Red Hat slapped with patent suit

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Red Hat slapped with patent suit

Firestar Software has filed a claim against Linux vendor Red Hat for an alleged patent infringement in one of its software products.

Firestar Software has filed a claim against Linux vendor Red Hat for an alleged patent infringement in one of its software products.

The disputed patent describes a model for "employing relational database with object oriented software". Firestar alleges that Red Hat's Hibernate 3.0 product infringes on the patent and is demanding unspecified damages.

The case was filed last Monday in the Eastern District of Texas.

A Red Hat spokesperson told vnunet.com that the company is aware of the situation but declined any further comment.

Red Hat acquired the Hibernate product last month when it purchased JBoss. The application is an object/relational persistence service that offers similar functionality to Firestar product. The application is governed by the LGPL open source license.

The case could turn out to be a first test for several anti-patent shields that open source providers have put up over the past year.

The Open Source Development Labs last year launched the Patents Commons project that aims to help developers avoid infringing on patents. Numerous patent holders including IBM, Novell, Red Hat and Sun Microsystems also have pledged not to use their patents against open source projects, although some pledges are more limited in their scope than others.

Anti-patent activist Florian Mueller however dismissed the OSDL project as a "placebo initiative".

"Depending on how the FireStar suit evolves, Red Hat may have to answer the question whether it grossly overstated the benefit of those initiatives to open source developers and users. Apparently, the patent projects supported by Red Hat haven’t really discouraged FireStar from suing," he wrote on his blog. 

A PDF document with the complaint and a description of the disputed patent is available on the Patently O blog.
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