Score One Against The Patent Trolls

And lets us all say it is about fracking time. (Note the BSG style-swear word, as these stories about patent trolling always seem like science fiction to my way of thinking.)

Red Hat and Novell have, for once, prevailed against a company called Acacia Research Corporation. It’s too bad the only research these types of companies do is seeing who is next on the list of those companies they will prey upon.

But the word from slashdot is that the good guys have finally made a dent in the number of lay down cases in Marshall, Texas, home of the strangest legal minds in the nation.

walterbyrd writes with news that Red Hat and Novell have won a patent case brought by a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation. The company had "accused Red Hat and Novell of infringing three patents that cover a computer-based graphical user interface that spans multiple workplaces, and lets users access icons remotely, according to court documents. A jury in Marshall, Texas yesterday sided with Red Hat and Novell’s defense that the patents were invalid." Red Hat’s Michael Cunningham said, "The jury knocked out three invalid patents that were masquerading as a new and important inventions, when they were not. We appreciate the jury’s wisdom and remain committed to providing value to our customers, including through our Open Source Assurance program. We also remain stalwart in resisting bogus shakedown tactics.”

This is exactly the type of litigation that makes many wonder if there should even be software patents. The closeness of coding in many things makes the idea that anyone not possessing the power of omniscience thinking they could discern the way that a piece of software was developed (was it copied, or was it coded spontaneously, from a fertile mind?) is absurd.

I’ve always thought that software patents, if retained, should be of the type that if the look is identical, the patent has been infringed, and the holder prevails, otherwise, it’s like music, it was close, but no cigar. Move on to the next project.

Perhaps we should bring back the ways of feudal England, and trial by combat.

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