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Red Hat's patent deal: Proof that the GPL works

Red Hat has shown the world that patents and open source can co-exist, if done right.

A few weeks ago Red Hat reported that it had reached a groundbreaking patent deal with a selection of patent trolls that put the community, not Red Hat, first.

"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."

Now we have the proof [PDF].

This is a watershed moment for open source and, as Groklaw notes, for the GNU General Public License:

Most of the agreement is typical language, but [Red Hat] explains the parts that are specific to this agreement, which is groundbreaking. It's living proof that the GPL can function as intended, and without compromise, while still dealing with US patent law.

Red Hat continues to demonstrate open-source business leadership by not compromising its standards. It deserves accolades for protecting downstream open-source users. Microsoft should take a page out of Red Hat's book as it seeks to entice open-source developers to its platforms.