Former Red Hat Counsel Mark Webbink and Duke Law professor offers his take on the Red hat patent Settlement
Although I had to repress my initial gag reflex at even settling these cases (the amount of prior art identified against the original patent asserted by FireStar was/is almost mind boggling), the settlement is a rational response to such claims. Red Hat disposed of the claims in a fiscally responsible manner given the cost of patent litigation. However, that is the far less interesting aspect of the settlement. The truly admirable part of the settlement were the terms that Red Hat and its legal team extracted from DataTern and its financial backers. Not only did Red Hat obtain license terms that protect its products, including Hibernate, it did so in a manner that I believe is entirely consistent with both versions of the GPL. That is no small feat. And we are not talking about a Microsoft/Novell style license. On top of that, Red Hat didn’t stop with the asserted patents; they made sure that DataTern and its portfolio of patents aren’t going to be a problem for Red Hat and its licensees for a long time to come.
Here are some videos about software patents that Mark made with Red Hat just before he moved on to academia.
Mark Webbink On: Software Patents
Mark Webbink On: The Red Hat Patent Promise.
Mark Webbink + Alan Cox On The Red Hat Patent Promise
In our last blog posted on February 21, I proposed three test pitches for Microsoft to help judge the meaningfulness of its latest efforts to turn over a new leaf on interoperability. The first of these was to embrace the extant, multi-vendor ISO standard, ODF (Open Document Format) in lieu of its single vendor dominated efforts to create a new standard, OOXML (Office Open XML).
The first pitch was thrown in Geneva last week at the ISO ballot resolution meetings on OOXML. And we can safely say: strike one! There was no renouncement of the OOXML standard by Microsoft. Instead, every indication was business as usual.
By the way, you have to seriously wonder about those Geneva meetings. According to reports I’ve received about the meetings (which were closed but reportedly audio recorded), only a disturbing 25 or so of the approximately 1,000 substantive comments that were scheduled to be acted upon were actually discussed. As for the remainder of the comments, it appears that, in order to complete the agenda, a decision was made to vote on all of the remaining, undiscussed comments in a single vote.
After months of hype, and voluminous tech press coverage, the big day is nigh.
The GPLv3 hits the streets Friday and according to Palamida, a software vendor with an application that can track and identify software licenses, at least 5,500 projects are expected to adopt the new draft quickly.
While that’s a small number of the estimated 370,000 projects currently licensed under the GPLv2, it’s a healthy indication that the 18 months and four drafts worth of work from the FSF has yielded a useful document after all.
Erwan at Groklaw observes:
If it wasn’t possible to please absolutely everyone on planet earth, it’s because not everyone is on the same page as to what matters most. That’s fine. GPLv3 isn’t trying to be the one and only license in the world. And it’s not a religion or a political document. It’s a license. That’s all it is. Use it if it suits your needs. It surely meets some current legal needs in a way no other license does. In fact, what it foresaw regarding patents actually came to pass while it was in the draft process.
For a little more color on the GPLv3, check out this talk by Sapna Kumar delivered at a recent TRILUG meeting.