Feeds

Red Hat pushes Microsoft for patents statement

It's not what you do...

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Red Hat has called on Microsoft to resist threatening developers and customers with prosecution over possible infringements of patented technologies in Linux

Mark Webbink, Red Hat’s deputy general counsel, on Wednesday called on Microsoft to make a written pledge not to threaten developers with infringement claims.

In the event of disputes, Microsoft should approach Linux distributors with complaints and avoid SCO Group’s tactic of prosecuting customers, he says.

Speaking at LinuxWorld in San Francisco, California, Webbink proclaimed: “If Microsoft has IP that needs to be respected, [then] come to the companies… leave our customers out of the middle – it’s the civil thing to do.”

The presence of IP in Linux is both a murky subject and keen talking point. According to Open Source Risk Management (OSRM), also appearing at LinuxWorld after Webbink, 15,000 patent issues are “relevant” to the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/Python (LAMP) stack, of which 300 are “colorable claims” relevant to Linux. A colorable claim is something that may not be legitimate but merely appears to have legitimacy.

According to Webbink, Microsoft’s goal is to ramp up its of number patent filings. He noted Microsoft’s wish to file 3,000 patents a year - compared to approximately 200 in 1994.

The problem this poses for ISVs and customers is the cost associated with fighting patent infringement actions. Simply researching each patent can cost $5,000 per patent, meaning organizations may settle in the early stages of a case to minimize their costs. “It’s not a game, it’s expensive for a company to look at a patent portfolio,” Webbink said

Worse, most software patents are invalid. Webbink quoted research that found 67 per cent of all software patents filed between 1988 and 1996 did not stand up, while one in two claims are currently thrown out rather than registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

This leads Webbink to conclude that Microsoft, and other companies also aggressively filing patents, are doing so to protect their business and restrict the competition. “Patents are about maintaining market share and preventing others competing effectively,” he said.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.