Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pay up to patent trolls?

Network World has an interview with Red Hat Software CEO Jim Whitehurst. The title is very telling: "Red Hat CEO hates patent trolls, but says sometimes you just have to pay up". It's a very pessimistic view.

The article mentions that Red Hat Software paid out $4.2 million to settle a "software" patent suit in 2008. That's a significant amount of money, even for a company that will pass $1 billion in revenue. Again, I wonder what actual innovation could be sponsored for $4.2 million, instead of spending it to settle "software" patents?

Which brings me to the subtitle on the Network World article, because it neatly summarizes why I am fighting to change "software" patents: "Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says software patents impede innovation". This quote from the article sums up that thought very well:
Just like a proprietary software company, one of Red Hat's main goals with settlements is to indemnify its customers against legal actions. Whitehurst said, "I don't think there should be software patents," because they prevent companies from pursuing legitimate business models if they think there's a chance they'll have to pay out patent licensing fees.
But I hope through activism, we can change how "software" patents are treated.

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