Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced it has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court. In the brief, Red Hat explains the practical problems of software patents to software developers. The brief, filed in the Bilski case, asks the Supreme Court to adopt the lower court's machine-or-transformation test and to make clear that it excludes software from patentability.
The Bilski case involves the standard for patenting a process. The case concerns a business method patent, but involves many of the same issues as software patents.
"Red Hat continues its commitment to the free and open source software community by taking a strong position against bad software patents," said Rob Tiller, vice president and assistant general counsel, IP for Red Hat. "Our patent system is supposed to foster innovation, but for open source and software in general, it does the opposite. Software patents form a minefield that slows and discourages software innovation. The Bilski case presents a great opportunity for the Supreme Court to rectify this problem."
Patenting of software exploded in the 1990s based on judicial decisions changing the test for patentable subject matter. Software patents now number in the hundreds of thousands, and they cover abstract technology in vague and difficult-to-interpret terms. Because software products may involve thousands of patentable components, developers face the risk of having to defend weak-but-costly patent infringement lawsuits. A new class of business enterprise - patent trolls - has developed to file lawsuits to exploit this system.
The Federal Circuit set forth a clear test to determine if a process is patentable in stating that it must be either "tied to a particular machine or apparatus" or must "transform a particular article into a different state or thing." Red Hat argues that this standard is consistent with Supreme Court case law, and that it should be applied to exclude algorithms, including computer software, from patenting.
The scope of patentable subject matter is an issue of critical importance to the future development of all software, including open source. The Supreme Court's Bilski decision could clarify the law and lessen the risks that innovation will be hindered by patents. Oral argument is scheduled for November 9, 2009.
Red Hat has consistently supported patent reform to address problems posed to open source and other software developers. It previously filed an amicus brief in the Bilski case with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. To read the full amicus brief, please visit http://www.redhat.com/f/pdf/rh-supreme-court-brief.pdf.
For more information about Red Hat, visit www.redhat.com. For more news, more often, visit www.press.redhat.com.
About Red Hat, Inc.
Red Hat, the world's leading open source solutions provider, 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 five 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 applications, management and Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) solutions, including JBoss Enterprise Middleware. Red Hat also offers support, training and consulting services to its customers worldwide. Learn more: http://www.redhat.com.
Certain statements contained in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements provide current expectations of future events based on certain assumptions and include any statement that does not directly relate to any historical or current fact. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including: risks related to delays or reductions in information technology spending, the integration of acquisitions and the ability to market successfully acquired technologies and products; the ability of the Company to effectively compete; the inability to adequately protect Company intellectual property and the potential for infringement or breach of license claims of or relating to third party intellectual property; the ability to deliver and stimulate demand for new products and technological innovations on a timely basis; risks related to data and information security vulnerabilities; ineffective management of, and control over, the Company's growth and international operations; fluctuations in exchange rates; adverse results in litigation; and changes in and a dependence on key personnel, as well as other factors contained in our most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q (copies of which may be accessed through the Securities and Exchange Commission's website at http://www.sec.gov), including those found therein under the captions "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations". In addition to these factors, actual future performance, outcomes, and results may differ materially because of more general factors including (without limitation) general industry and market conditions and growth rates, economic conditions, and governmental and public policy changes. The forward-looking statements included in this press release represent the Company's views as of the date of this press release and these views could change. However, while the Company may elect to update these forward-looking statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to the date of the press release.
LINUX is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. RED HAT® and JBOSS® are registered trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. and its subsidiaries in the US and other countries.