Red Hat demonstrates the open-source way to quash patent lawsuits

Software vendors of the world, take note: Red Hat has just demonstrated a truly open-source friendly way to tackle patent lawsuits. In settling a patent lawsuit with DataTern and Amphion Innovations PLC, Red Hat protected its short-term interests in the

Software vendors of the world, take note: Red Hat has just demonstrated a truly open-source friendly way to tackle patent lawsuits. In settling a patent lawsuit with DataTern and Amphion Innovations PLC, Red Hat protected its short-term interests in the JBoss software. But it also went much further.

Unlike other patent deals (Read: Every single one that Microsoft has signed ), which try to create a walled garden of protection for the signing parties, Red Hat opted to go much broader:

"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 [Red Hat]. "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."

In case you missed that, Red Hat's policy protects upstream and downstream users of its software, regardless of whether they signed a patent agreement with Red Hat. Red Hat competitors like Novell benefit. Red Hat customers benefit. The open-source community at large benefits.

This is how to do a patent agreement. It's how an open-source friendly company works with patents. Consider it a primer for the rest of us.

No, Red Hat isn't completely out of the woods on patent lawsuits. It is still fighting IP Innovation's suit, but it at least has shown us how it intends to fight the patent threat to open source (and all software).

Tags:
Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

    Join the discussion

    Conversation powered by Livefyre

    Don't Miss
    Hot Products
    Trending on CNET

    HOT ON CNET

    Find Your Tech Type

    Take our tech personality quiz and enter for a chance to win* high-tech specs!