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Patent infringement lawsuit targets Linux systems

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IP Innovation LLC has just filed a patent infringement claim against Red Hat and Novell. It was filed October 9, case no. 2:2007cv00447, IP Innovation, LLC et al v. Red Hat Inc. et al, in Texas. Where else? The patent troll magnet state.

The first ever patent infringement litigation involving Linux. Here's the patent, for those who can look at it without risk. If in doubt, don't. Here's the complaint [PDF].

Patent Infringement Lawsuit Filed Against Red Hat & Novell - Just Like Ballmer Predicted

Noted from post by john s. smith in grc.techtalk, reminded by seeing a post by Raju elsewhere in these pages :) .

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The patent traces back to Xerox (maybe even Xerox PARC by the looks of it). It isn't on X Windows or Motif, but on some product that I guess is to run on top of X. The plaintiffs in the case are not Xerox, but evidently some sort of company that collects obscure patents. Their filing is very vague inasmuch as it does not explain how RH and Novell are in violation, or even what features of the RH or Novell Linuxes are causing the heartburn.

Looks like a silly money grab. Maybe will settle out of court.

-- rick

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Looks like a silly money grab. Maybe will settle out of court.

I doubt it. Otherwise we'd just be looking at death by a thousand cuts. We may be anyway.

Besides, there's prior art for this, from Microsoft's own products.

...Ken

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... there's prior art for this, from Microsoft's own products.
Good point - well the specification is "vague" anyway. <rant>Why the courts should be obliged to entertain such (apparently) blatent opportunism/adventurism is another matter ("because the unilateral barring of such by any single court official is demonstratably unsafe, considering the history of corruption and/or incompetence in most jurisdictions," would be one answer I suppose - it is a sadly imperfect world).</rant>

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Good point - well the specification is "vague" anyway. <rant>Why the courts should be obliged to entertain such (apparently) blatent opportunism/adventurism is another matter ("because the unilateral barring of such by any single court official is demonstratably unsafe, considering the history of corruption and/or incompetence in most jurisdictions," would be one answer I suppose - it is a sadly imperfect world).</rant>

A late reply, but I'm sitting in a hotel room bored.

This kind of thing is not new; back in the early days of the auto industry, the principal players were held hostage by a gent named Selden, who held a patent on the original application of an internal combustion engine to move a 4-wheeled vehicle. Selden's car never went into production, and may never have been practical (it used a Brayton-cycle engine rather than the Otto-cycle engine we know today), but his patent was enough for him to extract 0.75% royalty from all actual car manufacturers. Henry Ford (et. al.) were taken to court by Selden for infringement (i.e., they would not pay the royalty), and after a lengthy court battle Ford broke the Selden patent in 1911 (Wikipedia link). In defense of Selden, he was actually active in the industry at the time and took the patent out for himself; he didn't simply buy it wholesale from someone else.

-- rick

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Hey, yes! I've heard of that now that you mention it ... That story was pushed to the background for many years, I guess we have the internet to thank (and Wikipedia in particular) for stuff like this being 'way more accessible. The one reliable constant in human affairs is greed and the degree to which a society moderates the harm this might cause to its ordinary members is a measure of its civilization. Well, Brian W. Aldiss said a definitive definition (of civilization) was the distance it puts between itself and its own excreta (and promply hypothesized an exception), but both can be right. Either way, there are readily-discernable goals for improvement :D

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