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Patents Businesses Red Hat Software

Red Hat Hit With Patent Suit Over JBoss 201

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the at-least-it's-not-about-perfume dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A small software company is claiming that Red Hat's JBoss open source middleware violates one of its patents and is asking a court to stop Red Hat from distributing the product. Software Tree LLC claims that JBoss infringes on its database patent for 'exchanging data and commands between an object oriented system and a relational system.' Software Tree's partners include Microsoft, and that the suit was filed in Eastern Texas, which is known as a plaintiff's paradise for patent actions."
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Red Hat Hit With Patent Suit Over JBoss

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  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:39PM (#27065823)
    If the company you are suing is incorporated in one state, and you, the plaintiff, is in another - can you sue in a third state that has no party resident within it, just because it's a "paradise", full of hang-em-high judges?

    IANAL, as you may suspect.
  • easy change of venue (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:44PM (#27065879)

    Since the plaintiff is, according to their own web site, based in California [softwaretree.com], RedHat can argue for a change of venue quite easily.


    "Founded in 1997, Software Tree, LLC is a Silicon Valley based company"

  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:46PM (#27065925)
    I'm no lawyer but wasn't the Bilski decision supposed to put an end to these software patent lawsuits & (essentially) invalidate software patents? Software patents don't deal with "machines" or "transformations", so I'm confused as to how these continue... Or is the Bilski case waiting to have their day in front of the US Supreme Court and such cases will continue until a ruling comes down from SCOTUS...
  • Woahh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GerardAtJob (1245980) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:48PM (#27065951)

    So... If I understand correctly : every OO program that talk with a relational database is guilty?...

    no more comments...

  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:56PM (#27066063)

    Furthermore... they seem to be trying to patent what TopLink [oracle.com] was already doing prior to 1996 [wikipedia.org].

    For those who care, TopLink has now been opensourced as EclipseLink [eclipse.org]

  • by lorenlal (164133) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:01PM (#27066113)

    As always: IANAL, but I do remember the class in business law I took... For whatever that's worth.

    The statement that stuck with me in that class is, you go after them wherever they do their business. If they're based in New York, you go to New York cause that's the state that would have to most jurisdiction and ability to uphold whatever the ruling is.

  • by tyrione (134248) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:02PM (#27066119) Homepage
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_Objects_Framework [wikipedia.org]

    NeXT, now Apple has patents on this stuff predating this with DBKit.
  • by Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:10PM (#27066215)

    What a crook. Bad! I had to look twice because I fully expected this to be a "kdawson". Not this time, though.

    I'd put money down that the "anonymous reader" that wrote the summary was actually kdawson.

  • by ggraham412 (1492023) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:20PM (#27066345)
    I've been writing custom data access layers since 2001, and they all have components that vaguely resemble this: http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/patog/week15/OG/html/1329-2/US06163776-20080408.html [uspto.gov]. There needs to be a test that goes beyond "prior art" for software patents. Namely, if a software solution is obvious given the problem and the tools, then it should not be patentable. Otherwise, patent law does not advance the common good, it merely makes programming more expensive/less productive.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:23PM (#27066397)
    If we changed the licenses (e.g. GPL) to specifically forbid the distribution or use of the software in East Texas, would patent trolls still be able to file lawsuits there? It seems to me the "patent plaintiff-friendly" court's business plan has a serious design flaw...
  • by Bobb9000 (796960) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:48PM (#27066747)

    I'm no lawyer but wasn't the Bilski decision supposed to put an end to these software patent lawsuits & (essentially) invalidate software patents? Software patents don't deal with "machines" or "transformations", so I'm confused as to how these continue... Or is the Bilski case waiting to have their day in front of the US Supreme Court and such cases will continue until a ruling comes down from SCOTUS...

    Not exactly. Bilski did set up a new test for patentable subject matter, the "machine or transformation" test you noted, but it's not clear whether this shoots down software patents entirely (since programming a general-purpose computer with the software involved may make it a "specific machine" for the purposes of Bilski), and in any case, Bilski's only immediate effect is to prevent new patents from being issued that don't pass this test. Existing patents remain in force, even if they wouldn't have passed the machine or transformation test, until a court or the USPTO specifically rules them invalid. That doesn't happen until the patent is challenged.

    If Bilski is read to invalidate software patents generally, then it would be very dangerous for Software Tree to bring this suit, since Red Hat could simply ask to the judge to rule the patent invalid. Since Bilski isn't clearly defined to do this, suits like this are still going to keep happening.

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @01:58PM (#27066901)

    The problem is copyrights and trade secrets. In "steel and stone" patents, product difference are quite apparent, arguing that your product does something different, or even "different enough" is relatively easy as you can point to the parts and demonstrate the actions to the judge. Often a company pays a small fee, then goes back with a "different enough" design to satisfy the judge that infringement is not occurring, then everybody moves on.

    With software, it's never about the "parts" or the source code, it's always about end function. A moped and a tractor-trailer are the same thing on paper.. both have motors and carry people.. but in reality they are way different. There's no such "common sense" test for software, especially when dealing with higher-level things like databases and object oriented. On paper they may do the same thing, but in reality they may differ quite wildly.. These cases never get down to source code and flow charts and architectures because those are "trade secrets"... but cornerstone to the case of patent infringement.

  • by Bobb9000 (796960) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:14PM (#27067081)
    While it doesn't go that far, there's a bill just introduced in Congress that would make forum shopping like this more difficult. The Patent Reform Act of 2009 would mean, in part:

    Patent Litigation Venue: "A party shall not manufacture venue by assignment, incorporation, or otherwise to invoke the venue of a specific district court." Venue is only proper were (a) defendant is incorporated; (b) defendant has its principle place of business; (c) where the defendant is permanently located and has committed substantial acts of infringement; or (d) where the plaintiff resides if the plaintiff is a nonprofit or individual inventor. The court should transfer venue to avoid evidentiary burdens when transfer can be accomplished without causing undue hardship to the plaintiff."

    (From Patently-O [patentlyo.com])

  • Re:Fishy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rob Riggs (6418) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:21PM (#27067189) Homepage Journal

    Then you might know of a product called PowerTier [internet.com], later renamed to DataXtend CE [progress.com]. That was an ORM for C++ and Java from Persistence, which was also acquired by Progress. We started using that at version 5 or 6 around 2000/2001 time frame.

  • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @02:51PM (#27067571)

    (a) ... defendant... (b) ... defendant... (c) ...defendant... or (d) where the plaintiff resides if the plaintiff is a nonprofit or individual inventor.

    Or, otherwise translated, you must sue the defendant in their home jurisdiction, and multiple defendants in multiple jurisdictions, unless we think that you're a sympathetic plaintiff, in which case you can sue in your home jurisdiction like every other Federal plaintiff bringing a claim against private party (assuming that there is personal jurisdiction).

    One of many reasons why this legislation is going to require substantial changes before it will pass. No large patent owner is going to want to be forced into giving up the "home field advantage" in the name of patent reform, or to be forced to pursue multiple suits against multiple defendants in front of multiple judges where formerly they could pursue them as one.

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