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Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3
Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 07:42 PM EDT

You've probably been wondering why I've been quiet, when there is news about a patent settlement between Red Hat and Firestar and DataTern in the JBoss litigation. It's because I wanted to be positive I was correct that this is the first known settlement involving patents that is harmonious with GPLv3. It is.

It's also harmonious with GPLv2, of course, but this is history in the making, friends. They settled a lawsuit brought against them in a way that licenses patents without violating the GPL. I'll show you how, but first, so you know I'm not just dreaming, here's the answer I got from Richard Fontana, Open Source Licensing and Patent Counsel, Red Hat, to my question about whether this is the first known GPLv3 patent agreement that works:

Most patent settlements and similar agreements are confidential, but to my knowledge this is the first patent settlement that satisfies the requirements of GPL version 3. Indeed, it really goes further than GPLv3 in the degree to which upstream and downstream parties receive safety from the patents at issue here. (And this is not a case of trying to find a loophole in the GPL, but rather a desire on our part to reach an agreement that provided broad patent protection for developers, distributors and users, while complying fully with the conditions of the licenses of the software we and our community distribute.)

You know what this means? It means that those who claim the GPL isolates itself from standards bodies' IP pledges are wrong. It *is* possible to come up with language that satisfies the GPL and still acknowledges patents, and this is the proof. That means Microsoft could do it for OOXML if it wanted to. So who is isolating whom? Thank you, Red Hat, for innovating again to protect the FOSS community.

Here's what Eben Moglen says about the agreement:

"Red Hat's settlement of outstanding patent litigation on terms that provide additional protection to other members of the community upstream and downstream from Red Hat is a positive contribution to the resources for community patent defense. We would hope to see more settlements of this kind--in which parties secure more than their own particular legal advantage in relation to the third-party patent risk of the whole FOSS community--when commercial redistributors of FOSS choose to settle patent litigation. SFLC welcomes Red Hat's efforts on the community's behalf."

This is what Novell could have done, I would suggest, and when their 5-year indentured labor contract is over, so to speak, I hope they will. The main point is this: Microsoft, Ecma, ISO, are you paying attention? It can be done. It's been done. Now, the ball is in your court. There is no legal reason why the GPL has to be excluded from patent agreements.

OK. How'd they do it? Of course, the actual terms are not available, but here is the concept: you can have patent agreements, so long as the terms do not conflict or add any new restrictions.

For example, here's the patent wording in GPLv2:

7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the integrity of the free software distribution system, which is implemented by public license practices. Many people have made generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed through that system in reliance on consistent application of that system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.

See? You can settle patent litigation or whatever, so long as you don't violate the terms of the GPL. And from this day forward, no one can say it can't be done with the GPL. Red Hat just did it.

OK. But what about GPLv3? That's anti-patents, right? Well, not so fast. Of course, software patents are a hindrance to innovation and directly conflict with the Open Source development model, but one of the purposes of doing a revision of the GPL was to make it more business-usable. Surprised? It's true.

So let's look at the terms of the GPLv3 regarding patents:

10. Automatic Licensing of Downstream Recipients.

Each time you convey a covered work, the recipient automatically receives a license from the original licensors, to run, modify and propagate that work, subject to this License. You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties with this License.

An “entity transaction” is a transaction transferring control of an organization, or substantially all assets of one, or subdividing an organization, or merging organizations. If propagation of a covered work results from an entity transaction, each party to that transaction who receives a copy of the work also receives whatever licenses to the work the party's predecessor in interest had or could give under the previous paragraph, plus a right to possession of the Corresponding Source of the work from the predecessor in interest, if the predecessor has it or can get it with reasonable efforts.

You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License, and you may not initiate litigation (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that any patent claim is infringed by making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the Program or any portion of it.

11. Patents.

A “contributor” is a copyright holder who authorizes use under this License of the Program or a work on which the Program is based. The work thus licensed is called the contributor's “contributor version”.

A contributor's “essential patent claims” are all patent claims owned or controlled by the contributor, whether already acquired or hereafter acquired, that would be infringed by some manner, permitted by this License, of making, using, or selling its contributor version, but do not include claims that would be infringed only as a consequence of further modification of the contributor version. For purposes of this definition, “control” includes the right to grant patent sublicenses in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License.

Each contributor grants you a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free patent license under the contributor's essential patent claims, to make, use, sell, offer for sale, import and otherwise run, modify and propagate the contents of its contributor version.

In the following three paragraphs, a “patent license” is any express agreement or commitment, however denominated, not to enforce a patent (such as an express permission to practice a patent or covenant not to sue for patent infringement). To “grant” such a patent license to a party means to make such an agreement or commitment not to enforce a patent against the party.

If you convey a covered work, knowingly relying on a patent license, and the Corresponding Source of the work is not available for anyone to copy, free of charge and under the terms of this License, through a publicly available network server or other readily accessible means, then you must either (1) cause the Corresponding Source to be so available, or (2) arrange to deprive yourself of the benefit of the patent license for this particular work, or (3) arrange, in a manner consistent with the requirements of this License, to extend the patent license to downstream recipients. “Knowingly relying” means you have actual knowledge that, but for the patent license, your conveying the covered work in a country, or your recipient's use of the covered work in a country, would infringe one or more identifiable patents in that country that you have reason to believe are valid.

If, pursuant to or in connection with a single transaction or arrangement, you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work, and grant a patent license to some of the parties receiving the covered work authorizing them to use, propagate, modify or convey a specific copy of the covered work, then the patent license you grant is automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works based on it.

A patent license is “discriminatory” if it does not include within the scope of its coverage, prohibits the exercise of, or is conditioned on the non-exercise of one or more of the rights that are specifically granted under this License. You may not convey a covered work if you are a party to an arrangement with a third party that is in the business of distributing software, under which you make payment to the third party based on the extent of your activity of conveying the work, and under which the third party grants, to any of the parties who would receive the covered work from you, a discriminatory patent license (a) in connection with copies of the covered work conveyed by you (or copies made from those copies), or (b) primarily for and in connection with specific products or compilations that contain the covered work, unless you entered into that arrangement, or that patent license was granted, prior to 28 March 2007.

Nothing in this License shall be construed as excluding or limiting any implied license or other defenses to infringement that may otherwise be available to you under applicable patent law.

See? If you protect essential terms of the GPL, you can still settle a patent litigation lawsuit, pay for a license, etc., just as you normally would. That is what Red Hat did. In the press release, note what they accomplished:

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the settlement of patent litigation involving Firestar Software, Inc. and DataTern, Inc. The settlement protects Red Hat's customers and the open source community from similar suits and sets an important precedent in the breadth of protection for the open source community.

Red Hat was sued for patent infringement by Firestar in 2006 and later by DataTern. Red Hat denied the infringement claims and in time drove a settlement that not only ended the particular claims against it, but also provided for extensive protections for its customers and the larger open source community that Red Hat relies upon.

"Typically when a company settles a patent lawsuit, it focuses on getting safety for itself," said Rob Tiller, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, IP. "But that was not enough for us, we wanted broad provisions that covered our customers, who place trust in us, and the open source community, whose considerable efforts benefit our business."

The covered products include all software distributed under Red Hat's brands, as well as upstream predecessor versions. The settlement also protects derivative works of, or combination products using, the covered products from any patent claim based in any respect on the covered products. Essentially, all that have innovated to create, or that will innovate with, software distributed under Red Hat brands are protected, as are Red Hat customers.

"Red Hat's settlement satisfies the most stringent patent provisions in open source licenses, is consistent with the letter and spirit of all versions of the GPL and provides patent safety for developers, distributors and users of open source software," said Richard Fontana, Open Source Licensing and Patent Counsel at Red Hat.

Paul Frields, Fedora Project Leader noted that, "Through the coverage of both upstream and downstream developers and distributors in the settlement, the Fedora community (and others) are given protection that builds on the assurances that Red Hat already offers. Given the software patent world in which we must operate, this is a good day for the Fedora global community."

Red Hat has consistently maintained that software patents impede innovation in the software industry and conflict with open source development and distribution. Open source requires transparency that allows members of the community to use, modify and share software with one another without constraint. Through its Open Source Assurance program, Red Hat provides open source intellectual property protections that protect its customers and encourages them to deploy with confidence. The program provides assurances for customers that cover Red Hat-branded subscription products and also provides indemnification protection.

So. A very big day.

By the way, it's also an interesting case, and you can read the Red Hat Answer to the plaintiffs' 3rd Amended Complaint [PDF] if you want to see how prior art searching results get used in litigation, starting particularly on page 12.


  


Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3 | 240 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Here
Authored by: om1er on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 07:54 PM EDT
Please show the correction in the title, if possible.

---
August 10, 2007 - The FUD went thud.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks Discussions Here
Authored by: om1er on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 07:56 PM EDT
Please give the title of the article in the Title of the reply.

There's lots of things happening, it seems. :-)

---
August 10, 2007 - The FUD went thud.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic Here
Authored by: om1er on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 07:58 PM EDT
Please don't post anything on-topic in this thread.

Please post any links to other web-sites using HTML hyper-text.

---
August 10, 2007 - The FUD went thud.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3
Authored by: om1er on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:02 PM EDT
Go Red Hat!

I read earlier today that they had settled two patents, but wondered what the
terms were. Thanks, PJ, for this new information.



---
August 10, 2007 - The FUD went thud.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I want to hear from Ari jaaksi about this! . . n/t
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:07 PM EDT
.

[ Reply to This | # ]

There's More To This Than Patents
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:23 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

I will be the first to admit with my cynical eye that a lot of corporations
follow the Golden Rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. But I hate
dismissing all companies as evil entities. They are reflections of the people
that run them. So, they make money. The real question is, what do they do with
that money?

The FOSS community is important, don't get me wrong. But it is in conflict with
a world that doesn't respect cooperation, led by kings like M$. We have to
fight on their turf as well.

And here's Red Hat. I recall them being pariahs in the Linux community what
seems like a lifetime ago. They make money hand over fist. And what have they
done with that money? They created a legal settlement that drives another nail
through the heart of M$ and its threats. You have to admit, this is a little
bit bigger than mathematically similar fonts.

When it comes to hearts and minds, M$ can never compete. That leaves
legalities. And here's people who can fight that war without being corrupted by
it.

Thank you, Red Hat. Amazing how Novell and them seem to be exchanging levels of
prestige lately.

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

I'm a peeker...I'm a poker...I'm a k'mallocer..I do my coding on a Sun....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Well that is a surprise :)
Authored by: SilverWave on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:34 PM EDT
I saw the headlines elsewhere and I did wonder.

Good to see RH doing the right thing.
It does throw into stark contrast others behaviour.

It is also a smart business move "good will" is just that.

---
The universe tends toward maximum irony. Don’t push it. —JWZ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hats off, Red Hat
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:39 PM EDT
Red Hat takes a lot of abuse, both from those in the Linux community who don't trust them and from those outside of the Linux community who would have people believe that acting like slime is part and parcel of success in software.

Insert rude noise here.

I may not be a fan of their software packages but that doesn't keep me from admiring a company that seriously walks the talk.

Who's with me for raising a glass to class?

[ Reply to This | # ]

I wonder.... patent validity
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 08:53 PM EDT

Without access to the actual settlement terms, we can only speculate.

I wonder if the main reason Firestar agreed to such terms was because of the risk their patent would end up being found to be invalid. In such a situation, any other licenses they're already currently collecting would stop.

Darn, shucks, drat.... just because they targeted the wrong company their patent asset disappears. Ah well... depending what other licensees decide to do with Red Hat's filing, their patent asset may disappear anyways ;)

That would be a nice signal to those who want to target FOSS with patents:

    Better not, unlike proprietary companies, FOSS is more likely to defend and make the patent worthless.

RAS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Eyeballs for ODF - the Groklaw discussion thread
Authored by: bbaston on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 10:07 PM EDT
For Groklaw's benefit - whether participating over at OASIS or just passing by - here's the place to post.

PJ reminds those of us monitoring the discussion to
"Stay polite at all times, of course, if you say anything, and you needn't say anything, but do follow along and please keep us posted on anything you see that sounds peculiar."


OASIS discussion list for ODF Implementation, Interoperability and Conformance

If you want to monitor the "real, live" OASIS discussion by dispatches directly to your emailbox, send an email to
oiic-formation-discuss-subscribe at lists.oasis-open.org [replacing " at " with "@"]
and OASIS should then send a confirm-by-reply for your enrollment.

Some relevent OASIS announcements include the ones here and her e.

---
IMBW, IANAL2, IMHO, IAVO
imaybewrong, iamnotalawyertoo, inmyhumbleopinion, iamveryold

[ Reply to This | # ]

Feeling festive
Authored by: PolR on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 10:19 PM EDT
This one gets me to open a bottle of Saumur-Champigny, well a half-bottle for I
won't drink a full bottle by myself.

I understand that the agreement is confidential, but I wonder if the parties are
amenable to disclose just the part of the agreement that is relevant to the GPL
compatibility. When comes the time to argue with standard bodies that such
agreements can be done, perhaps it would be useful to have some actual example
of the language to start with.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Hindsight is 20-20
Authored by: ShineOn on Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 10:53 PM EDT
PJ: "This is what Novell could have done ..."
Not quite. If you'll recall (and I doubt you have forgotten) the GPLv3 we have now was devised specifically to prevent whatever it is that Novell allegedly did with Microsoft, WRT patents. It's kind of hard to predictively fit your actions to future, not-yet-written rules, that are going to be changed specifically to prevent whatever actions you're predictively fitting to the not-yet-written rules. I also remember, and you probably do too, that the Novell/Microsoft so-called patent agreement did not violate GPLv2. Further, it seems to me that it's a slightly different circumstance. The RedHat agreements are result of settlement of a lawsuit. The Novell/Microsoft "agreement" was an attempt to ease the fears of Novell's customer base, not as a result of legal action. Maybe if RedHat comes up with some patent agreement in the absence of legal action it might come close. Plus, the whole stinkaroo around the Novell/Microsoft "agreement" was primarily because it was with Microsoft, not because it had any real impact, good or bad, on anything GPL or FOSS. There's no similar hatred of the companies RedHat wrote this agreement with. If this RedHat agreement were with the dreaded M-word, then you'd all be up in arms looking for how to change GPLv4 to prevent such a thing from happening ever again, just like you (collectively) did with GPLv3 in reaction to the Novell deal - regardless of whether or not it met the letter of GPLv3, it would've been against the "spirit" of GPLv3. (sarcasm intended) Sure, I too hope that Novell does something spectacularly intelligent after the term of their agreement is over. What I'm kind-of wishing for is that they take the devil to court over the SCOsource license. Remember, one thing NOT present in the Novell/M$ patent promise - they didn't promise not to sue each other, just not to sue their customers. If they do - would they then be back in FOSS's good graces, or would the fact that they're using their IP that way be anathema even though it'd be against the devil?

[ Reply to This | # ]

GPL The Terms
Authored by: sproggit on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 01:25 AM EDT
Reading PJ's article and the various discussion threads posted in response to
this article, one thought that occurs to me is that there is clearly some value
in the terms that Red Hat managed to secure as part of the deal.

It's very unfortunate that the exact terms of the agreements Red Hat reached and
signed are likely to remain confidential.

But could it be that there is an underlying pattern, approach, or structure to
the deal here that could be applied elsewhere? Let's face it, this is not the
last time that a company with a proprietary software business and a block of
patents is going to try and sue a member of the FOSS community for
infringement.

So it just occured to me that in the spirit of that same FOSS community, it
would be nice if Red Hat were able to disclose the *principles* and perhaps
*structure* of the agreements, say without disclosing the precise terms.

IANAL and in cases like this certainly could predict how much the deal structure
would disclose.

Thoughts anyone?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not the Usual Patent Settlement
Authored by: webster on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 01:26 AM EDT

At first blush it appeared from the headlines that Red Hat (RH) was subject to the usual patent heist. Thanks to PJ for an article highlighting its significance.

  1. First of all one does not want to diminish RH's stand for Open Source, the GPL and freedom, but in order to continue distributing open source software under the GPL, they had to fight this tooth and nail or write around the patent. That is something difficult to do in this era of obscurely-termed method patents. Fortunately RH had a few aces in litigators and evidence. Who wants to sink a few million in patent litigation right now with patent-test hysteria emanating from the DC Federal Circuit as the unanimous, hot breath of the Supremes sears their necks and loosens their tongues.
  2. Thank PJ for the link to the RH Answer. They put up a formidable defense. One wonders who paid who in settlement. RH denied infringement, denied the patent applied, denied the patent was good, accused them of lack of diligence re prior art, hiding prior art, hiding inventors to obscure the application. They named names and threatened the plaintiff's pockets deep or otherwise.
  3. RH and other linuces (3rd declension?) are forever immune to these patent claims. Firestar was spared the risk of invalidation so they are still free to go after propietary infringers only, thanks to RH. Of course current Firestar licensees might like to renegotiate a discount about now so Firestar can reward them for not piggy-backing on the RH settlement with their newly-derived RH fork. Every licensee can GPL their code and combine it with RH in the relevant parts. Hell's fire! People might start abandoning licences. Patent-free, GPL code is starting to look mighty good to business. Pretty soon it will be essential for business software --patent and litigation free. Leave all that unpleasantry to sound plug design.
  4. PJ couldn't spare the needle for her friends at Novell who lay with the Monopoly:
    This is what Novell could have done, I would suggest, and when their 5-year indentured labor contract is over, so to speak, I hope they will. The main point is this: Microsoft, Ecma, ISO, are you paying attention? It can be done. It's been done. Now, the ball is in your court. There is no legal reason why the GPL has to be excluded from patent agreements.
    They are paying attention, PJ. If they don't agree, they get to chose between being ignorant or malicious. What is worse everyone is being educated to see it that way, too.

    Let's try and be charitable to Novell. No doubt the Monopoly --in their evangelistic-jihadic fashion-- brought immense pressure on Novell. They may have threatened 235 patents worth of litigation, the cost of which in fees and reduced sales would have put them out of business. To be less charitable, Novell saw this as an opportunity to be the Monopoly's chosen one, the only safe Linux. Corporations were supposed to abandon RH and buy SuSe, patent-safe. It's hard to term it as greed in the modern world, but let's just say they smear on the same deodorant as SCO.

It's late and it's not haiku.


~webster~

Tyrants live their delusions. Beware. Deal with the PIPE Fairy and you will sell your soul.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Red Hat Branded?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 02:52 AM EDT
I wonder if there is any importance to the terminology in the press release
relating to Red Hat branded software. Red Hat can create and release derivative
works themselves -- do we know for sure that anyone can take and fork the
protected work, create a new project, and still be under the protection of this
agreement if they release their forked version without being under a red hat
brand umbrella?

[ Reply to This | # ]

RAND +
Authored by: Ian Al on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 03:58 AM EDT
I would like to see SFLC use the knowledge of this settlement to provide a legal
framework for the non-descriminatory part of RAND such that it results in patent
licence terms compatible with GPL3. Organisations like the European Commission
would snap up the definition in order to test the compliance of abusive
monopolists with court orders. As PJ says, other ultruistic organisations like
ECMA and ISO <sarcasm> which exist purely for the public good
</sarcasm> would effectively be duty-bound to adopt the more closely
defined version of RAND.

Of course, it would only be an interim arrangement for software patents. May
they suffer an ignominious and painful death. It may have an enduring value
since there are other community efforts that might benefit from, say,
electronics and other hardware RAND patent licences especially when related to
mechanical interface patents incorporated into standards.

---
Regards
Ian Al

If you are not using Linux, you may be beyond help.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Question.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 05:58 AM EDT
I've searched my pockets and down the back of the couch, but I can't find my
Open Source Licensing and Patent Counsel. Is it possible for the FSF to craft a
license that ACTUAL HUMANS can understand?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Without the actual language of the agreement ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 10:18 AM EDT
... I presume that RedHat just paid a lot of money to settle. Like anyone else
in its situation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will the settlement terms ever be made public?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 10:30 AM EDT
So Richard Fontana said this:
Most patent settlements and similar agreements are confidential, but to my knowledge this is the first patent settlement that satisfies the requirements of GPL version 3.
This sort of implies that the settlement won't be confidential, but later in the article PJ says this:
OK. How'd they do it? Of course, the actual terms are not available,
Are the terms ever going to be made public, or do we have to take Red Hat's word for it? How can we know exactly who or what code is protected, and from exactly which patents if we can't see the actual terms of the agreement?

I think that it is nice that Red Hat has done this, but unless they make the full terms of the agreement public, then how can we know what protections we have from it. As PJ always says, hire your own lawyer and ask them, but I know any attorney worth their fee is going to say that they cannot tell you what protections you are getting without reading the actual agreement.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It makes sense to settle/grant free use for GPL and sue for proprietary.
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 02:07 PM EDT
I was wondering how long it would take for a deal like this. If patent trolls are smart, they will settle for a free grant for GPL use, because attempting to tax GPL code in this way is a waste of money - they won't pay anyway, and there will be thousands of eyeballs looking for prior art to invalidate your patent as well as hundreds of developers coding around the patent. It is basically a hiding to nothing.

For interoperability patents, smart patent trolls can actually use GPL to their advantage by giving a free grant of the patent for GPL use, in order to establish the patent's ubiquity in use. Then they can focus on suing proprietary vendors who need to license the patent to inter-operate with the free software which uses the patent.

Buying off the community's eyeballs by granting free use to GPL is also a smart move if you don't want to risk your patent being invalidated by searches for prior art as a result of the community seeing the patent as a potential threat to GPL.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 05:19 PM EDT
Patent language compatible with the GPL is not a new thing. The DjVuLibre project already comes with such a language. Each source file contains the following copyright notice where Lizardtech grants the necessary rights:

//C- | DjVu (r) Reference Library (v. 3.5)
//C- | Copyright (c) 1999-2001 LizardTech, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
//C- | The DjVu Reference Library is protected by U.S. Pat. No.
//C- | 6,058,214 and patents pending.
//C- |
//C- | This software is subject to, and may be distributed under, the
//C- | GNU General Public License, either Version 2 of the license,
//C- | or (at your option) any later version. The license should have
//C- | accompanied the software or you may obtain a copy of the license
//C- | from the Free Software Foundation at http://www.fsf.org .
//C- |
//C- | The computer code originally released by LizardTech under this
//C- | license and unmodified by other parties is deemed "the LIZARDTECH
//C- | ORIGINAL CODE." Subject to any third party intellectual property
//C- | claims, LizardTech grants recipient a worldwide, royalty-free,
//C- | non-exclusive license to make, use, sell, or otherwise dispose of
//C- | the LIZARDTECH ORIGINAL CODE or of programs derived from the
//C- | LIZARDTECH ORIGINAL CODE in compliance with the terms of the GNU
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I have a question. . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 12 2008 @ 05:57 PM EDT
It deals with the word "may."

From paragraph 10 (highlighted in red):

"You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights
granted or affirmed under this License."

Normally the word "may" is permissive, not mandatory. Compare the
word "may", permissive, to the word "shall."
"Shall" normally is mandatory. There is a huge world of difference
between the two.

Hence, my question is -- has the word "may," as used in this
settlement the exact same meaning as the mandatory meaning in the word
"shall?"

If not I can see a bumpy road ahead of us.

krp

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Our monster guy said it dead on
Authored by: designerfx on Friday, June 13 2008 @ 02:23 AM EDT
In his response to when monster cable tried to sue, some parts need to be
changed to fit with what is happening with GPL but this same philosophy needs to
apply to all companies, and it currently doesn't:

"intense frustration with insurance carriers who would settle meritless
claims for nuisance value when the better long-term view would have been to
fight against vexatious litigation as a matter of principle. In plaintiffs'
practice, likewise, I was always a strong advocate of standing upon principle
and taking cases all the way to judgment, even when substantial offers of
settlement were on the table. I am "uncompromising" in the most
literal sense of the word. If Monster Cable proceeds with litigation against me
I will pursue the same merits-driven approach; I do not compromise with bullies
and I would rather spend fifty thousand dollars on defense than give you a
dollar of unmerited settlement funds. "

Red hat = example of not giving in to principles. What happens when you give in
to the money? Ask novel. Ask any company that allowed themselves to be bought
out by MS. Would it suck to not have an enormous infinite well of cash? Yes.
Would you be selling out? Absolutely. Is a corporation ever going to be forgiven
for selling out? No. Will Novell ever not be labeled as the company that kissed
up to MS? Well, why not ask MS?

[ Reply to This | # ]

OK, I'm confused...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 13 2008 @ 01:06 PM EDT
This is what I think happened, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.

1) Red Hat was accused of patent infringement
2) Red Hat denies, defends, and finally settles (wihin the GPL2/3 license)

Um, doesn't that mean that the patent owner (Firestar?) *agreed* to allow Red
Hat to settle rather than taking them to court?

So, doesn't that mean that the patent owner could have chosen to take Red Hat to
court and (if successful) could have prevented Red Hat from distributing the
infringing code?

And since it's a patent rather than a copyright, it protects the *idea*, not the
*implementation*, right? Meaning you can't simple change your code, you
literally can't do whatever the patent covers *at all*, right?

Given all that (and please tell me if I've erred stating the facts) what, if
anything, are we celebrating? It would seem to me that given a valid patent FOSS
would basically be SOL should the patent owner forbid FOSS to use the patent.

Which, if I understand patents, the owner has the right to do.

So what am I missing?

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Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 13 2008 @ 02:43 PM EDT
Yes, thank you, that's helpful.

My main point, however, is not about this particular patent. What happens if a
*valid* patent shows up and the patent owner doesn't want to play?

Wouldn't that cause a crimp in whatever FOSS project (or all projects, period,
FOSS or proprietary) that fell afoul of the patent?

Which, if true, means FOSS is in no better position than it was. Firestar *let*
Red Hat settle under terms of the GPL (which was good for JBoss) but how does
this help in the general case?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Oops, mea culpa - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 13 2008 @ 07:30 PM EDT
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