Acacia denies patent claim is an attack on open source, denies any Microsoft role

Summary:Acacia Research Corp. on Friday released a statement to ZDNet's Open source Blog writers regarding the patent infringement case it filed against Red Hat and Novell on October 9.

Acacia Research Corp. on Friday released a statement to ZDNet's Open source Blog writers regarding the patent infringement case it filed against Red Hat and Novell on October 9.

In the statement, which appears below in its entirety, Acacia insists that its patent claim is not in any way an attack at open source software and vigorously denies that Microsoft has any role in it, directly or indirectly:

"Many inventors, whether individuals, small corporations, research institutes, universities or even large corporations, do not have the scale, expertise or experience to license their patent rights directly for products or services which might incorporate their inventions. These inventors partner with Acacia’s subsidiaries to generate a financial return for those inventions. The Acacia subsidiaries have successfully negotiated over 500 patent licensing agreements covering 25 different patented technologies."

"Since 1790, when the United States first passed the Patent Act, significant value has been created by invention, and that value enables the originators of, and the investors in, the inventions to be rewarded for their efforts and be able to reinvest in further invention. Acacia is proud of its role in helping to enable this cycle of innovation. "

With respect to the IP Innovation action with Red Hat and Novell, the patents in question pertain to Graphical User Interface technology that originated from early research efforts by Xerox-PARC. These same patents have been licensed to other technology manufacturers having products which feature a GUI. "

"IP Innovation is not attempting to inject itself in the ongoing philosophical debate of whether products or services which utilize Open Source are subject to the same intellectual property laws/behaviors as non-Open Source offerings. Acacia and its subsidiaries do not philosophically differentiate any company, but rather seek to consistently and fairly monetize patent rights from those companies which incorporate patented technology."

"Lastly, while we are happy that former Microsoft employees Brad Brunell and Jonathan Taub have joined our team, there is no connection to this “normal” business behavior of IP Innovation LLC, and the licensing activities with Open Source software providers. Microsoft, as they publicly stated, has no involvement with IP Innovation LLC, and Acacia and its subsidiaries are only aligned in the spirit that investment and research which yields patents should be economically rewarded."

Through a spokesman, Novell said it will vigorously defend its interests but it's too early at this stage to talk about specifics on this case.

Red Hat also declined to comment, and noted that it will address the issue in its next earnings filing.

How should Red Hat and Novell respond to claim? Please cast your vote on what the two Linux vendors should do.

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Topics: Microsoft, Legal, Open Source, Security


Paula Rooney has covered the software and technology industry for more than 20 years, starting with semiconductor design and mini-computer systems at EDN News and later focused on PC software companies including Microsoft, Lotus, Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and other open source and commercial software companies for CRN and PCWeek. She receiv... Full Bio

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