Red Hat has built a strong business around open source software. The network-attached storage provider is a strong believer in the open source software community and feels that software patents have a deleterious effect on the industry. In fact, the company is so confident in this viewpoint that it is willing to take that opinion to the highest court in the land.
Red Hat has filed a brief in a Supreme Court case that will likely have a large impact on the future of software patents. In an upcoming case, Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, the Court will determine “whether claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture – are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.”
In its brief, Red Hat was firm in its convictions, stating, "This case offers an opportunity to restore the historical and well-founded boundaries for patentable subject matter that exclude abstract ideas of the type generally involved in software from patent eligibility. This course correction will both bring clarity to the law and remove a significant barrier to technology innovation."
No matter the decision, the case will have wide-reaching ramifications in the software industry. Several justices have expressed concerns about the current state of patent litigation, stating that businesses can use their patents to squeeze out competitors, and declaring weak patents to be one of the drivers of high business costs.
The open source software community prides itself on innovation, which it believes is hindered by software patents. Of course, the software industry is one of the most frequent targets of patent trolls, and defeating those trolls is a priority of federal and state governments.
The cases in question will shape the future of patents and the software industry, so stay tuned to InsideCounsel for more coverage. In the meantime, check out the following IP news: