Novell, Red Hat Fend off Software Patent Claim

All the way back in 2007 (The Year Gilmore Girls ended), a company called IP Innovation sued Red Hat and Novell over a patent related to the concept of virtual desktops. It seems like common sense hasn’t been drained entirely from the US justice system, since yesterday, the courts declared said patent invalid.

Patent number 5,072,412, titled “User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects” is detailed like this: “The invention relates to the organization of display objects such as windows into groups which are displayed together on a display-based user interface, each group being appropriate to particular user task.” In other words, virtual desktops.

The courts declared the patent invalid because of prior art. “The claims asserted by the plaintiffs were deemed invalid based on the existence of extensive prior art,” said Rob Tiller, vice president and assistant general counsel for intellectual property at Red Hat.

Interestingly enough, despite some fundamental differences in company culture, Novell and Red Hat joined forces in this legal battle and were represented by a single legal team. While Novell signed the infamous patent deal with Microsoft, Red Hat never did.

In any case, this is good news for all of us – patent trolls are pure poison, and do not belong in a functioning and well-lubricated modern capitalist economy. “The jury’s decision shows that the open source community can stand up to coercion based on bad software patents, and that juries can see through arguments based on FUD,” Tiller said.

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