Patents: to settle or not to settle


The comparison between Red Hat’s patent settlement and the MS-Novell covenant is instructive, but the two settlements are not exactly identical.

The downstream impact of both certainly only protect the respective companies’ customers. It is the upstream protection of developers that make the settlement’s coverage “broad” (you used the term “visionary” under quotation as if it was claimed by Red Hat; they did no such thing). Contrast to the MS-Novell deal that only covers Novell developers!

It would have been better to fight the lawsuit to completion, I agree, and considering the FLOSS world consider settlements in GPL licensing disputes to be a victory in their favour, the nature of this settlement is definitely ambiguous at best. Hopefully RH legal is using their resources to fight bigger battles. Abolish software patents — and curtail most patents in general, it’s not as if they lead to significant innovation anyway (Boldrin and Levine [2008]).


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