The first part of the strategy announced by Webbink builds on the work of the Fedora project, the free Linux project sponsored by Red Hat. Red Hat will create the Fedora Foundation with the intent of moving Fedora project development work and copyright ownership of contributed code to the Foundation. Red Hat will still provide substantial financial and engineering support, but this move will assure broader community involvement in Fedora-sponsored projects.
In recent months Red Hat has engaged in efforts to reform government public policy on patents in Europe and in the United States. Webbink talked specifically of Red Hat's engagement with the European Parliament to amend the Computer-Implemented Inventions directive. In the United States Red Hat has called for reform of the patent system to hold patent applications to a higher standard of scrutiny that ensures better patent quality, and to expand the rights of third parties to challenge questionable patent applications and issued patents.
The third arm of Red Hat's strategy is to work to protect open source by creating a Software Patent Commons. Much like the Creative Commons which encourages collaboration by wide sharing of rights under copyright, a Software Patent Commons would enable a future of free collaboration and thought sharing among software technologists with reduced concern over patents.
"Patents are not equal to innovation," stated Webbink. "More often, innovation occurs despite patents. What we observe today in the software industry is the use of patents to maintain marketshare, even where that marketshare has been obtained by anticompetitive means. We need to move away from a system of software patents compromised by trivial, incremental enhancements that block innovation, to a system that is aimed at rewarding substantial innovation."
Red Hat has established a patent portfolio for the purpose of defending against the patent infringement claims of others. For more information on Red Hat's patent policy, please see http://www.redhat.com/legal/patent_policy.html
About Red Hat
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SOURCE: Red Hat