Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 12th Nov 2010 21:26 UTC
Red Hat "When patent troll Acacia sued Red Hat in 2007, it ended with a bang: Acacia's patents were invalidated by the court, and all software developers, open-source or not, had one less legal risk to cope with. So, why is the outcome of Red Hat's next tangle with Acacia being kept secret, and how is a Texas court helping to keep it that way? Could the outcome have placed Red Hat in violation of the open-source licenses on its own product?"
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why secret settlement?
by TechGeek on Sat 13th Nov 2010 01:57 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

As I stated on the source site: All court proceedings pertaining to patent infringement should be public record. Patents are public record, and any case that upholds them or invalidates them should also be public. The real question is, what does this all mean. Did Red Hat buy off Acacia on this patent? Or did they just pay up since the time limit on the patent is over, and now it doesn't matter?

Reply Score: 2

RE: why secret settlement?
by Rahul on Sat 13th Nov 2010 05:34 UTC in reply to "why secret settlement?"
Rahul Member since:
2005-07-06

Usually when patent trolls attack software companies, the court seals the details of the agreement reached for various reasons

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: why secret settlement?
by elsewhere on Sun 14th Nov 2010 04:03 UTC in reply to "RE: why secret settlement?"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

Usually when patent trolls attack software companies, the court seals the details of the agreement reached for various reasons


The court has nothing to do with it. Red Hat settled with Acacia before the court ruled, happens all the time. The settlement is a contract between Acacia and Red Hat, the court has nothing to do with it.

There's no conspiracy here. It's not unusual for this type of deal to be under NDA, and RH likely had no choice in agreeing other than proceeding with the court case and risking a worse outcome.

RH, of all companies, would know full well the risk they would take with obtaining a patent grant for LGPL software that they distribute without being able to include that indemnity downstream to all possible users. They were fairly vocal about this when Novell found themselves in the same situation with Microsoft. While I am generally cynical of most companies, RH has enough of a positive track record in support of free software that I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here.

I wouldn't find it inconceivable that RH paid a one-time settlement to Acacia in exchange for an irrevocable license to utilize the patent in an LGPL compatible manner on behalf of the community. A company like Acacia would insist on the agreement being under NDA so that they don't lose leverage in trolling other companies down the road using the tech in an unrelated, non-LGPL manner. In other words, the only way I could see RH agreeing to a settlement like this being under NDA terms is if they were confident they removed the Acacia threat from the community. And no, I'm not being naive, that's simply in line with Red Hat's business model.

I could very well be wrong, of course. If Acacia winds up pursuing this same suit against other users/organizations after settling with Red Hat, then Red Hat will have some splainin' to do, I would imagine.

Either way, it sucks that there will be an understandably inevitable cloud hanging over the project now. But then software patents suck in general.

Reply Score: 5

Come on!
by vodoomoth on Sat 13th Nov 2010 18:13 UTC
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

... infringed upon U.S. Patent No. 6163776 (PDF), which essentially claims invention of the object-relational database paradigm. In that paradigm, an object in an object-oriented software language represents a database record, and the attributes of the object represent fields in the database, making it possible for programmers to access a database without writing any SQL.

This is a perfect definition of Hibernate, which (I remember it now that I'm writing this) is now developed by JBoss, which in turn is owned by Red Hat. Not sure this lawsuit would have existed if Hibernate had been an Apache project as there's no money to extort from a non-profit foundation.

EDIT: oops, I posted my comment before finishing reading the linked article where a lawsuit against a single developer is mentioned. Maybe that instead of hoping to drain the swamp when swatting mosquitoes won't do the trick, open source projects could also bring their rifles to the showdown instead of always standing as pacifists? I'm sure open source projects could have patented a lot of things. "Could" because I know that patents cost money to apply for.

Edited 2010-11-13 18:33 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Hrm...
by looncraz on Sun 14th Nov 2010 20:18 UTC
looncraz
Member since:
2005-07-24

infringed upon U.S. Patent No. 6163776 (PDF), which essentially claims invention of the object-relational database paradigm. In that paradigm, an object in an object-oriented software language represents a database record, and the attributes of the object represent fields in the database, making it possible for programmers to access a database without writing any SQL.



Umm... so a class that provides access to a database is a patented paradigm???

I mean, does this mean almost every program I have ever written violates this patent??

I mean, seriously, the entire IDEA behind object-oriented programming is to do precisely what this patent covers. It is virtually inherent when doing anything at all serious.

I wrote a video rental program that had objects that provided access in this manner to customer data [and again for rental history], movie titles, and much more.

And that ain't the only one, just an easy example.

class Customer : private dbAccessor
class RentalHistory : private dbAccessor
class Movie : private dbAccessor

The fact that Customer::Name() refers to db_cell:A1 is a violation of the patent?

That is all the patent really seems to cover... other than including some language for the db side of things...

Or am I somehow missing something??? Please tell me I'm missing something....

--The loon

Edited 2010-11-14 20:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2