RALEIGH, N.C. - —
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, yesterday joined in a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking correction of the standard for inducing patent infringement. The "friend of the court," or amicus brief, submitted by Red Hat and others seeks reversal of a lower court decision that threatens to expand patent litigation. The brief argues that the law requires that only those who actually know of the specific patent at issue and know that it covers the alleged infringing activity can be found liable.
In the case under review, Global-Tech Appliances, Inc v. SEB S.A., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that inducement liability can be imposed on those who have no knowledge of the patent at issue. It used a standard of "deliberate indifference," which it applied so as to equate to a negligence standard. This is inconsistent with the Supreme Court's prior case law. Inducement claims are significant because they are frequently brought against technology companies when there is little or no argument that they directly infringe a patent.
According to Rob Tiller, Red Hat's Assistant General Counsel for IP, "The serious problem of bad software patents is exacerbated by the Federal Circuit's decision. Holding technology innovators liable for inducing infringement of patents of which they have no actual knowledge raises the already substantial risks of innovation, and is counter to the public interest. The Supreme Court's willingness to address this issue is encouraging, and its decision could be a meaningful step to improve this important part of the patent system."
The case is likely to be scheduled for argument next spring. Along with Red Hat, the brief was submitted by Yahoo Inc., eBay, Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., General Motors LLP, Hewlett Packard Company, McAfee, Inc. and Symantec Corporation. The full amicus brief is available here. Red Hat has long been a defender of innovation in the court system, previously filing briefs with both the European Patent Office and in the United States in an effort to preserve innovators' rights. Most recently, Red Hat filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Bilski case, explaining the practical problems of software patents to software developers in slowing and discouraging software innovation.
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Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions and an S&P 500 company, is headquartered in Raleigh, NC with over 65 offices spanning the globe. CIOs ranked Red Hat as one of the top vendors delivering value in Enterprise Software for seven consecutive years in the CIO Insight Magazine Vendor Value survey. Red Hat provides high-quality, affordable technology with its operating system platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, together with virtualization, applications, management and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) solutions, including Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization and JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat also offers support, training and consulting services to its customers worldwide. Learn more: http://www.redhat.com.
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