Linux outfit Red Hat has filed a petition in the US Supreme Court seeking to outlaw software patents.
Red Hat, which modestly describes itself as the world’s leading provider of open source software and related services to enterprise customers. says the practice of registering software patents ‘stifles the industry and leaves developers open to exploitation’.
"Red Hat continues its commitment to the free and open-source software community by taking a strong position against bad software patents," says Red Hat veep Rob Tiller. "Our patent system is supposed to foster innovation but, for open source and software in general, it does the opposite."
“Software patents form a minefield that slows and discourages software innovation. The Bilski case [which attempted to patent a business practice] presents a great opportunity for the Supreme Court to rectify this problem.
"The scope of patentable subject matter is an issue of critical importance to the future development of all software, including open source," says the company.
Red Hat accuses what it describes as ‘patent trolls’ of exploiting the legal system and of filing lawsuits that seek to exploit what it describes as the confusion resulting from hundreds of thousands of vague and nebulous technology patents for financial gain.