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Red Hat calls for patent truce

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Red Hat has called on Microsoft to promise publicly and in writing not to use software patents against users and individual developers of open source software.

"Let's leave customers out of this debate," Red Hat's deputy general counsel Mark Webbink told delegates at the LinuxWorld tradeshow in San Francisco.

"If Microsoft has intellectual property that needs to be respected, come to Red Hat, come to Novell, but leave our customers out of it. There is no cost to Microsoft for doing this and it would prove their sincerity."

Webbink asked for a similar promise towards developers, pointing out that there is little sense in going after individual developers because they cannot afford to pay large legal settlements or licence fees anyway.

Microsoft has said in the past that it does not have a problem with open source as a technology, but Webbink argued that a public statement would give that claim credibility.

Software patents are a major problem not just for open source but for software in general, according to Webbink.

While patents serve a purpose in other industries such as pharmaceuticals, they are only used to "tax competition" in software, preventing competitors from entering the market.

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