Red Hat Settles with Firestar

News out of Boston that Red Hat has settled the long-running patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by Firestar Software and a later suit filed against the company by DataTern.

Filed on June 26, 2006, the lawsuit by Massachusetts-based software vendor Firestar Software, Inc. was brought against Red Hat in connection the Hibernate 3.0 software product acquired by Red Hat through its then-recent acquisition of JBoss. In the lawsuit, Firestar alleged that JBoss and Red Hat are infringing U.S. patent number 6,101,502 (issued on August 8, 2000) through their activities relating to Hibernate. While software patent infringement lawsuits had become increasingly frequent in the world of proprietary software at the time of the lawsuit, the suit was viewed as the first of its kind relating to a widely distributed open source software product.

The specific financial and other terms of the settlement were not disclosed. However, Red Hat indicates that the settlement includes broad terms covering “all software distributed under Red Hat’s brands.”  Of particular note, the settlement also protects all “upstream predecessor versions” as well.   In addition, Red Hat indicates that the settlement protects “derivative works of, or combination products using, the covered products from any patent claim based in any respect on the covered products.” Perhaps most importantly (for shareholder of Red Hat in particular), the company indicates that the settlement is sufficient to enable RedHat (and its users) to continue to distribute its open source software products in compliance with the terms of all applicable open source licenses.

In its press release on the settlement, Red Hat indicates that the settlements leave Red Hat with one remaining patent infringement suit against it — based on a complaint filed in October 2007 by IP Innovation LLC and Technology Licensing Corp, both subsidiaries of patent troll (er, “holding company”) Acacia Media.


OLPC Starts Today

Just a quick reminder to update my earlier post. Starting today — Monday, November 12 at 6:00am EST — you will be able to donate one XO laptop to a child in the developing world and also receive a laptop for the child in your life, by visiting or calling toll-free 1-877-70-LAPTOP. Give early, give often.




[UPDATE:  It sounds like I am not the only one who thought it would be worthwhile to buy 2 XO laptops — the more, the merrier.]

GOSCON Here I Come


I will be speaking next month at GOSCON 07 (that’s the Government Open Source Conference). This year the event runs from October 15-16 in Portland, OR. The event has grown quite a bit over the last two years and the organizers are expecting over 500 attendees at the conference this year. As Stephen Walli and others have noted, this is an excellent event if you have anything to do with free and open source software from a government perspective (and that includes government contractors and vendors). Stehpe was a presenter last year and speaks very highly of the event — click here for his account of the conference.

My session is titled “Open Source Licensing 101.” The topic is relatively broad and gives me a license to cover a number of different areas — and with the recent legal activity around open source licensing, there is no shortage of areas to cover. I am still developing the materials, but regardless of your level of experience with open source licensing the session should be of value.

Special thanks to Deb Bryant for organizing the event (and for inviting me to speak). From the looks of it, she has done an exceptional job building, growing, and maintaining the conference. I am really looking forward to being a part of this event.