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Novell-Red Hat Conundrum: What's a FOSS Supporter to Do?

Feb 26, 2009, 18:02 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)

[ Thanks to Jmaguire for this link. ]

"This is not a random example. It could have occurred last week, except that those involved chose to avoid presenting the community with such a dilemma.

"I am referring to the request for community help in the IP Innovation LLC et al vs. Red Hat Inc. et al suit. This patent case concerns three patents on multiple workspaces (AKA virtual desktops) -- a common feature of GNOME, KDE, and other GNU/Linux desktops. The defendants are looking for prior art -- that is, evidence that the multiple workspaces existed before the patents were filed. Such evidence could make the patent invalid and therefore stop the case.

"The idea that software patents are dubious and stifle innovation is widely accepted in the FOSS community. The Free Software Foundation's End Software Patents campaign, for example, enjoys almost uncritical support in the community. For this reason, it is unsurprising that the request was widely publicized, and met with dozens of intelligent responses. Typical coverage was found on Slashdot, which used the headline, "Red Hat Enlists Community Help To Fight Patent Trolls.""

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