Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?
If you’re interested in the intersection of technology, government, standards and open source software, you really want to be paying close attention to Europe these days. That’s because the EU is where all of the really interesting, high-level IT policy action is.
Yes, there are some important things happening in China, but Chinese policy is very narrowly targeted towards achieving industry-specific economic goals. And yes, isolated initiatives and skirmishes pop up in the U.S. from time to time, much to the bewilderment of most legislators. But it’s in the EU where you find by far and away the greatest sophistication on the part of policy makers, and the most extensive grass-roots engagement by citizen groups.
Now, the EIF is a very interesting document, with a long history (you can read more about it here). It’s been around for awhile in version 1.0, and the direction that its next version would take has been hotly debated by large software companies.
At issue, as you might have already guessed, is what EIF does, and does not, say about patents, and more specifically, patents in the context of interoperability standards. Why does it matter? Because the EIF is part of a master plan that will influence how the EU ultimately spends up to the equivalent of $50 billion a year in public IT procurement funds.
The development of common standards is essential. Today innovation cycles have become much shorter than the time it often takes to develop a European standard. These deficiencies have wide ramifications for the EU’s position in global markets. The Commission will present by early 2011 a legislative proposal on standardisation. Its aim is to speed up standard-setting to enable interoperability and foster innovation in fast-moving global markets.