Official position of RedHat regarding software patents

Alexandre Dulaunoy alex at
Wed May 29 14:00:38 UTC 2002

Red Hat, Inc.
Statement of Position and Our Promise on Software Patents
Our Position on Software Patents

Red Hat has consistently taken the position that software patents
generally impede innovation in software development and that software
patents are inconsistent with open source/free software. Red Hat
representatives have addressed this issue before the National Academies of
Science, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the U.S. Department of
Justice. Red Hat is also a signatory to a petition to the European Union
encouraging the EU not to adopt a policy of permitting software patents.
We will continue to work to promote this position and are pleased to join
our colleagues in the open source/free software community, as well as
those proprietary vendors which have publicly stated their opposition to
software patents, in that effort.

At the same time, we are forced to live in the world as it is, and that
world currently permits software patents. A relatively small number of
very large companies have amassed large numbers of software patents. We
believe such massive software patent portfolios are ripe for misuse
because of the questionable nature of many software patents generally and
because of the high cost of patent litigation.

One defense against such misuse is to develop a corresponding portfolio of
software patents for defensive purposes. Many software companies, both
open source and proprietary, pursue this strategy. In the interests of our
company and in an attempt to protect and promote the open source
community, Red Hat has elected to adopt this same stance. We do so
reluctantly because of the perceived inconsistency with our stance against
software patents; however, prudence dictates this position.

At the same time, Red Hat will continue to maintain its position as an
open source leader and dedicated participant in open source collaboration
by extending the promise set forth below.
Our Promise with Respect to Software Patents We Hold


Approved License means any of the following licenses: GNU General Public
License v2.0; IBM Public License v1.0; Common Public License v0.5; Q
Public License v1.0; and any Red Hat open source license. Red Hat may add
to this list in its sole discretion by publication on this page.

Open Source/Free Software means any software which is licensed under an
Approved License.

Patent Rights means any of the rights to make, use sell, offer to sell,
import or otherwise transfer software, in either source code or object
code form.
Red Hat means Red Hat, Inc.

Our Promise:

Subject to any qualifications or limitations stated herein, to the extent
any party exercises a Patent Right with respect to Open Source/Free
Software which reads on any claim of any patent held by Red Hat, Red Hat
agrees to refrain from enforcing the infringed patent against such party
for such exercise ("Our Promise"). Our Promise does not extend to any
software which is not Open Source/Free Software, and any party exercising
a Patent Right with respect to non-Open Source/Free Software which reads
on any claims of any patent held by Red Hat must obtain a license for the
exercise of such rights from Red Hat. Our Promise does not extend to any
party who institutes patent litigation against Red Hat with respect to a
patent applicable to software (including a cross-claim or counterclaim to
a lawsuit). No hardware per se is licensed hereunder.

Each party relying on Our Promise acknowledges that Our Promise is not an
assurance that Red Hat's patents are enforceable or that the exercise of
rights under Red Hat's patents does not infringe the patent or other
intellectual property rights of any other entity. Red Hat disclaims any
liability to any party relying on Our Promise for claims brought by any
other entity based on infringement of intellectual property rights or
otherwise. As a condition to exercising the Patent Rights permitted by Our
Promise hereunder, each relying party hereby assumes sole responsibility
to secure any other intellectual property rights needed, if any.

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