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Red Hat Settles Patent Case 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-it-go-away dept.
darthcamaro writes "Red Hat has settled another patent case with patent holding firm Acacia. This time the patent is US Patent #6,163,776, 'System and method for exchanging data and commands between an object oriented system and relational system.' While it's great that Red Hat has ended this particular patent threat, it's not yet clear how they've settled this case. The last time Red Hat tangled with Acacia they won in an Texas jury trial. 'Red Hat routinely addresses attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source via allegations of patent infringement,' Red Hat said in a statement. 'We can confirm that Red Hat, Inc and Software Tree LLC have settled patent litigation that was pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas.'"
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Red Hat Settles Patent Case

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  • they caved and paid (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2010 @06:47PM (#33789184)
    a little birdy in the RHAT legal dept said so (tweet now deleted)
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday October 04, 2010 @07:33PM (#33789584) Homepage Journal
    But given that the case settled, there's little chance those judges had much to do with it. Also, the reputation is that the court is extremely plaintiff-favorable - so it would not simply be that the judges are well versed in patent law. The implication is prejudice.
  • by Grond (15515) on Monday October 04, 2010 @09:32PM (#33790512) Homepage

    The Eastern District of Texas is not the most patentee-favorable district in the country. Recent research by Mark Lemley [ssrn.com] found that it had the 6th highest patentee win rate of districts with a significant number of patent infringement cases. The Northern District of Texas, Middle District of Florida, District of Nevada, District of Delaware, and District of Oregon are all more favorable to the patentee.

    The Texas Eastern patentee win rate was 40.3%, compared to a high of 55.1% in Texas Northern. The lowest rate was Georgia Northern at 11.5%. There's a wide range in win rates, and the rates are affected by a lot of factors.

    Furthermore, blaming the Eastern District of Texas is a tremendous case of confusing correlation with causation. Litigants select Texas Eastern for a lot of reasons. For example, it's a fairly fast docket (though not the fastest), and the judges are experienced and have a reputation for not suffering fools gladly. Further, while the Federal Circuit controls patent law, there are lots of other issues that are based on 5th Circuit law, which may be attractive for various reasons.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday October 04, 2010 @09:43PM (#33790590) Homepage Journal

    Red Hat, as the copyright holder, is not held to the license terms regarding their own software. If they are not the copyright holder of a substantial part of jBoss, another copyright holder could sue them.

    One would think that a feature of a commercial jBoss license is indemnification. Users under the Open Source license are on their own.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday October 04, 2010 @10:43PM (#33790968) Homepage

    But given that the case settled, there's little chance those judges had much to do with it. Also, the reputation is that the court is extremely plaintiff-favorable - so it would not simply be that the judges are well versed in patent law. The implication is prejudice.

    The judge had plenty to do with it. A lot happens involving the judge before an actual trial occurs. In particular, the parties argue claims construction, and then the judge rules on the meaning of the claims. That ruling came down on June 1, 2010 in this case. You can get a copy of that ruling here [justia.com] if you are curious.

    The claims construction ruling can be a major turning point in a patent case, as that is when the parties find out what they are actually dealing with. Cases can be won or lost on claims construction.

    As for prejudice, the fact is that EDT isn't even in the top 5 [patentlyo.com] districts when it comes to favoring plaintiffs.

  • Re:Settlements (Score:3, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday October 04, 2010 @11:04PM (#33791106) Homepage

    Probably Red Hat gets a perpetual free license and Acacia does not get their patent tested so they can pursue targets with fewer resources to protect themselves.

    Nope. If for some reason Software Tree thought that Red Hat would be able to get the patent invalidated, Software Tree would simply withdraw the suit. There would not be any kind of settlement.

    Consider the fact that IBM has licensed this patent from Software Tree, and Oracle has settled last year when Software Tree sued them, and it is much more likely Red Hat decided that either they would not win, or the cost of litigation would be more than the cost of a license.

  • by woboyle (1044168) on Monday October 04, 2010 @11:49PM (#33791354)
    If Red Hat were to need someone to provide expert testimony for prior art in interfacing OO systems to relational systems, I developed such a method in SmallTalk and delivered in C++ in the early to mid 90's. This software is currently running the majority of semiconductor fabs world-wide and the technology is owned by Applied Materials - a company that would likely defend themselves vigorously against a suit by these boneheads.
  • Re:Settlements (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @05:53AM (#33792582) Journal

    I find that outcome unlikely unless red hat found something to threaten them with

    I just glanced at the patent and it looks like NeXT's Enterprise Object Framework (now owned by Apple and distributed with the XCode tools as part of the WebObjects optional install) implements precisely what the patent describes and did it about a decade before the patent was filed. EOF, in turn, was heavily inspired by stuff that Gemstone was doing in the '80s, based on earlier research at (as I recall) PARC.

    There is absolutely no way that the patent should have been granted. It describes a technique that had been used in large deployments for over a decade before the patent was filed.

    Unless you're a Ruby on Rails programmer, of course, and then it's stuff that's really new and shiny and exciting and has never been done before.

  • by woboyle (1044168) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @11:57AM (#33795158)
    Published indeed - I contributed a chapter that contained information about this in the Wiley graduate level text book "Domain-Specific Application Frameworks" published in 2000. Also, the original design and development was part of the effort to build FACTORYworks, an enterprise MES that was designed by a consortium of major semiconductor vendors comprised of members of Sematech, the international semiconductor trade and technology organization. Chaired by FASTech Integration, members of the design group included Intel, Samsung, FASTech, Motorola, etc. This subject, mapping classes of objects to relational tables and all the associated technology was covered in general detail on pages 132-137 in the section "Persistence Classes".

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