EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

03.31.13

Rackspace and Red Hat Battle Against Vile Troll (‘Uniloc USA’) Can Help Weaken Software Patents in the US

Posted in Patents, Red Hat at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rack

Summary: Rackspace helps beat software patents, with additional help from Red Hat

THE EFF is happy with the outcome of a trial that Dietrich Schmitz covered on Friday. “Luckily for the defendant,” he said, “the judge ruled early on before the case got under way and was saved a substantial sum in litigation fees for fighting a frivolous lawsuit.” But the main point here, patents got thrown out for being reducible to math, just like all software patents. This is major.

Here is an article about the decision:

Today was a big day in patent law, which is important to anyone who thinks they might one day have an original idea for a product, and wants to protect it. In particular, if that idea involves an algorithm or software.

First, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Texas threw out a claim against cloud storage company Rackspace, stemming from a 2012 complaint filed by Uniloc USA. The case, according to a TechCrunch report, asserted that the “processing of floating point numbers by the Linux operating system was a patent violation.” In other words, a processing method, or counting method, might be the exclusive property of Uniloc.

Here is other good coverage and some from the SFLC:

Several times in recent years, opponents of software patents have looked hopefully to Congress and the Supreme Court for a solution to the expensive problem of software patents, and several times we’ve been disappointed. The narrow Bilski v. Kappos ruling invalidated one business method patent but left the question of software patents to one side, and even arguably weakened a rule—the “machine-or-transformation” test—intended to limit the scope of patentability. The reforms of the America Invents Act were half-hearted; they provided additional opportunities to challenge patents at the USPTO, but did not fundamentally affect the rules for patenting software.

Despite these missed opportunities, there are signs of slower but consistent reform in the courts, and yesterday’s ruling in the Eastern District of Texas in Uniloc v. Rackspace is one of them. The Uniloc ruling is about as good as it gets for a defendant in a software patent case: the judge dismissed the case at an early stage on the grounds that the claim at issue described an unpatentable mathematical formula.

LWN wrote about this and Mark Webbink, formerly of Red Hat, covered this in Groklaw. Many correctly call Uniloc a patent troll, including this headline:

A patent troll that accused Rackspace of violating a patent merely by selling Linux-based servers has seen its case thrown out. A judge ruled the patent claim invalid because it describes a relatively simple math operation.

The company in question is Uniloc, which has a long history of suing tech vendors. In 2009, a US District Court judge overturned a $388 million verdict Uniloc had won against Microsoft. That litigation was finally settled late last year for an undisclosed sum. Uniloc continues litigating however, with at least a dozen lawsuits filed just last week.

Uniloc sued Rackspace in June 2012 in US District Court in Eastern Texas (PDF), claiming Rackspace violated its patent “by or through making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing servers running Linux Kernel (version 2.6 or higher), which is used to process floating point operations carried out on Rackspace’s servers including those servers used in conjunction with Rackspace’s hosting solutions/products.”

The fight of Rackspace against patent troll Uniloc is not Rackspace’s only battle against software patents, as was covered here before. Here is the press release about the outcome:

Plaintiff Uniloc USA, Inc. is a frequent litigator, having brought patent lawsuits against many high-tech companies including Adobe, Microsoft, Sony and Symantec. Rackspace provides its customers with managed servers running the Linux operating system. Red Hat, which supplies Linux to Rackspace, provided Rackspace’s defense as part of Red Hat’s commitment to standing behind customers through Red Hat’s Open Source Assurance program.

Here’s more:

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE: RAX) announced that they have won a federal court decision granting early dismissal of all claims in a lawsuit brought by the patent assertion entity Uniloc USA, Inc.

Plaintiff Uniloc USA, Inc. is a frequent litigator, having brought patent lawsuits against many high-tech companies including Adobe, Microsoft, Sony and Symantec. Rackspace provides its customers with managed servers running the Linux operating system. Red Hat, which supplies Linux to Rackspace, provided Rackspace’s defense as part of Red Hat’s commitment to standing behind customers through Red Hat’s Open Source Assurance program.

The press release calls Uniloc plaintiff rather than troll. How polite. “Uniloc USA, Inc.” is not a company, this is a façade. Here is a good article from a FOSS news site:

Red Hat and Rackspace have won the court battle with patent troll Uniloc USA, Inc. The company alleged in its complaint that the processing of floating point numbers by the Linux operating system violated U.S. Patent 5,892,697. A federal court decision had granted an early dismissal of all claims in a lawsuit brought by Uniloc USA, Inc.

This bit of news got heaps of coverage (here is some in German), probably more than coverage of Red Hat’s financial results. Let’s hope this case has maximal impact on US law.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 20/8/2014: Linux Event, GNOME Milestone

    Links for the day



  2. Corruption Watch: Microsoft Lobbying Designed to Kill Chile's Free Software Policy and Promote Microsoft With Subsidies, More Dirty Tricks Emerge in Munich

    icrosoft is systematically attacking migrations to GNU, Linux and Free software, using dirty tricks, as always



  3. Vista 8 Such a Disaster That Even Microsoft Cannot Cope With It, Vapourware Tactics Start Early

    Microsoft's Windows-powered services are failing and Windows gets bricked by Microsoft patches, whereupon we are seeing yet more of Microsoft's vapourware tactics (focusing in imaginary, non-existent versions of Windows)



  4. On BlackBerry and Other Patent Trolls

    A roundup regarding patent trolls, starting with the bigger and latest joiner, BlackBerry's new patents apparatus



  5. Links 19/8/2014: Humble Jumbo Bundle 2 Betrayal, Mercedes-Benz Runs GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  6. BlackBerry -- Like Microsoft Nokia -- Could be the Next Patent Proxy Troll

    BlackBerry is restructuring for patent assertion (i.e. trolling) in the wake of some alliances with Microsoft



  7. After Microsoft's Soft Bribe Some Non-Technical Deputy Does Not Like Free Software, Microsoft-Linked Media Responds to This Non-News by Making Bogus Claims of Munich Leaving GNU/Linux (Updated)

    The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich's lead



  8. Gates Foundation CFO Quits and Debate About Revolving Doors Recalled Amid Systematic and Shrewd Bribery of Public Officials

    More officials step out of the Gates Foundation and their destination is not known yet; Gates continues to corrupt the public sector with his money so as to increase personal gain at taxpayers' expense



  9. Links 19/8/2014: GNU/Linux Raves and Alternative to Proprietary Voice Chat

    Links for the day



  10. Links 18/8/2014: Linux 3.17 RC1, Escalation in Ferguson

    Links for the day



  11. Gartner Group Advocates Using Defective Software With Back Doors

    Despite strong evidence that Microsoft has been complicit in illegal surveillance, Gartner continues to recommend the use of Windows and other espionage-ready Microsoft software



  12. The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

    Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies



  13. Links 16/8/2014: Microsoft Linux, US Government Turns to Free Software

    Links for the day



  14. Links 15/8/2014: Reiser4 in Headlines Again, GNOME and KDE Events Finish

    Links for the day



  15. Links 14/8/2014: Kernel Summit Coming, KMix on KDE Frameworks 5

    Links for the day



  16. Shameless Microsoft Spin is Blaming China for Microsoft's Misconduct and Back Doors While Justifying Massive Losses in Hardware (Made in China)

    A new look at how Microsoft-friendly media takes negative Microsoft news and turns that news into some kind of scandals where Microsoft is the victim



  17. Microsoft Spin in the Media Evokes 'New Microsoft' and New Back Doors

    Some new examples of Microsoft boosters rewriting history, characterising Microsoft as a FOSS champion, and generally weak/shallow reporting on Microsoft's audio/video surveillance software



  18. Links 13/8/2014: GNU/Linux as Winner, New Snowden Interview

    Links for the day



  19. Reader's Article: Skype Spying Reaches New Levels of Blatant

    Forced 'upgrades' of Skype give useds [sic.] of Skype more than they asked for



  20. The Problem is Software Patents (and Scope), Not Patent Trolls Who Abuse Them Just Like Large Corporations

    Reminder of the dangers of losing sight of the real patent problem, which is the patents themselves, not necessarily those who use them



  21. Fraud in the USPTO and CAFC Helped Apple Launch Frivolous Patent Lawsuits Against Linux/Android, Based on New Withdrawals

    Inherent corruption in the US system has aided Apple's assault on east Asian electronics giants that use Linux at the core of their products



  22. Investigation Reveals That USPTO is Corrupt, Time to Abolish It or Annul Nearly a Million Patents

    Corruption is found at the heart of the USPTO and the USPTO works hard to hide it, despite attempt by whistleblowers to bring this corruption to light



  23. Links 13/8/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 Beta, Tizen in Watches

    Links for the day



  24. Links 12/8/2014: Chromebooks Surge, OpenGL in the Headlines

    Links for the day



  25. Bill Gates is Profiting By Diverting Public Money to His Own Pocket and Reducing Wages

    Gates' lobbying for companies he is an investor of and for lower salaries inside companies he is investing in (and managing) comes as no surprise



  26. Microsoft is Still Attacking Open Standards, So Khronos Does Not Need the Microsoft Moles

    Having attacked the industry's document standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) while pretending to have 'embraced' ODF Microsoft is now pretending that it is eager to support OpenGL



  27. Another Depressing Look at the Patent Systems in the US and in Europe

    A roundup of news about patent monopolies and in particular the immense power wielded by giant multi-national corporations that steer the debate and acquire trans-Atlantic monopolies on ideas, always against citizens' interests



  28. Links 11/8/2014: DEFT 8.2, Linux Mint on Debian Stable

    Links for the day



  29. Links 9/8/2014: Knoppix 7.4.0, GNU Linux Libre 3.16

    Links for the day



  30. Links 8/8/2014: Qt a Separate Company Again, KDE Frameworks 5.1 Released

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts