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Red Hat Software Businesses Linux Business Patents Your Rights Online

Red Hat Makes a GPL-Compatible Patent Deal 59

Posted by timothy
from the step-one-agree-that-the-gpl-is-about-copyright dept.
Bruce Perens writes "Red Hat has settled patent suits with Firestar Software, Inc., Amphion, and Datatern on a patent covering the Object-Relational Database Model, which those companies asserted was used in the jBoss Hibernate package — not in Red Hat Linux. The settlement is said to protect upstream developers and derivative works of the upstream software, thus protecting the overall Open Source community. Full terms of the settlement and patent licenses are not available at this time."
Reader Koohoolinn adds a link to RedHat's own report of the settlement and adds that the deal "is GPLv2 and even GPLv3-compatible." Koohoolinn also points out commentary on Groklaw that this deal "means that those who claim the GPL isolates itself from standards bodies' IP pledges are wrong. It is possible to come up with language that satisfies the GPL and still acknowledges patents, and this is the proof. That means Microsoft could do it for OOXML if it wanted to. So who is isolating whom?"
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Red Hat Makes a GPL-Compatible Patent Deal

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  • Not hard (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @01:33PM (#23767987)
    License the patent to all software that is licensed under GPLv2 or latter, problem solved. The GPLv3 doesn't actually ban you from patenting anything, it just says that if you implement those patents in a GPLv3 covered work, you must grant downstream developers the right to implement those patents in their modified versions of the software. Similarly the paragraph which demands you do not sign certain types of patent deals only applies to deals which gives protection to only a subset of the receivers of derivative works. Nothing stops you from making such a deal which provides a license to anybody who uses a GPL compatible license for works that implement it.
  • NeXT EOF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by chochos (700687) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @01:54PM (#23768339) Homepage Journal
    I guess Apple could have just jumped in and showed prior art with the Enterprise Objects Framework they got from NeXT; it's the oldest ORM I've seen (and used). Version 1.0 came out in 1994. They ported it to Java when they ported WebObjects in 2001. Cayenne is an open source implementation very similar to the original. Surely Apple has some patents on those stuff, or they could have just showed prior art, I mean, how old are the patents from these companies that RedHat paid off?
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @01:58PM (#23768393) Homepage Journal
    In other words the settlement details are rarely every made public in these kinds of situations. What they have announced is that the settlement grants a royalty-free patent license to all upstream and downstream developers, distributors and users.
  • by eparis (1289526) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:00PM (#23768415)
    Obviously I am not a lawyer but the way I read it many people other than Red Hat are protected, but not quite all. If you develop your own project completely from scratch and you are violating this patent (which may or may not be dubious, RH never admitted to violating it or that it was legit) you are on your own. The licence of your wholely new and unrelated project is irrelevant. If you go and get your project accepted into Fedora (pretty easy task) you are then covered since Fedora is a RH brand. Now your upstream code from the Fedora project (and any predecessor code created before you got accepted into Fedora) is now covered by this licence so other distros or projects can take your work use, modify, and distribute it just like any GPL code and are legal. It seems from my reading of all the press over the last 2 days and the RH FAQs like the only condition that needs to be met is that code which makes use of this 'patent' exist in a Red Hat brand. If it exists, existed, or will exist, in Fedora everybody is covered. This is a great thing for RH to do to support all of us who use a RH supported distro or some other distro.
  • by rs232 (849320) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @02:01PM (#23768435)
    "Are you sure this protects anyone other than Red Hat, Inc.?"

    "Upstream developers receive a perpetual, fully paid-up, royalty-free, irrevocable worldwide license to the patents in suit"

    "All products distributed under a Red Hat brand are covered .. In addition, derivative works [redhat.com] .. are protected"
  • Re:Legitimacy? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Thursday June 12, 2008 @07:58PM (#23772931) Homepage

    Here. [uspto.gov] You make it sound like patents are a big secret or something.

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