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Red Hat Fights Patent Troll With GPL 98

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 awkScooby ( 741257 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:10PM (#41338517)
    It's a patent RedHat is accused of "abusing".
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:18PM (#41338635) Homepage


    A troll is a parasite extracting payment for something that isn't really his.

  • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:33PM (#41338801)
    No, Troll is not a generic name for an evil company. A Troll is a company whose primary source of income is patent lawsuits. This company doesn't fit that discription. It has another source of income that can be sued. You can't fight a patent Troll with GPL because a patent Troll doesn't have a product that uses GPL. A true patent Troll is just a P.O. Box and a lawyer.
  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:45PM (#41338925) Journal

    The GPL code in question is only to make the filesystem available to the operating system and is part of the code that constitutes the patented filesystem in question. It is basically mount instructions to put it as simply as possible. Twin Peaks could rewrite their own implementation of this avoiding the GPL problems if they have the expertise to do so.

    The real significance here might be that because the two are related but not the same, an award for one could be equal to an award for the other meaning either company is out only the amount of lawyer fees in the end. This less then zero sum gain potential could very well be the cornerstone to working some sort of deal out. This could work out to some agreement where in exchange for open sourcing the file system, Red Hat agrees to pay a royalty from it's enterprise implementations of the filesystem and works with twin peaks to develop a revenue stream from the open source uses of the filesystems (support and development).

    I can't find any gpl version on the mount.mfs program that is supposed to be embedded within the filesystem but if it is GPLv3, their defense to the copyright claim could hurt their patent claim in the process because of the patent provisions. Of course that could lead to the same old FUD claims of the GPL poisoning and stealing code and so on. With windows 8 comming about and renewed talk of linux on the desktop, I have been waiting on something like this to come along and shoot the linux troops in the foot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @03:54PM (#41339053)

    "Patent troll is a pejorative term used for a person or company who enforces patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered aggressive or opportunistic with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention.[1]"

    1 Alexander Poltorak. "On 'Patent Trolls' and Injunctive Relief".,, May 12, 2006


    Sorry, you were saying something?

  • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @04:06PM (#41339169)
    SCO wasn't a patent troll by any reasonable definition of the term. This is not because they had a product for sale, but because they didn't sue over patents.
  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:4, Informative)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @06:17PM (#41340939)

    This is brilliant! Just accuse them of a GPL violation and they'll be forced to prove their source code is different by revealing it.

    Nobody can force you to release any source code, GPL or not. However, copying source code against GPL rules when the GPL license is the only thing that gives you permission, is plain old copyright infringement. And since this company just badly upset the copyright holder, they will have to pay for this.

  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Friday September 14, 2012 @06:39PM (#41341231) Journal

    No, the GPL doesn't work like this. Having violated the GPL on this code, Twin Peaks are no longer licensed. They cannot reacquire a license simply by coming back into compliance. They need to explicitly be relicensed by the copyright holder (Red Hat), who are not likely to do so in this case.

    It has been the norm for the resolution of GPL violations that the violator comes back into compliance and then is relicensed, because Free Software organizations are generally more interested in cooperation than conflict, but there is no legal requirement for Red Hat to follow this norm.

    You can read the GPL here: [] []

  • by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Saturday September 15, 2012 @02:51AM (#41344249) Homepage Journal

    Both A and B include the clause "on a medium customarily used for software interchange".

FORTRAN is the language of Powerful Computers. -- Steven Feiner