Patent pants

I don’t understand patents and patent law. I can understand the idea of protecting innovation, and inventors should be able to protect genuinely clever ideas, but the current case against Red Hat and Novell defies logic.

The case concerns a patent once owned by Xerox, to define multiple pages in a graphical user interface. IP Innovation, a patent services company, the current owner of the patent, has alleged that Linux infringes this patent, four years on from SCO’s lawsuits against IBM, Novell and the open source community and Linux users.

The patent appears incredibly far-reaching. It’s not only Red Hat and Novell that are affected. I spoke to Clive Longbottom, at Quocirca about this. Clive believes it affects every modern GUI operating system, in-car computer, the menu system on Freeview boxes etc.

I don’t agree with many of Richard Stallman’s views regarding free software. But I do think something needs to be done to correct what is clearly a broken patent system which simply does not work when applied to software.