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Red Hat CEO On Patent Trolls: Just Pay Them Off

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-this-cash-and-shove-it dept.

Patents 167

jbrodkin writes "Although Red Hat fights patent lawsuits when it deems it necessary, CEO Jim Whitehurst says it's often just better to pay the trolls to make them go away. 'When it's so little money, at some point, bluntly, it's better to settle than fight these things out,' Whitehurst said. Red Hat has been forced to pay out claims to the likes of FireStar Software and Acacia, and Whitehurst indicated Red Hat has paid off various other companies behind closed doors. 'Some of them are [public] but we often seal them in settlement,' he said."

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This is (4, Insightful)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041128)

The stupidest thing I have heard a CEO say in a long time. Welcome trolls, we'll pay you to shut the fuck up.

Re:This is (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041152)

His job is to maximize shareholder value. If that means settling for a lower price than the cost of pursuing a court case, that is what he is going to do.

Re:This is (5, Informative)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041174)

He just told trolls "Come and get it!", how is that maximizing value?

Re:This is (3, Interesting)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041284)

It's entirely possible that he, as the CEO, understands that his company is indeed in violation of these patents and sees this as a cheaper solution than trying to rewrite 200 years of law or fight a battle he knows he will lose.

I don't know for certain, of course. I'm no more privy to his thought process than you are.

Re:This is (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041440)

It's pretty much impossible to know that one is in violation of a software patent in a meaningful way, since most challenges don't revolve around "Our product doesn't come under those criteria", but instead go for "The patent is invalid and should never have been granted". The latter depends on subjective criteria like obviousness, which means going to court is a gamble every time - the policy to sometimes feed the trolls is probably just the product of a bit of statistical analysis on the outcomes of similar court cases.

Re:This is (4, Insightful)

increment1 (1722312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041458)

That is not the point that the original poster is referring to. What is being referred to is that if you pay off trolls, you probably shouldn't announce that you pay off trolls, or you will end up with more trolls coming at you.

This is why the comment by the CEO is being referred to as stupid, since saying something like this can only lead to more patent trolls and nothing positive for the company.

Re:This is (0)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041664)

Yeah, but if you pay the trolls, it might be a lot cheaper than the legal fees involved with a lawsuit...

I just couldn't help myself.

Re:This is (5, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041772)

This sort of thinking is what led to the lawsuit-crazy period in the '90s. People would find some 'standing' to sue, pretty much irregardless of merit. Then they'd offer to settle for some fraction of the court costs (like $500). The accountants did the make, figuring it'd cost $5k to win the court case, but only $500 to make them go away.

HOWEVER, if you get a reputation for paying off, you attract MORE trolls. This would be known as a 'second order effect'. IE if you don't have a rep for settling, you might get sued once a year. Get a rep for settling, and you might get 100.

1x $5k is cheaper than 100x $500.

So settling with a patent troll may be, on first glance, cheaper. But if it results in more patent trolls threatening to sue you, the overall expense can actually flip.

It's this sort of reasoning behind why Walmart and a number of other companies will fight ANY settlement tooth and nail. It's to have a tough-guy rep to prevent others from suing in the first place.

Re:This is (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042414)

"This sort of thinking is what led to the lawsuit-crazy period in the '90s. "

Huh?? Do you have some evidence that lawsuits were more prevalent in the '90s as opposed to the '80s or '00s?

Re:This is (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042432)

"This sort of thinking is what led to the lawsuit-crazy period in the '90s. " Huh?? Do you have some evidence that lawsuits were more prevalent in the '90s as opposed to the '80s or '00s?

It led to the beginning of it in the '90s. The period itself has not ended.

Re:This is (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041670)

Well... yes and no. It can lead to patent violation claims. The "troll" designation is just an attempt to frame the debate (which clearly both sides are guilty of doing.)

I know I'm on the wrong site trying to evaluate this objectively, so I won't really go any further.

Re:This is (1)

grantek (979387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041712)

This is why the comment by the CEO is being referred to as stupid, since saying something like this can only lead to more patent trolls and nothing positive for the company.

Unless the REAL strategy is to patent-troll-troll, whereby the most profitable strategy is to attract trolls, get sued by them, then win and counter-sue for damages :)

Re:This is (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042918)

IIRC this is precisely why IBM doesn't settle patent suits ever. If they want their money they're going to have to prove in court that they have the goods. Granted, IBM has a huge patent portfolio and deep pockets, whereas Redhat is much less safe, but by publicly stating that they generally just pay all that's going to do is make them an even more attractive target.

This is sort of like why the US typically doesn't negotiate with terrorists or pay ransom demands we really don't want to give those sorts of people the impression that we'll give in.

Re:This is (3, Interesting)

d'fim (132296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041720)

He just told trolls "Come and get it!", how is that maximizing value?

It isn't.

The strategy was smart; announcing it to the world was stupid.

Re:This is (1)

JumpDrive (1437895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042732)

no announcing it to the world was smart. It is the first step in ending this crap.

It tells more people what the heck is going on.

Along with patent trolls there are copyright trolls and the first step to bringing it to an end is to start telling the general public about it. He has the lawyers. If he gets a bunch of patent trolls it will make for a bigger and better article the next time.

The ones who are trolling already know that companies such as Red Hat are fair game. It's not news to them. But apparently it is news to people like you.

So your answer is to stay in a dark corner and hope they don't find you? Once they have found you , the best course of action is to start telling people as loudly and as often as you can.

As for maximizing value, he has probably realized that they are continually opening up and sucking the companies blood. You can continue to bleed or look for help. The legal system is for shit in this situation, so you have to start looking for other solutions.

Re:This is (3, Insightful)

eviljolly (411836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041796)

I have to agree. This is something you are supposed to think, but not say. Once you lose your intimidation factor, more people are likely to attack.

The trolls will come anyway (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042386)

he's just letting them know it's not worth litigating, because he'll settle for reasonable amount. These are all businessmen...

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041194)

Yes, but how does advertising that they're handing out money fit into that plan?

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041204)

Until every patent troll realizes he's just admitted he's an easy target, and instead of a few dozen lawsuits against redhat there's thousands...

Re:This is (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041236)

That only works the first few times. Once you become known as an ATM, the trolls will form a long line.

Re:known (0)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041436)

He seems to be missing he other strategy.

Microsoft is funding some of these trolls so that the plaintiff name isn't Microsoft. Then they can sue for "infringing linux code" in attempts to shut down entire business models.

Really, this article is so retro.

Al Capone left a voice mail. He wants his blackmail money.

Web 3.0 and 4.0 will be some mix of invasive super-monitoring vs. privacy and IP-rights rebellion. All that remains is which mix plays out in what order before the Media (capital M) catches the wave.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041506)

That only works the first few times. Once you become known as an ATM, the trolls will form a long line.

"And then there will be an unfortunate 'accident' that befalls all of them. Bwaaa haaa haaa haaaa haa haaaaaaaaa". - Jim Whitehurst

Re:This is (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042174)

At least until the company fires its CEO or its Consigliere.

Both of whom, in this case, probably deserve a long, hard look from the board.

Re:This is (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041260)

Patent trolls like easy targets, As the CEO he has just announced that he will bend over for any patent troll as long as they aren't to greedy and only ram their fist in up to the elbow. Their is no possible way this can be explained as maximising value as every patent troll will now have Redhat at the top of their lists for viable targets as potential cash cow.

Re:This is (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041466)

Maybe he's actually got a conscience, and this is his way of forcing his shareholders hand(s) into letting him start throwing Redhat's weight around in the general direction of patent trolls. If he becomes an 'easy target' he'll have to start fighting every case.
Also, it's really hard for shareholders to actually go after the board for not making them maximum money.

Finally, who are Redhat's main shareholders? maybe they're people who would rather see their investment not do so well in exchange for beating the trolls up a bit.

It's a pyramid scheme (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041852)

I'd imagine he'd happily attract the trolls early to negotiate a pyramid scheme settlement, i.e. ReadHat will publicly pay but RedHat takes a cut from any future settlements by other victims.

Re:This is (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041304)

His job is to maximize shareholder value.

Paying out extortion money, which guarantees that there will be more extortion demands in the future, does absolutely nothing to maximize shareholder value. Also, what amount of dividends does Redhat pay to it's stockholders? Answer -- zero. So much for "shareholder value".

Re:This is (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041356)

The job of a CEO these days is to maximize profits *while he's CEO*. People seem to have completely lost sight of any long term vision.

Re:This is (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041414)

He may not be CEO for very long if he makes a habit of making announcements like this.

Re:This is (2)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041964)

The job of a CEO these days is to maximize HIS PERSONAL profits *while he's CEO*. People seem to have completely lost sight of any long term vision. FTFY

Re:This is (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042644)

Unlike individual contributors, who work for free because it's the "right thing to do", and who exhibit amazing long-term planning?

Re:This is (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041692)

It helps them out by creating another barrier to entry. If Red Hat is "infringing" on a patent, then so is every other linux distro and everybody using linux. But not everyone has the money to pay them off. If using CentOS makes you a target for patent troll lawsuits but Red Hat grants you immunity, Red Hat gets the sale.

Re:This is (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041342)

Yes, but you don't say it out loud. Personally I think Spotify is worth double the monthly amount. Ooooooops....

Re:This is (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041350)

Sure, and in the process he opens up his company and others for more trolling, meanwhile fattening the troll's war chest. Just like it's cheaper to pay off Guido instead of having him and his pal Vinnie come over to bust up your warehouse. In both cases, paying up might be the prudent choice, but it's still sad that these bullies get away with it.

Re:This is (1)

Red Storm (4772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041442)

>His job is to maximize shareholder value. If that means settling for a lower price than the cost of pursuing a court case, that is what he is going to do.

f I had the points I'd mod your post up. :-)

You actually understand what is going on better than most people responding to this thread. It comes down to simple economics. If you can pay someone to shut up (and perhaps get a license for Open Source in general) for a fraction of what it would cost to have your legal team peruse it then it makes more sense to pay them the hush money than waste your legal team's efforts. In addition if you loose on a small fry the potential ramifications are huge as they ripple through the rest of of the patent system, which in part is built upon previous cases. Rather it makes much more sense to be strategic in dealing with those who are trolling.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041748)

Yeah, the actual method is a good strategy, but I would not *ANNOUNCE* the strategy. The statement only encourages more trolls. Good rule of thumb, "STFU. Profit. STFU. Profit. STFU. Profit." Not "Tell the world. Fork out more cash to trolls. Tell the world. Fork out more cash to trolls."

I'm gonna have to patent me some software that they may infringe in the future and then stick it to them and get my corporate welfare check from them.

Re:This is (2)

JonJ (907502) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042242)

Yeah, the actual method is a good strategy, but I would not *ANNOUNCE* the strategy

Yes, this is clearly something the patent trolls wouldn't find out unless he told them.

Re:This is (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041472)

Heh... That's opposite thinking. When you "settle" with these jokers, it's typically a friggin' dogpile on you over time- they know you'll pay out so they'll come with their hands out and threatening to sue them. LOTS of them.

Hardly "maximizing shareholder value", now is it?

Re:This is (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041614)

Paying trolls to go away may or may not be a wise strategy (personally, I'd be against it--once you've paid him the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane). *Announcing to the world* that you'll pay trolls to go away is beyond stupid.

Re:This is (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041702)

Makes you wonder what SEAL Team 6 would charge to neutralize a patent troll case. I'm seriously surprised that people have not just disappeared over some of this silly bullshit.

Re:This is (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041816)

You don't maximise shareholder value by announcing to the world that anyone with a patent should go after your company, since you'll just pay them off. It's like handing out free money.

Paying them off is fine. Announcing to the world that you do so, that's not so smart.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36042396)

His job is to maximize shareholder value. If that means settling for a lower price than the cost of pursuing a court case, that is what he is going to do.

And he can expect the next proxy vote from THIS shareholder to be against him and any board member I find supporting him. That is not how I want my share value maximized.

Re:This is (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042504)

He's thinking with a short time horizon, as most bad CEOs do. In the long run, having every patent troll know they will go bankrupt fighting you in court will reduce your long-run costs to zero.

Re:This is (1)

jimpop (27817) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041220)

Exactly! That same strategy failed with other leeches, like panhandlers.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041252)

Yup. The fact that it's good policy is the unfortunate fallout of a broken legal system. But you don't advertise the policy. What are the first and second rules again? DON'T TALK ABOUT IT.

Re:This is (1)

biek (1946790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041274)

You gotta pay the troll toll

Re:This is (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041358)

As much as we might like this guy to play the role of Don Quixote, it just doesn't work out that way in real life.

That's why we need guys like RMS.

Re:This is (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041428)

It's not necessarily stupid for this to be their policy.

It may be stupid for them to admit this policy, if the main result is that patent trolls crawl out of the woodwork.

However, it may not be stupid for them to admit this policy, if the main result is for the shareholders to direct them to no longer follow this policy even if the consequence is lower short-term profits. Or perhaps for them to direct "stop sealing the documents when you do this, so we can evaluate the choices made".

It also may not be stupid if the main result is for policymakers and courts to be more aware of the problem than they had been, and "fix" it (the way Righthaven has been getting fixed).

Re:This is (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041454)

All you're doing is paying economic terrorists off. You'll never be rid of them unless you deep-six them. I'd have thought the SCOX debacle would've taught them that lesson- but apparently not.

Please be more specific Whitehurst (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041484)

Jim Whitehurst, please give details. What is your cut-off point below which, if I were to make a merit-less claim, that you would just pay me to go away rather than bother to involve the lawyers?

Re:Please be more specific Whitehurst (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042006)

I'd like to know too. I need a new car and want to know if I should ask them a Ford or a BMW worth of a claim.

Re:This is (3, Informative)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041542)

Only to those cases where there's a a hint of honest IP defense. Standard troll crap gets fought (and presumably thrown out). I quote:

"When we feel like people are really abusing the patent regimen, and we have a good case that the patent is invalid, that it should never have been issued, it's not a patentable thing, or there's a lot of prior art, then we fight those out," Whitehurst said during an interview with Network World at this week's Red Hat Summit in Boston.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041620)

Welcome trolls, we'll pay you to shut the fuck up.

Damn straight you FLOSS FAGS! Bwwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Linux is just crap made by a bunch of neo-hippie-commie-smelly-anti-capitalist-whiny-long-haired-Richard_Dryfus_sounding-hi-IQ-losers!

Ha!

Now I want my Money!!!!!! NOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!!!

Wait? I need a patent?!?

Shit.

Never mind.

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041750)

Exactly, he just doomed his company.

Re:This is (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041882)

Hey, if he wants to pay trolls, how about offering to pay every time a small independent open source programmer gets trolled? It's so little money, RH should offer to protect the entire OS community!

Re:This is (1)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041950)

>The stupidest thing I have heard a CEO say in a long time. Welcome trolls, we'll pay you to shut the fuck up.

It does seem that way. For the sake of wondering about it, let's pretend he knew what he was saying and said it on purpose. Could there come any benefit from telling the truth like this?

Re:This is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36042126)

For the sake of wondering about it, let's pretend he knew what he was saying and said it on purpose. Could there come any benefit from telling the truth like this?

Yeah: if he wants to change that policy while having pressure on him not to, this is the way to go.

Re:This the god king (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36042204)

What happens if you kill everyone who could possibly have a portion of the patent? These trolls usually don't have a lot of employees, just turn them into meat paste.

Is this the elusive Step 2? (5, Funny)

joebok (457904) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041154)

Phase 1: Collect Underpants
Phase 2: Sue Red Hat for an amount not too big, but not too small and get paid to shut up and go away.
Phase 3: Profit

Re:Is this the elusive Step 2? (1)

wen (35796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041716)

You forgot

Goto Phase 1.

Danegeld, anyone? (2)

gmfeier (1474997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041164)

Didn't work then, doesn't work now.

Re:Danegeld, anyone? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041486)

No... Whence you pay the Dane his Danegeld, he keeps coming back for more.

The real harm's individuals and SMEs (5, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041166)

The discussion of software patents focusses way too much on court cases and big companies.

Companies have all sorts of expenses, and trolls is another. Some companies (particularly big ones) can afford that.

The real harm is when standards are ruined, or whole fiels (ex: video), or when SMEs and small developers are forced to stop distributing their software (or when they don't even start, since they know it would be doomed).

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/More_than_trolls [swpat.org]

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Harm_to_standards_and_compatibility [swpat.org]

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Audio-video_patents [swpat.org]

The solution is to kill them off! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36042248)

Don't pay the trolls. Hire a hitman to dispose of them.

It's cheaper, and it benefits everyone!

[Note: this post is sarcasm. Mostly.]

This reminds me (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041168)

Red Hat totally stole my patent on uh paying off patent trolls.

I'll be taking my check now please.

Rudyard Kipling (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041172)

We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!

How do you get this stupid? (1, Informative)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041188)

Seriously. Does he really not understand that paying the troll only serves to perpetuate the troll and results in everyone having to continually pay out extortion settlements.

WTF?

Re:How do you get this stupid? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041288)

I think the point here is that the system is broken, and companies are doing the best they can to live with this harsh reality. How would it be in their best interest to fight everything, no matter what the cost? If it's your job to make money, and feeding the trolls is the lesser of two evils, then you prepare the sacrificial goats and move on with business.

Re:How do you get this stupid? (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041388)

Yes, but as I have said above you don't advertise it

Re:How do you get this stupid? (1)

Logger (9214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041508)

But once you are a successful company, the troll tax also serves to inhibit startup competitors. There's only one thing corporations hate worse than competition. And that's new competition. Unfortunately the ones who would benefit the most from real patent reform are small independent entrepreneurs and the public at large, and they are unorganized.

Leeches (1)

MMAfrk19BB (2029982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041218)

It's things like this that make legislation against litigious fucks vital to the continued survival of the FOSS community. Maybe if it wasn't such an incredible investment for the soulless bloodsuckers at these low-rent law firms and companies to parasitically claim the work of others while not contributing anything, they wouldn't do it so often. I would be willing to bet that some of the lawyers involved even approach their clients with a "No charge unless we win the case or settle" type of agreement. It's becoming a viable business model, and that has to stop if we want to keep FOSS alive.

Oh, Come On! (2)

jaskelling (1927116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041224)

Or, you could actually have a spine and stand up for what's right. This is the same as companies that determine how much it costs to fix a product versus how much it costs to pay damages to the people it can injure. It's "good" business, but it's cowardly and only hurts everyone in the long run. And someday, it will come back to bite you in the ass. But hey, whatever works for you I guess.

Re:Oh, Come On! (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041332)

There is choosing one's battles, to keep a company going versus going down like mp3.com.

On one side, there is paying off a troll.

The other side is if a troll managed to get a judge (likely in East Texas) to issue an injunction that no products can be sold, that will cause major revenue loss, even if the case has no merit. Same if the troll got the export regulators to prohibit export/import of the product.

It is a game of poker. How good is the troll's law firm, and how valid their patents would be in the eyes of nontechnical judges are all points of decision of when a company should fold and pay the troll off, versus digging in and doing battle.

It is really a lose/lose thing for RedHat. If they lose the battle, they might go bankrupt. If they win against a patent troll, they gain nada.

Re:Oh, Come On! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041944)

If they win against a patent troll, they gain nada.

It's actually even worse than that, because even if they win, they'll most likely still be on the hook for their own attorneys' fees.

If you give a mouse a cookie...... (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041240)

I understand the fact that sometimes it's much less costly just to pay to have something go away, but patent trolls thrive on anything that validates them. I believe they'll just ask for more from someone else along the way

DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041264)

Red Hat is a billion dollar company...

just business (2)

Adayse (1983650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041374)

so he says that sometimes you should just settle so that when he fights he seems more reasonable..

That's why they exist in the first place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041394)

Patent trolls would not exist if it were cheaper to litigate than settle. The only way to get rid of the trolls is to change the economics behind trolling. It's hardly surprising, given the system in place now, that people choose to pay them off.

Re:That's why they exist in the first place (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042454)

You're assuming all patent trolls have frivolous claims. A patent troll is someone who just basically bought the right to sue from the patentholder. The original claim might be valid.

Re:That's why they exist in the first place (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042532)

I, and I think most people, don't consider a company holding a valid claim to be a troll. To be a troll requires that the claim be frivolous by definition.

The longstanding wisdom of the net applies here: (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041450)

Don't feed the trolls.

4Chan Lawyers (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041518)

Hasn't he learned not the feed the trolls? I figure if you ignore their existence long enough they'll get bored and go away. And by ignore their existence I mean flat out ignore that they're suing you.

Re:4Chan Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36042356)

Hasn't he learned not the feed the trolls? I figure if you ignore their existence long enough they'll get bored and go away. And by ignore their existence I mean flat out ignore that they're suing you.

Welcome to the terrifying world of IRL. Your analogy falls apart when you can manipulate the legal system into your troll scheme. Judges and lawyers tend to not quite get bored as easily when you decide to ignore legal documents and court dates, and they tend to have the authority to tell other people to make your life hell if you keep ignoring them.

A better analogy would be if someone decided to troll you by beating you over the head with a never-ending supply of 2X4s and the complicity of the police. Sure, you can ignore it and hope he gets bored, but once he cracks through your skull and starts splattering brain matter around, the courts give him all your money and stuff. Profit! On to the next!

Change legal system: loser pays all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041530)

And so the asshole funds the patent troll, so it continues to stay in business to bother others.
And really, we should change our legal system such that the losing party pays all costs. Right now, a patent troll can simply ask for some amount of money, slightly less than it would cost the legit company to win the case, and it'll get its cut. We can't let this situation persist.

Re:Change legal system: loser pays all (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041590)

And really, we should change our legal system such that the losing party pays all costs.

Sure. Right On!!

Because in every legal case the person who is right always wins and evil scumbags with lots of money always lose.

Brilliant. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041540)

Overheard in office at PatentTrolls Inc:

TrollA: "Looks like Microsoft is kinda sorta infringing on one of our innovative patents haha!"
TrollB: "Yeah, but they got lots of cash and rabid lawyers. And a reputation of fighting back."
TrollA: "And Google..."
TrollB: "Those are even worse."
TrollA: "Well, there's always Redhat for a quicky"
TrollB: "Yeah, let's do Redhat. Also known as Open Legs, hahah!"

He did say they'd fight frivolous patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041558)

He didn't say they'd pay up for any patent troll that comes a-knocking. He said they'd fight frivolous patents. From TFA:
"When we feel like people are really abusing the patent regimen, and we have a good case that the patent is invalid, that it should never have been issued, it's not a patentable thing, or there's a lot of prior art, then we fight those out," Whitehurst said ... [snip]

But if it's a "good" patent (I guess meaning one that's hard to defend against), they'd rather just settle for cheap because they know fighting it would be a long, costly battle that they'd probably lose. I think it shows that he's smart enough to know which battles to fight to keep RHEL going in the long run.

So Redhat (1)

imric (6240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041606)

has a policy of making deals with (economic) terrorists.

Great.

You feed the trolls? More than a company problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041632)

You've got to be kidding.

A) feeding trolls breeds more trolls
B) there are an awful lot of people out there who have *NO* money, but that get hassled by patent trolls when they release software for free. Yes, even people that aren't in business get hassled. What are they supposed to do?

Skeptical it's that bad? Here's an example [wikipedia.org] . The company basically had a patent on the mathematical transformation and reprojection of camera images -- a process that has been used for over a century (photogrammetry).

What the RedHat CEO describes may make good business sense, but it does the community no good at all to keep feeding a software patent system that is bogus in the first place. People are patenting *math* for money. He damn well better be putting some money into fixing the bigger problem rather than just paying off the trolls, or he's eventually going to run out of money as they proliferate.

Pay me 1 billion dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041698)

Rudyard Kipling said it best (4, Insightful)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041730)

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
    And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Re:Rudyard Kipling said it best (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042892)

That was a fairly round-about way of saying "We don't negotiate with terrorists."

A Legal System That Supports Blackmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041736)

For the high cost of seeking justice in the United States we have a legal system that is a conspirator in blackmail. It aids and abetts blackmailers, instead of prosecuting to discourage them.

The problem is not confined to patents of legitimately unpatentable common intellectual, not physical, concepts, "patentable" in fact only for computers and literary expression typed in computer language code confusing courts.

The problem of legal blackmail, legal costs causing innocents to pay instead of apply for justice, and so become blackmail victims for an economic decision, discarding principles being the affordable, and so pragmatic, option, arises across the spectrum.

It is probably most common in traffic court and traffic matters, and is not uncommon where government regulators impose administrative rules. In both cases the benefiting blackmailers are public authorities, and the result, where the victims opt to submit to the blackmail, is government blackmailing, instead of protecting, the people.

Having government policing agencies and agents enforcing unenforceable policies, ineptly, incompetently and pointlessly is apparently part of governmental blackmailers and their judiciary branch co-conspirators' defined modus operandi. For that it is permitted and condoned.

Having any publicly paid enforcers employed attempting to do anything about the problem, or to discourage the real crime and criminal activity of the practice, appears to be beyond Federal competence. Probably for being outside government officials' and the judiciary branch members' invested self-interests.

nt (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36041762)

Paying a patent troll to go away is like paying a ransom to kidnappers.

All it does is ring the dinner bell and attract more sharks.

Kipling: Dane-geld (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041864)

Dane-Geld
A.D. 980-1016
Rudyard Kipling

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
    And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!"

======
Danegeld [wikipedia.org]
Rudyard Kipling [wikipedia.org]

Yes this is probably a blatant copyvio so here's a link to the poem in case the Scientologists decide Kipling was one of them:

"Dane Geld" [poetryloverspage.com] by Rudyard Kipling

Release in India (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041908)

India has no software patents.

RedHat is Part of the Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36041914)

It's often better to just pay off the kidnappers and terrorists because we know that they'll never do that to anyone else anyway and they'll take their money and go live honest lives. That sounds about as idiotic. Just say no to Redhat if they're going to be part of the problem. Paying the trolls enables them to continue their blackmail against us all.

Attn: Redhat (1)

loxosceles (580563) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042044)

Mr. Whitehurst, CEO, Redhat, Inc:

You are infringing on my client's patent 2938562906716 relating to a method by which CEOs can maximize shareholder value by settling frivolous patent lawsuits for less than the cost of a full legal defense.

We are prepared prepared to defend our patent all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

My client wishes to advise you that in order to settle this lawsuit, you will have to pay an additional $500,000 in royalties for using his patent.

I trust we will be receiving a check from you soon.

Yours,
Slimy Lawyer, Esq.

I use the same thing with homeless people (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042518)

I figure, it's only a dollar, it's not much.

But then, the next day, dude was there, begging for money again.

So what the hell, i give him another dollar.

Now he's camped out on my door, asking for money every time i go out.

When will it stop?

(for the record, I don't give homeless shit. This is why you don't give homeless money, nor do you give trolls.)

Possible GPL Violation? (2)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36042558)

My understanding is that the GPL carries with it patent licenses. Red Hat can't license patents for just its own customers.

Reading section 11 of GPLv3 and section 7 of GPLv2 it seems fairly clear that unless Red Hat is licensing for all downstream recipients (which would essentially mean the entire GPL ecosystem, as anyone who wants a particular patent license would just have to make a derivative from the Red Hat code) they can't distribute.

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