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25 May 2009, 12:02

Open source businesses oppose restricted tender in Switzerland

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A group of open source companies has launched a legal action against the Swiss Federal Office for Buildings and Logistics (BBL). The agency awarded a 3-year, 42 million Swiss franc contract for licence extensions to Microsoft following a "no-bid" process for those extensions. Linux specialists Red Hat, Univention and Collax, groupware vendors Zarafa and Open-Xchange and a range of other companies which earn their living from open source software are now protesting against the award.

They have jointly filed a brief with the Swiss Federal Administration Court, requesting the FBL reverse its decisions and hold a public bidding process, in which they hope open source software and other non-Microsoft software will be given fair consideration.

Contracts can in principle be awarded directly without a tendering process, but only where there are specific reasons, for example, technical reasons, for which no suitable alternative exists. The companies behind the lawsuit argue that suitable alternatives clearly do exist in this case. Legislation requiring government procurement to treat open source software on an equal footing with proprietary software has been in place in Switzerland since 2004.


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