10.06.10

Red Hat Needs to be Transparent and Explain the Acacia Settlement

Posted in GNU/Linux, Patents, Red Hat at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Militia secret

Summary: Red Hat does not answer questions about the nature of its patent settlement with Acacia

Details were needed about the Red Hat-Acacia settlement, but we only received limited new input in the comments and found two news articles about it, namely:

i. Red Hat settles with Software Tree

Neither Red Hat or Software Tree have disclosed the terms of the settlement. When asked for comment Red Hat would only say “Red Hat routinely addresses attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source via allegations of patent infringement” and confirmed they had settled the case. Whether the settlement includes a resolution for users of the open source Hibernate library is therefore unclear. Previously, Red Hat has settled cases and acquired a “licence” for users of its open source projects; without doing this, the settlements effect would be limited to Red Hat.

ii. Red Hat settles patent case with Acacia – shares few details

As to how Red Hat has settled the alleged IP infringement, that’s where the transparency (or lack thereof) is my concern. When I asked Red Hat about the patent settlement with Acacia I got the following statement:

“Red Hat routinely addresses attempts to impede the innovative forces of open source via allegations of patent infringement. We can confirm that Red Hat, Inc and Software Tree LLC have settled patent litigation that was pending in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 6:09-cv-00097-LED).”

It’s not clear, whether this dispute was settled with a licensing of the patent, a financial payment of some kind of other mechanism. I specifically asked Red Hat about the settlement terms, but so far haven’t received any clarity beyond the above statement.

These articles do not help answer an important question. I asked Red Hat’s Fontana if users other than Red Hat customers are covered. “[If] the answer is “no”,” I said”, “that’s OK but we must have transparency from Red Hat; an NDA [is] no excuse” (Fontana almost always replies to me, but this time there is no response and other journalists who tried the same thing received no real answer either, so maybe it is a matter of policy to keep quiet). Acacia is a real problem and it is believed to be connected to Microsoft (Acacia has former Microsoft staff in it).

More people should pressure Red Hat to provide answers. Without transparency there is no trust.

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8 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    October 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Gravatar

    Red Hat likely took the NDA approach and perhaps because Acadia/etc paid them.

    I’m not trying to get people off Red Hat’s back, but I would not want people to assume Acadia won because that could very well be the exact intended effect of an NDA and why Acadia would then have had to give Red Hat something of value.

    Yes, I don’t like NDAs. Maybe this one lasts for a modest term or Red Hat got something very valuable (that hopefully does not hurt the community or overly enrich their execs at our cost).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    A Firestar lawyer has shown me that Red Hat did make an announcement when others got covered.

    http://press.redhat.com/2008/07/15/a-readers-guide-to-the-firestar-settlement/

    gnufreex Reply:

    I was thinking the same. Acacia is in cahoots with Microsoft, and Microsoft is interested in FUD these days. Maybe Red Hat got GPL-compatible settlement in exchange for silence, so that Microsoft Mobbyists can go wild. They are already inventing theories that Red Hat got Novellized.

    twitter Reply:

    I wonder if they also launched a whisper campaign and or stock manipulation fraud. Red Hat’s share price took a 7% beating today on huge volume. It’s all very fishy.

    gnufreex Reply:

    All companies that are viewed as “cloud computing” players got beaten up yesterday on wall street:

    Red Hat lost 9%
    Citrix lost 14%
    Rackspace lost 11%
    VM_Bware lost 9%
    Equinix lost 30%

    http://www.thereformedbroker.com/2010/10/06/earnings-season-kicks-off-with-a-public-execution/

    So it’s unlikely that MSFT is behind stock dip. But they are sure sending mobbyists to plug first comment on LWN in hope they can set people against Red Hat
    http://lwn.net/Articles/408660/

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Ask him how much Microsoft paid him and how. See how he responds.

    twitter Reply:

    Florian gets worse every day. Siding with patent troll Acacia is a new low point.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @gnufreex: Exactly. I will do another post about it later today.

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