Red Hat Makes History With Patent Settlement - Compatible with GPLv3

Filed under

You've probably been wondering why I've been quiet, when there is news about a patent settlement between Red Hat and Firestar and DataTern in the JBoss litigation. It's because I wanted to be positive I was correct that this is the first known settlement involving patents that is harmonious with GPLv3. It is.

It's also harmonious with GPLv2, of course, but this is history in the making, friends. They settled a lawsuit brought against them in a way that licenses patents without violating the GPL. I'll show you how, but first, so you know I'm not just dreaming, here's the answer I got from Richard Fontana, Open Source Licensing and Patent Counsel, Red Hat, to my question about whether this is the first known GPLv3 patent agreement that works:

Most patent settlements and similar agreements are confidential, but to my knowledge this is the first patent settlement that satisfies the requirements of GPL version 3. Indeed, it really goes further than GPLv3 in the degree to which upstream and downstream parties receive safety from the patents at issue here. (And this is not a case of trying to find a loophole in the GPL, but rather a desire on our part to reach an agreement that provided broad patent protection for developers, distributors and users, while complying fully with the conditions of the licenses of the software we and our community distribute.)

You know what this means?