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Linux Business Open Source Patents Red Hat Software The Courts Linux

Red Hat Fights Patent Troll With GPL 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the mightier-than-the-sword dept.
jfruh writes "Red Hat is in the middle of a patent lawsuit with Twin Peaks Software, which claims that a Red Hat subsidiary is abusing a Twin Peaks filesystem lawsuit. Now, Red Hat is launching an intriguing countermeasure: the company claims that Twin Peaks' own closed source software violates the GPL because it makes use of an open source disk utility that Red Hat holds the copyright on. Is this a smart move on Red Hat's part?"
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Red Hat Fights Patent Troll With GPL

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  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:16PM (#41338609)
    Doesn't seem to be a Patent Troll if the company has a product. Trolls are generally Non Practicing Entities. Are we going to start calling Apple, Google, and Microsoft patent trolls now?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:22PM (#41338671)

    Laugh all you want, but RMS keeps getting proved right over and over about Free Software.

  • by bwcbwc (601780) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:27PM (#41338727)

    In selected cases where the patent is obvious or duplicated by prior art, yes a lawsuit is still trolling even if you actually make use of the invention..

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gomiam (587421) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:36PM (#41338833)
    I guess the judge would usually consent, in that case, to reveal the code to experts under condition of secrecy. That way, the experts would be able to check whether the copyright allegations have any base and the code, should it not be infringing, would still stay closed.

    Even if the code was considered infringing, it would only need to be revealed to those customers that asked for it before three years (since the ruling in this case?) have passed. Unless one of those customer asks for it and decides to publish it, the code would still be unavailable.

  • May infringe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mordocai (1353301) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:42PM (#41338895) Homepage
    Doing some VERY basic binary comparison between their mount.mfs binary and one of Redhat's mount binaries I would say there is nothing that says straight out one way or the other. There were definitely some differences (licensing crap all through twin peak's binary for instance, trying to catch if you run it and have no license) and some similarities, but it isn't enough for me personally to say for sure. I'd be going after looking at TwinPeak's source, but that's probably what they'll end up doing anyway.
  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:44PM (#41338915)

    Traditionally speaking, a patent troll was an NPE. I HATE rephrasings of meanings, which lead to the exact same 100 comment threads about the following issues:

    1) Open Source vs. open source
    2) Free vs. free vs. libre vs. beer vs. freedom
    3) Stealing vs. Copyright infringement
    4) Patent Troll vs. patent troll

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @02:55PM (#41339063)

    if you do not use or license your patents within the first year of aquiring a patent then the patent is no longer valid. PERIOD! Having worked in the patent office and see all the patent holding companies that just sit on patents to sue people, it is time we ended this. Call it the use it or lose it law.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:13PM (#41339243)

    That is wrong on so many ways.

    - most of the time it takes years before the usefullness of an invention is appreciated
    - software being an exception but mosts inventions take more than one year to copy and bring to market
    - You can't license if nobody comes and wants to license your patent.
    - interested companies would just have to collude and hold still for one year to invalidate patents from small scale inventors who can't bring it to market alone

  • Re:Clause 8? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:34PM (#41339477) Homepage

    It's a little more sticky for Twin Peaks than that. The geographic limitation would prevent them from distributing their software under GPL anywhere where they assert a patent right. So to comply they would have to grant a royalty free license to all (including Red Hat) OR just never sell the product again.

    They would at least have to review their codebase and carefully purge all signs of GPL code to get back in business, but would still have to settle the past infringement.

    Typically in GPL violations, the infringer is given the opportunity to cure the infringement without going to court, but then there isn't usually a patent suit in play.

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