.
The ministers commented at the time that the agreed text contains provisions in accordance with the practice developed within the European Patent Organisation, for patentability of computer-implemented inventions, stipulating that a computer program as such cannot constitute a patentable invention.
Simon Taylor writes for IDG News Service
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