Here's A Surprise: Red Hat Wins Patent Lawsuit In East Texas

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

It's so rare that we post about a good patent ruling coming out of East Texas that it seems worth highlighting that they do happen. The latest is that Red Hat won after being sued by a patent hoarder, who claimed that every version of Linux infringed on its patents. The jury found that the patents in question were invalid and tossed them out. You may recall that we actually wrote about this lawsuit when it was filed, noting that the company who filed it, IP Innovation, was actually one of many shell companies representing Acacia, which for many years has been a leader in hoarding patents and suing companies who actually innovate. We also noted at the time that the patents in question seemed highly questionable. The fact that even a jury (which tends to find patents valid the majority of the time) found the patents ridiculous is pretty telling.


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  1.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 10:40am

    "Red Hat won after being sued by a patent hoarder"

    Mike, the politically correct term is patent maximizer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:18am

    the non politically correct term is "patent whore-der"

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:18am

    A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    Well, more to the point, as Pamela Jones noted, Judge Leonard Davis was replaced by Judge Randall Rader of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That means that for practical purposes, it wasn't the East District of Texas, and the litigants got approximately the judicial oversight they would have gotten from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. The Texas Jury was a fairly minor element in the case. It would be interesting to see the trial transcript. Judge Rader may be pigheaded at times, but he's honest, unlike Judge Davis. By the time Judge Rader had gone through the case and had thrown out all the elements which ran counter to current appellate law (eg. KSR v. Teleflex, etc.), there might not have been much of anything left for the jury to decide. The basic core fact is the the patent was filed in 1987, and modern windowing systems are at most incremental advances on the Macintosh of 1984. The patent examiner was apparently a real Duh, someone who didn't read Byte or Dr. Dobb's Journal every month. When your job is supposedly to be an expert on computers, and you won't spend twenty-five bucks on a magazine subscription... but I gather the patent office is full of people like that.

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20100430223358785

     

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  4.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 11:24am

    Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    Well, more to the point, as Pamela Jones noted, Judge Leonard Davis was replaced by Judge Randall Rader of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

    Aha! Yeah, I had seen that Judge Rader was handling a whole bunch of cases down in East Texas this session, and I'm glad to see he's having an impact.

    Separately, a patent attorney I know was saying that he had a case that was supposed to go before Judge Rader last month, but once they realized that Rader was hearing the case the patent holder that was suing quickly came back with a much lower settlement offer.

    Looks like he's cleaning up some of the East Texas mess.

    Wonder if he'd be willing to take a demotion to being there full time? :)

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    Perhaps Judge Rader was handling the case because at about the same time Judge Davis was sitting by designation on at least one panel of the CAFC.

    To imply that perhaps Judge Davis has a possible bias that leans towards patent holders is, in my opinion, inappropriate. He is a respected jurist.

    As for the constant characterization of the FDC for the ED of Texas as being pro-patent, data collected by Dennis Crouch at Patently-O undermines such a characterization.

     

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  6.  
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    zegota (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    First, just because someone believes a judge's interpretation of a law doesn't mean that person is implying the judge is irresponsibly biased. He's saying Judge Davis may have an interpretation of patent law that is not constructive for our society on a whole. That doesn't necessarily make him a bad judge -- it's far more likely that law is written in a bad way.

    Second, can you provide a link to the data to which you refer? It seems strange that so many patent horders would go to the trouble of filing in that district if it wasn't beneficial.

     

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    JEDIDIAH, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    The GUI did not come from Apple. It was essentially bought from Xerox and work on it had been going on inside of academia for some time. The mouse in particular was a very old idea by the time that Apple started work on the Mac.

    The product over which Redhat was being sued came out of academia and has significant functional differences from MacOS. The meat of those differences is primarily what these patents were about. X likely had already impemented those features by the time the relevant patents were filed.

    Not every GUI is a copy of the Mac. X is a very good example of that.

     

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  8.  
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    JEDIDIDAH, May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    Bullsh*t.

    Davis needs to be tarred and feathered and ran out of the state. He's an embarrassment to every other Texan.

    The fact that patent trolls like to head straight to him is a clear sign of bias. You have to be an idiot or have something to gain from his bias not to see it and call him out on it.

    Calling Judge Davis the patent trolls b*tch is entirely appropriate.

    The fact that he doesn't smack down the trolls just for the act of venue shopping in and of itself should be embarrasing for any other Texan. He should send their carpet bagging *sses back where they came from.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 3rd, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    First, just because someone believes a judge's interpretation of a law doesn't mean that person is implying the judge is irresponsibly biased. He's saying Judge Davis may have an interpretation of patent law that is not constructive for our society on a whole. That doesn't necessarily make him a bad judge -- it's far more likely that law is written in a bad way.

    Exactly.

    Second, can you provide a link to the data to which you refer? It seems strange that so many patent horders would go to the trouble of filing in that district if it wasn't beneficial.

    Indeed. I'm curious to see the data, as well, because the latest date I've seen, which we wrote about here: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100127/2100057953.shtml showed that East Texas was incredibly friendly to plaintiffs.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    This is to a draft of work currently being performed by Mark Lemley at Stanford:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1597919

    I found it interesting that even Lemley was surprised that much of the data suggests that plaintiff and defendant counsel are making decisions that do not appear to square with the data obtained thus far.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    "IP Innovation"

    That's an oxymoron. Heck, IP doesn't even claim to stimulate innovation, it claims to stimulate "invention" and even then that's still not true.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:24pm

    "The fact that even a jury (which tends to find patents valid the majority of the time) found the patents ridiculous is pretty telling."

    The fact that the patent office even granted such bogus patents alone is telling.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 3rd, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: A Daniel Come to Judgment.

    Taking one idea from one GUI and simply "porting" or transposing it to another GUI or OS is hardly an act of innovation.

     

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  14.  
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    staff, May 4th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    truth about trolls

    "Red Hat won after being sued by a patent hoarder..."

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

     

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