Open Source Advocacy: from hecklers to lobbyists (part II)

Few months ago I wrote about the need of open source lobbyists, just after Dana Blankenhorn post, and I eventually ended reporting Florian Mueller and Simon Phipps opinions around software patents war.

Florian Mueller, “No lobbyists as such” author and founder of the campaign, has recently announced to take his blog offline in about a month, because he retired from the patent policy debate, and I took the chance to ask Florian two more questions.

Talking about the role of interoperability, you wrote me that also Google played a role, so which is their position, in your opinion?

As for Google, I’m quite sure there are lots of people inside Google (well, even inside Microsoft) who are anti-swpat personally but the company position isn’t really clear. The only thing they really cared about in the final days before the EP’s 2nd reading vote 2 years ago was interoperability, just so they can continue to analyze PDF documents without infringing Adobe’s related patents etc.

Are you about to leave for good the patent policy debate? Why?

I still care about the software patent issue and a competitive software market, and I believe that my long-standing concerns over their impact have been validated by Microsoft’s Novell-type deals and its announcement to collect royalties from FOSS users. But after my recent and successful project to defend certain strategic interests of Real Madrid in the context of the EU’s ongoing sports policy initiative, I’m at least ten times more likely to take on another football-related assignment than to get involved with patent policy again.

I just don’t see that companies with an interest in fighting software patents would make the level of resources available that I would consider to be a reasonable basis. In other fields that’s a lot less of a problem, if any. That’s just a market reality.

Florian Mueller
Florian Mueller by duncandavidson

In Europe we are still facing very talented lobbyists working hard on this controversial political issue, and despite patentability of computer-implemented inventions is not yet legal in Europe, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Interoperability matters, but software patents do matter even more: the file format war is not the ICT market panacea. I invite medium to large IT European companies to think about it, and invest money to lobby. Now.

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