Novell-Red Hat Conundrum: What's a FOSS Supporter to Do?
Feb 26, 2009, 18:02 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)
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"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.""