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Red Hat Needs to be Transparent and Explain the Acacia Settlement

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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