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16 March 2009, 13:37

Red Hat "defensive" patent has chilling effect

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Red Hat's application for a patent for an approach to routing messages over a middleware bus has disturbed some who are wondering why Red Hat didn't simply publish. If, as Red Hat claim, this is simply a defensive patent they could instead have published the proposal to establish prior art.

According to Kirk Wylie, a UK based consultant, Red Hat are claiming that this is a defensive patent which was filed for in 2007. Wylie says the problem is that because the XML routing embodied in the patent filing isn't a mandatory part for the implementation of AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol), many of the bigger players already have some sort of XML based routing and if they integrate with AMQP, they may be vulnerable to patent infringement claims.

Whether Red Hat would do this or not is an open question, but with a 17 year life span for a patent, it's hard to predict the future. Red Hat has, according to another report, said it will not enforce the patent against open source projects, in line with it's stated policy. Wylie says that a chilling effect has already started, saying he has been told that 0mq has already suspended its work integrating with AMQP, until the issue is resolved.


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