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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
    a little birdy in the RHAT legal dept said so (tweet now deleted)
  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Monday October 04, 2010 @06:50PM (#33789206)
    Denny Crane.

    Lock and Load.
  • Ah (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by arth1 (260657)

    "Eastern District of Texas". Need one say more?

    • Must someone make that same dumb observation every time a patent story is posted to Slashdot?

      • What's so dumb about it?
        That you don't like that texas is the best place in the US for patent trolls?

        • It's like saying there's something wrong with banks because so many bank robbers are found in banks. Trolls chose EDT for the same reason non-trolls chose EDT: (1) patent litigation is complex so you want a court system that has experience with patents, and (2) there aren't a lot of drug dealers in EDT.
          • No it's like saying that there's something wrong with a particular banks security because it's the 5th most robbed bank in the country with robbers choosing it again and again and again.

            What have drug dealers to do with anything?

  • Settlements (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday October 04, 2010 @07:04PM (#33789310)
    I really hope they didn't pay them Giving these weasels money just encourages them. I'd add the traditional "unless the patent really was valid" but I really don't think any software patents are valid.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sponge Bath (413667)
      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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bloodhawk (813939)

        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.

        I find that outcome unlikely unless red hat found something to threaten them with. For a patent troll giving someone a free license with no court results is tantamount to defeat, they either want licensing revenue or a court result giving them precident to file more suits.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          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

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        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.

  • invent foobar system for non-object non-relational data organization
    convert object data to foobar data
    convert foobar data to relational data
    fire lawyers.
    profit
  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday October 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#33789710)

    that was pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas.'"

    Enough is enough, with their cochamany legal antics and patent trolls.

    I want to add a clause to the GPL forbidding use of software in the State of Texas, until they clear this up, and boycott the state -- with all software products, so Texas will not benefit from the software or technology until they clean up their act, and stop allowing 21st-century robbers to loot the treasuries of successful technlogy firms. Who's with me???

    • 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 arth1 (260657) on Monday October 04, 2010 @11:07PM (#33791132) Homepage Journal

        The Eastern District of Texas is not the most patentee-favorable district in the country. Recent research by Mark Lemley 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.

        That fails to take into account the selection bias. The filers aren't random, but get to select where to go, so the statistics are comparing apples to oranges.

        Easter Texas attracts trolls, many of which will fail. The failure rate is higher in Eastern Texas than in, say, Oregon, because the failure risk for each individual case is lower, which attracts more trolls, many of which will fail.

        Or, to put it another way, if you know you'll win the case no matter what court you go to, you don't gain anything by going to Eastern Texas. If you're unsure, and want to maximize your chances, you do. That doesn't make it a certainty that you'll win in Eastern Texas, just more likely than if filing elsewhere. Take the same case to, say, Oregon, and the risk of losing that case is lower, despite the overall statistics is higher there. Cause the Oregon statistics isn't for patent trolls, but people who feel confident enough that they'll win even in Oregon because they actually have a case.

        • by Grond (15515)

          Or, to put it another way, if you know you'll win the case no matter what court you go to, you don't gain anything by going to Eastern Texas.

          But, as I explained, that's not true. There are lots of advantages to Texas Eastern that apply to all kinds of patentees (e.g., the docket moves quickly and the judges are experienced).

          For example, Ericsson [ericsson.com] and LG recently filed suits in Texas Eastern, and they're hardly examples of trolls.

          Anyway, the courts have gotten wise to the abuse of venues like Texas Eastern b

          • Not normally being a troll doesn't mean you aren't engaging in frivolous patent suits, and having other advantages doesn't mean that they aren't choosing it primarily because of how they generally side in patent cases.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ToasterMonkey (467067)

      I want to add a clause to the GPL forbidding use of software in the State of Texas, until they clear this up, and boycott the state -- with all software products, so Texas will not benefit from the software or technology until they clean up their act, and stop allowing 21st-century robbers to loot the treasuries of successful technlogy firms. Who's with me???

      Punish the whole of Texas because you dislike something happening in east Texas?

      How about we boycott California because some asshole put ice in his snowballs.

      Boycott New York because a bear attacked my uncle?

      Sorry, uhh.. roll the music!

      • by mysidia (191772)

        Punish the whole of Texas because you dislike something happening in east Texas?

        The point is not to punish Texas really, there is some collateral damage (which could also provide some pressure for residents there to reform or address the issue with the court), but the point is to avoid personal jurisdiction [wikipedia.org] within the district court located in the state of Texas.

        A consequence of not distributing to or conducting business with anyone in the state of Texas, is the court lacks jurisdiction, therefore, ma

    • I want to add a clause to the GPL forbidding use of software in the State of Texas

      The GPL doesn't allow that.

      • by mysidia (191772)

        The GPL doesn't allow that.

        The GPL has a clause that specifically does allow geographic restrictions to be added, if distribution and/or use of the program is restricted by patents or copyright interfaces.

        This is not a problem. Invariably, something in the program will be patented in the US, protected by an "invalid" patent on obvious methods.

    • by 3vi1 (544505)

      >> I want to add a clause to the GPL forbidding use of software in the State of Texas

      So, people like me who contribute to GPL software no longer get to help the cause. id Software, and a ton of other tech companies, will no longer supports Linux since they're headquartered in Texas. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Texans who are paying Microsoft for everything don't even notice.

      Great plan. Ever think about getting the patent system changed instead?

      • by mysidia (191772)

        So, people like me who contribute to GPL software no longer get to help the cause.

        Since the GPL cannot govern use of the software, or prevent you from transporting your copy of it you already have access to across state lines (as long as you are not redistributing it in doing so), you can still obtain and work on the software.

        You just may need to take your laptop to a different state, download the source code, work on it.... travel out of state, upload, etc, etc...

  • by syousef (465911) on Monday October 04, 2010 @08:07PM (#33789866) Journal

    How many clear cases of stifled innovation do we need before we have a major overhaul of copyright? Western government is traditionally quite good about their public attitude to corruption. However, if there's one area of corruption that is visible to Joe average and rampant it's IP law. You can't even make a toy model of a real aircraft or car without paying royalties. (As if this is what the manufacturer's first motivation is. What a joke!). Music and film royalties predominately go to middle men and both industries whine on and on about lost profit. Now we have a situation where coming up with a new idea isn't lucrative because you might just step into some obscure patent.It's become a game of which company can sue the other into oblivion. How is that suppose to encourage invention and innovation? Is it any wonder the western world's going backwards in these areas?

    • by Grond (15515)

      How many clear cases of stifled innovation do we need before we have a major overhaul of copyright?

      This was a patent case, not a copyright case. The two have very little to do with each other.

      • by syousef (465911)

        How many clear cases of stifled innovation do we need before we have a major overhaul of copyright?

        This was a patent case, not a copyright case. The two have very little to do with each other.

        If you bother to read further I address patents too. Don't let that stop you from swooping down and labeling the whole post as trash though. Excellent troll.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          Where does he do that? Literally the only thing he said was: "This was a patent case, not a copyright case. The two have very little to do with each other.", which certainly seems to me to be an entirely factually correct (and rather polite by slashdot standards) correction.

          • by shentino (1139071)

            Correct if the issue at hand is hair splitting over what's really the issue.

            Intellectual property being used as a weapon.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Corporations still abuse them up the wazoo to stamp out competition from small fry that are too broke to defend themselves against a lawsuit.

        It's just another weapon in SLAPP.

  • Connect this with Red Hat's recent statement to the U.S. Patent Office [redhat.com] telling them to stop granting software patents, although the result in the Bilski case gives them no reason to do so.

    Red Hat lost. They caved and paid for their own license, and everybody else has to negotiate separately.

    It was obvious that if Acacia went after them again, they would not do so in a way that would allow the same outcome as their first case.

    The sad thing about this is the way Red Hat has screwed the Open Source develope

    • by hweimer (709734) on Monday October 04, 2010 @09:39PM (#33790550) Homepage

      Red Hat lost. They caved and paid for their own license, and everybody else has to negotiate separately.

      Are you sure about that? JBoss is LGPL2.1, which contains a "liberty-or-death" clause regarding software patents. If someone got sued over distributing JBoss because of this patent, they could trivially go after Red Hat. I somehow doubt that this is the case here.

      • 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 hweimer (709734)

          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.

          From looking at the code it seems that Red Hat does not hold the copyright to all parts of it. So you basically claim that Red Hat knowingly violates the copyright of others for fending of a patent suit? That's quite a strong statement, and I'd rather see proof for that.

          If I was to speculate about the reason behind Red Hat's silence on the issue, I would assume that the settlement contains some NDA, so that people like you can do Acacia a favor and spread the FUD around.

          • Yes, obviously the case is sealed. But that means that Red Hat accepted the seal as one of the terms of the settlement.

    • by int69h (60728) on Monday October 04, 2010 @10:19PM (#33790814)

      Why exactly should Red Hat be the ones forced to stick their neck out? It would be nice if they did, but they are under no obligation to do so and haven't "screwed" anyone. Perhaps you've forgotten that Red Hat is a huge contributor to the community in the form of code, unlike certain other popular distributions. They made their money on the backs of their employees.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872)

        Well, they're the guys making the money. That's the main reason why.

        Much as Red Hat has sponsored employees who make copious code contributions, they are not by any means more than a fractional developer of the system they vend. Even in the case of the kernel, one of the projects in which they participate most, they are only about a 15% contributor (11.8% for 2.6.35, similar numbers for each kernel version). It is very clear that Red Hat mostly benefits from outside developers.

        The community, unfortunately

        • by int69h (60728) on Monday October 04, 2010 @11:14PM (#33791182)

          For the sake of comparison, here's some other companies making money off the Linux kernel that could easily fund the lobbying and publicity efforts: Google 1.2%, Nokia 2.5%, IBM 2.9%, and many others whose contributions were too small to measure, although I'm pretty sure it will be a cold day in hell before IBM lobbies to abolish software patents.

          http://lwn.net/Articles/395961/

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Bruce Perens (3872)

            The difference between these folks and Red Hat is that their business is not based on Open Source software entirely. Red Hat's is. And thus, I think there is little doubt that Red Hat should do what is right for Open Source. That said, I wish those folks would help us too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pieterh (196118)

        Here's the thing... Red Hat have long claimed to be against software patents and claim a special position when it comes to the business of open source. Yet they have a fairly significant portfolio of software patents, and of business method patents, both in the US and in Europe. Their business method patents tend to cover software distribution and support, thus they are aimed at potential rivals. Definitely not 'defensive'.

        Red Hat will happily claim patents on standards they are participating in, as they

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233)

      They refused to stick their neck out by lobbying aggressively for an end to software patenting, both in the industry and with government.

      With the greatest possible respect Bruce, how on earth do they do that successfully instead of just generating a lot of noise? Hitting your head against a solid wall may impress others but it does not bring the wall down.

      • The "popular wisdom" is so confident that we'd fail that nobody with the money to back up the project has tried. This is self-defeating behavior.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          Bruce I suspect you answered the wrong question there so I'll repeat it another way:
          How can they lobby in such a way that they can change anything?
          Making noise is not enough, it has to be noise that is listened to.
          Personally I see software patents as an abomination that will drive software development out of countries with such stupid IP laws (ie. job losses), let alone the other problems which legislators won't even attempt to understand. I know that, you know that, RedHat knows that, but there's no point
          • We convinced you that software patents are a problem. How did we do that? We presented evidence, and political discussion, and stories told by the people whose businesses were injured, etc.

            Some of us understand how to tell that story to people who aren't in Slashdot's demographics. I could do it, if I had the support to do so, and Red Hat could do it with any number of evangelists other than me. But this is not something I can do out of my pocket.

            • Who do you convince and how do you do it?
              That is the question I am trying to ask here.
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Bruce Perens (3872)
                The proprietary computer software development companies (yes, we need to treat them as partners). The large software customer companies (they are already our users, but through intermediaries like Red Hat so they don't know us). The press (because they help spread the message). The technically savvy electorate. Politicians. Judges.
  • attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source

    Thanks, I want to throw up now.

  • A lot of people seem to be overlooking something. Software Tree Inc is an established company that has been selling products based on their patent for a long time. Software Tree LLC is a subsidiary of Acacia that is handling licensing and enforcement of Software Tree's patent for Software Tree. Sure, Acacia also does patent troll cases (acquiring patents that aren't being used and then suing people), but that's not all they do.

    One may argue that there should not be software patents in the first place, but g

  • Ended!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ysth (1368415)
    You don't "end" a patent threat by settling. Ever.
  • 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.
    • by Pastis (145655)

      This sounded like one of the most interesting comment in that thread. It's probably too late...

      Feel free to contact LWN.net (they might probably write something on the topic).

    • But did you publish? Either paper or code. It's not prior art if it's a trade secret.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by woboyle (1044168)
        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 i
        • by woboyle (1044168)
          FWIW, wouldn't the Java Hibernate framework be considered prior art? That has certainly been published.
  • Acacia's patent examiner never looked at the Object View Broker technology from 1994. That in turn was based on an object-oriented semantic modeling tool called Open Books, released by Open Books, Inc, in Cambridge, MA around 1990. That was written in C and released for the OS/2 platform. It wasn't successful in the market because it came out much too early, but it was a brilliant piece of technology that most prospects didn't understand at that time. And Open Books itself was based on the Camps Planning A

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