French industry minister rejects patents, backs Linux

Politician says all right things shock

The French government has lined up against software patents. The minister in charge of patent policy, industry secretary Christian Pierret, last week stated that he opposed them, and that they "would kill innovation and promote judicial terrorism" by multinational companies against startups.

Which seems pretty categorical to us, and also to the EuroLinux Alliance, which has happily seized the minister's in support of its anti-patent campaign. The news of France's commitment against software patents comes just two weeks after the UK lined up against them, and said it would press the European Commission for a directive on the matter.

Pierret, who made the comments in an interview with magazine 01 Informatique, seems to have made a convincing bid for Open Source pin-up status whle he was about it. "I support Linux and free software," he said, "because they allow faster and more robust development to put public administration systems online. Commercial software raises security issues, because one doesn't know what's inside it. This is why I am against software patents in Europe."

The balance may be starting to tip away from the patent lobbyists, but EuroLinux notes that the UK Patent Office and the Commission's General Directorate for Internal Market are pushing for legalisation of "patents on software with technical effect." This is, EuroLinux argues, simply a back door way of doing the very thing European politicians are starting to come out against.

Legalisation of this would legalise patents on file formats such as GIF or MP3, network protocols, and would also lead to patents on business methods. EuroLinux gives the examples of "printing cooking recipes on demand" and "managing a company through a single log file" from the European Patent Office, and says the General Directorate is trying to fool EU governments by putting forward the "software with technical effect" gag. ®

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