Red Hat makes patent reform a key strategy

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Red Hat makes patent reform a key strategy

Antony Savvas
Red Hat is to make the drive for industry patent reform a key part of its open source strategy.

At last week's Red Hat Summit in the US, Red Hat deputy general counsel Mark Webbink pushed a three-part intellectual property strategy to promote product innovation.

The first part of the strategy builds on the work of the existing Fedora project, the free Linux project sponsored by Red Hat. The company is creating the Fedora Foundation, with the intent of moving Fedora project development work and contributed code to the foundation.

Red Hat will still provide financial and engineering support to Fedora, but by creating the foundation it intends to promote broader community involvement in Fedora-sponsored projects.

The second front of Red Hat's patent strategy is to continue to pressure the US government and the European Parliament on patent reform.

Red Hat wants patent systems to apply a higher standard of scrutiny to patent applications to ensure better patent quality and to expand the rights of third parties to challenge questionable applications and issued patents.

Red Hat is also to create a Software Patent Commons to help promote the development of innovative software by sharing information and views among developers and software technologists.

"Patents are not equal to innovation," said Webbink. "More often, innovation occurs despite patents. Today in the software industry patents are used to maintain market share, even where that share has been obtained by anti-competitive means."

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