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

Definitions:

Approved License means any of the following licenses: GNU General Public License v2.0 and v3.0; GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 and v3.0, IBM Public License v1.0; Common Public License v1.0; Q Public License v1.0; Open Software License v3.0; and any open source license granted by Red Hat. 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.