A patent suit has been filed against Red Hat and Novell, both of whom distribute Linux.
The suit, filed in a Texas state court by intellectual property firm IP Innovation LLC, claims that the Linux vendors infringe U.S. Patent No. 5,072,412. The patent describes a “User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects.” and issued back in 1991.
Both companies have indemnification programs designed to protect customers from the threat of patent-related litigation. Nevertheless, the lawsuit represents the first time that Linux has been tested in court over patent infringement.
The patent was originally granted to Xerox in 1991 and since sold to IP Innovation. IP Innovation is apparently a subsidiary of Acacia, a firm that has brought over 213 different patent lawsuits via different subsidiaries.
There is speculation that the troll has some relationship to Microsoft, since Brad Brunell, Microsoft’s former general manager of intellectual property licensing, joined the management team at Acacia recently, and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has recently repeated claims that Linux uses Microsoft’s intellectual property.