Novell Inc. and Red Hat Inc. were both sued for patent infringement, which was regarded as landmark trial by media reports Sunday.
As two leading Linux distributors, Novell of Waltham and Red Hat of Raleigh, N.C., were sued on Tuesday by Technology Licensing Corporation and IP Innovation.
Technology Licensing Corporation is a Nevada Corporation and IP Innovation LLC is a Texas liability company. IP Innovation is a business unit of Acacia Research Corp. of Newport Beach, Calif., specializing in acquiring patents issued to other companies and collecting royalties for the use of these patents.
The plaintiffs alleged Red Hat and Novell have infringed its patents in Red Hat Linux system, the Novell SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop) and the Novell SLES (SUSE Linux Enterprise Server). Specifically, at question is U.S. Patent No. 5,072,412 for a User Interface with Multiple Workspaces for Sharing Display System Objects issued Dec. 10, 1991 along with two other similar patents. They sought damages and a permanent injunction prohibiting any further infringement.
The patent was originally held by Xerox PARC and describes a way to create a window with controls that enables users to switch between views of multiple objects within that window.
Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day said Friday only that the company is aware of the suit and "will review the situation." Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said the company is assessing the suit and that "it's too early to tell, tactically, whether it makes sense for us and Red Hat to join forces."
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.
Linux is "open source" software, created by legions of volunteer programmers. For years, traditional software vendors, including Microsoft Corp., have claimed that some Linux code has been illegally copied from commercial software products and that Linux uses patented innovations without paying royalties.