It is interesting that I was just talking about the problems with our patent system. Today Red Hat and Novell have been jointly sued for patent infringement on the idea of “workspaces” on a computer. The plantiff? A company that does nothing but patent troll – IP Innovation, a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation. The hole goes deeper, as two ex-Microsoft employees (specializing in IP claims) has just recently been hired at Acacia.
As for the patent itself? It should never have been granted. The idea of a workspace is as old as the idea of a desktop. Speaking of the desktop, Acacia owns this patent as well. This company buys up computer ideas, and then sits on them until big companies wonder into its legal trap, then attack. As for this court case? The entire incident echoes of the lawsuit SCO filed against companies using Linux (claiming ownership). The infamous smoking gun on that case was financial records indicating a large payment by Microsoft to back the lawsuit.
Apple settled in June for an undisclosed amount and is now “licensing” its technology from Acacia to provide a desktop in its operating systems. How will this pan out for Linux companies? Something has to give.