All good patent trolls know that you sue in the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Texas (EDTX). It's known for its pro-patent judges that speed patent cases along their docket to the patent holders' victory. That's not just me and my anti-patent buddies speaking. No less a figure than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has described the EDTX as a "renegade jurisdiction." It's no wonder than that patent troll Bedrock chose the EDTX as its battlefield for its attack on Google, and a host of other companies, over a violation of its patent, which appears to be used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL).
In the case, the EDTX jury on Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC vs. Google, Inc., awarded Bedrock $5 million. That's chump change by patent troll standards, but Bedrock has also sued, among others, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL There's money in those companies and Bedrock wants it!
Their justification? That the company's crap patent, Methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data is violated by Red Hat in its Linux products.
Now, I hate all software patents, but even if I didn't, this patent is garbage. As I read it, I think I violated it myself back in the 80s. I mean, just read it, it's a description of how to use hashing with a linked list. Come on! That might not be programming 101, but it's not far from it!
Red Hat has sued Bedrock to get the patent revoked for numerous reasons. Among others, they point out that Linux, which dates to 1991, predates the 1997 patent; that no one has ever used the patent; and that in any case Bedrock has no claims to the patent. This case, however, has not been settled yet.
Yes, I know, I know, you'd think that case would have been settled first and then the matter of Red Hat's customers would have been addressed, but that's not how it works in the U.S. Verdict first and trial later to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland's Red Queen.
Now some people, such as Florian Mueller, would have you think that "This patent infringement case has major implications for the IT industry in general and for Linux in particular." The emphasis is his. I disagree.
I think this is an especially striking example of a bad patent decision by the EDTX. It only shows just how bad the U.S. patent system has become that such a ridiculous suit could ever be taken seriously never mind actually winning. Google should appeal this case and, unlike other recent software patent cases, such as Microsoft vs. i4i, I'd expect the anti-patent side to win.
Officially a Google spokesperson would only tell me, "Google will continue to defend against attacks like this one on the open source community. The recent explosion in patent litigation is turning the world's information highway into a toll road, forcing companies to spend millions and millions of dollars defending old, questionable patent claims, and wasting resources that would be much better spent investing in new technologies for users and creating jobs."
I couldn't agree more. Just do a search on "patent and lawsuit' on ZDNet and watch all the patent lawsuit news stream down your screen. Does anyone actually think anything positive or productive is coming from all these lawsuits? I don't.