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Patents Red Hat Software The Almighty Buck The Courts Linux

Red Hat Paid $4.2m To Settle Patent Suit 48

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-a-lotta-CDs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'Red Hat paid $US4.2 million to settle a patent infringement suit brought against it by FireStar Software, an intellectual property activist claims. Florian Mueller, who made a name for himself during the campaign to prevent the adoption of software patents in Europe some years ago, said he had dug up a court filing that showed the payment had been made.' Mueller says the payment made by Red Hat was kept secret but news about it surfaced in another suit."
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Red Hat Paid $4.2m To Settle Patent Suit

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  • Move along, now, move along...
  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zero.kalvin (1231372)
    How is this any new news ? Companies have lawsuits, sometime they win, sometime they lose. All type of companies, whether we like them or not. So really move along now, there is nothing to see.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because Firestar sounds a little bit like Deathstar.
    • by Jiro (131519)

      If you RTFA it points out that Red Hat and Eben Moglen claimed that paying the money was compatible with the GPL, yet also told the European Commission that only royalty-free standards are compatible with the GPL. Which contradicts themselves.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        If you RTFA you'd see that it was authored by Florian Mueller and that there is nothing wrong with what happened.

        GPL says that if the settlement makes terms incompatible with the GPL, then you cannot distribute. It has nothing to do with the patent settlement terms which are unknown and/or the fact that this doesn't mean it's paying royalties on a standard.

      • If Red Hat's FAQ is correct the patent license applies to all derivative works ... so there is a royaltee free license.

        "All products distributed under a Red Hat brand are covered, as well as upstream predecessor versions of those products. In addition, derivative works of or combination products using covered products are protected from any patent claim based in any respect on the covered products."

        • If Red Hat's FAQ is correct the patent license applies to all derivative works ... so there is a royaltee free license.

          "All products distributed under a Red Hat brand are covered, as well as upstream predecessor versions of those products. In addition, derivative works of or combination products using covered products are protected from any patent claim based in any respect on the covered products."

          That's actually a pretty interesting strategy for the pro-patent people -- provide a royalty-free license for anyone distributing software under a copyleft license, but charge royalties to proprietary software makers and hardware companies. Then you get network effects from free software using it and you still get to levy a tax on Microsoft and Apple.

          • by spitzak (4019)

            It is not clear why this approach is not tried more, by legitimate patents. For instance MPEG-LA could pretty much decimate the opposition to H264 by granting a royalty-free license to any software where the source is included (or any similar method they can think of where the purpose is to clearly make distribution of the codec with a Linux distribution possible).

            It is possible they have thought of this, but would like it even better if RedHat or Canonical or somebody coughs up a ransom payment like this.

            • It is possible they have thought of this, but would like it even better if RedHat or Canonical or somebody coughs up a ransom payment like this.

              The problem there is that they only get one payment, so it's a collective action problem. RedHat doesn't want to be the only one paying and then have Canonical, Novell and everybody else benefit from it or vice versa, so they just each refuse to include H.264 in the default install so that they can't be sued over it. And if they're not infringing the patents because they don't include it, MPEG-LA can't just pick one and force them to take a license for everybody.

              Also, MPEG-LA isn't your typical patent licen

      • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @11:33AM (#35492172) Journal

        If you RTFA, you lose 1 IQ point for every minute before you realise that it's by Florian Mueller (who made a name for himself on Slashdot for repeatedly posting incorrect and inflammatory posts, and is now using an anonymous sock puppet because even the dim editors have learned to reject his posts by now).

        Only royalty-free standards are compatible with the GPL. A one-off payment by Red Hat to the patent holder for a non-revokable, sublicenseable, patent license is not. Neither is buying the patent outright and granting everyone the right to use it. The GPL prevents you from imposing any additional requirements on downstream recipients (for example, requiring them from to buy a patent license from you or a third party), but it does not prevent you from imposing conditions on yourself (for example, requiring you to buy or license all of the relevant patents and license them to everyone downstream).

        • by nomadic (141991)
          who made a name for himself on Slashdot for repeatedly posting incorrect and inflammatory posts

          Yes, because that really set him apart from the rest of the posters here in a very visible way.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Rogerborg (306625)
          Wait, Florian Mueller? Didn't he hold a young girl down in 1990 so Glenn Beck could rape and murder her? Now, I don't think he did, but if he didn't, why does he refuse to deny it? Again, I'm not accusing him of doing it, but it's a question that I'm sure many people want answered.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          If you RTFA, you lose 1 IQ point for every minute before you realise that it's by Florian Mueller....

          It took you *that* long? I didn't need to read any further than the first pargraph of the summary:

          Florian Mueller, who made a name for himself during the campaign to prevent the adoption of software patents in Europe some years ago...

          I might have an unfair advantage, however, since I used to work with him. Fortunately, it wasn't very long -- just long enough to figure out that:

          1. It's all about Florian. (Always.)

          2. If it's about Florian, it started with Florian. (Not always, but more often than not.)

      • by GooberToo (74388)

        It only contradicts if one presumes Red Hat is isolated from all other businesses on the planet. The reality is, responsible business frequently understand paying legalized extortion is frequently cheaper than a protracted legal battle forced by an extremely broken legal system.

        The simply fact is, you know your legal system is extremely broken when the rule of thumb is its cheaper to pay extortion than it is it enter the legal system to not pay said extortion.

        Pragmatically, Red Hat paying this only means th

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:34AM (#35491356) Homepage

    The people who run these big companies (not necessarily) RedHat are known for being egotistical, nasty sons of bitches. It would be nice if the response we saw more and more from them to patent trolls was "crush them, burn them, leave their wives and children in the poor house." I mean be so nasty and vindictive that even after the troll goes bankrupt, they "pierce the corporate veil" and pursue the management and their families into bankruptcy.

    • I entirely agree that corporations should be discouraged from trolling is fine, but going after individuals and their families is hardly very "nice". Justice is good, but vigilante justice is a potentially slippery slope. Having said that, if Anonymous are going to hassle people, they should hassle these fuckers from time to time too.

  • Does Red Hat own any software patents itself? Surely if it is against the idea of software patents then it would be in its interest to show the wider software community what it has been driven to (if that is how it feels)? Or was it worried that defending itself would be long and complex, and would be ashamed to admit that it gave in? Perhaps it did not want to attract too much anti-patent campaigning, as this might scare away some of its bigger clients?

    It would also be interesting to see what efforts were

    • by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:40AM (#35491438)

      Does Red Hat own any software patents itself?

      Yes. They even have a whole page [redhat.com] about patents:

      One defense against such misuse is to develop a corresponding portfolio of software patents for defensive purposes. Many software companies, both open source and proprietary, pursue this strategy. In the interests of our company and in an attempt to protect and promote the open source community, Red Hat has elected to adopt this same stance. We do so reluctantly because of the perceived inconsistency with our stance against software patents; however, prudence dictates this position.

      At the same time, Red Hat will continue to maintain its position as an open source leader and dedicated participant in open source collaboration by extending the promise set forth below.

  • by jkinney3 (535278) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:46AM (#35491512)
    RedHat settles a lawsuit and obtained the ability to continue to include code that was found to be patented by others. RedHat paid the cash and in exchange the code is now available under the GPL v.[23] with no further repercussions either upstream towards developers or downstream towards JBoss users. Did they license the code with that cash? That's not what it looks like. It looks like the cash was paid as a penalty and the legal team at RedHat made sure that was all that would ever be paid for the use of that. Did RedHat buy the license with that cash? Not sure but that is allowed in the GPL (my understanding at least. IANAL).
  • Known troll ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by janoc (699997) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @10:48AM (#35491530)
    This guy is just sensationalist troll seeking attention. Remember how he has recently claimed that he has a "proof" that Google violated Sun's copyrights in Android? It was very soundly debunked. He is just using this "secret" to attack RedHat for no reason - spin alert, guys! Not exactly a credible source to report ...
    • Nonsense. He's long been a leading figure in the fight against software patents [wikipedia.org]. Groklaw has mounted a major FUD campaign against him because he violated the Groklaw prime directive ("Thou Shalt Not Criticize IBM") and that seems to be the ultimate source of most of the negative claims against him.

      • by Xest (935314)

        Groklaw is something I've never bothered to read and it became quite apparent to me very quickly that he was in fact a troll.

        You can blame Groklaw if you want, but there's plenty of us independently minded folk who have similarly come to the same conclusion based simply on the fact that much of what he does post really is actually provably false.

        You can't blame people for not wanting to swallow FUD, and whether the Groklaw community has similarly found distaste for him is neither here nor there. Whatever he

  • Wikipedia defines royalties as "usage-based payments made by one party (the "licensee") and another (the "licensor") for ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property.". While wikipedia is not authoritive that matchs my own understanding of royalties. By their very nature royalty payments are on going.

    Thus Redhat is not paying royalties to FireStar (present tense) they have paid (past tense) money to them as a royalty-buy-out (meaning neither they, nor any downstream user, must pay royalties).

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @12:03PM (#35492610) Homepage

    Typical Florian. RedHat didn't keep the payment secret. What they redacted was the amount of the payment, not that there was a payment. I suspect it was redacted at the insistence of the other party, who didn't want any of their other victims knowing what kind of deal to shoot for themselves.

  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @12:05PM (#35492622)
    Well color me surprised. Just for fun, type "Florian Mueller Microsoft" into your search engine of choice and read some of the results from the first page. This guy pretends to be a friend of Open Source, but his actions speak otherwise. I would be ashamed, after taking money from Red Hat, to be writing articles attempting to cause them grief.
  • by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @12:26PM (#35492914) Homepage Journal
    As other have noted, Florian is now a Microsoft Shill. Yes, he made himself a name in the F/OSS community a while back; only then he later sold it to Microsoft as part of the OOXML ISO process, and has continued with Software Patents and anything else MS wants him to write about. So, take anything he says with a grain of salt at best - if you give any credence to it at all.
  • I thought Linix (as in RedHat etc) was free software. If it's free what did they use to pay the 4.2 million????? You see, as a developer of software I hate this notion that open source means free. SOMEONE pays at some point......
    • by VanessaE (970834)

      Since "free" can have more than one meaning, many folks use phrases like "FLOSS" (where the "L" stands for "libre", from the Latin for "liberty"), "Free as in freedom, not beer", or they may change the capitalization on the word "free".

      Just as citizens of certain countries consider themselves to be free, in that they are not oppressed by some regime, dictator, etc. and can move about and act more or less as they please, software can be defined in the same sense: by not being locked down by a given company

  • Did anybody else but me think about "RedHat 4.2" when you first saw this title? Another oddity: there were exactly 42 comments..

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