Novell and Red Hat prevail in user-interface patent case

Two open-source-software companies successfully thwart a patent infringement case

A U.S. federal jury found last Friday that Novell and Red Hat were not guilty of infringing on user interface patents held by IP Innovation LLC.

IP Innovation LLC, a Northbrook, Ill.-based subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation and Technology Licensing Corporation, brought the suit against the two companies in 2007, claiming that they had infringed on three patents.

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The patents, chiefly U.S. Patent No. 5,072,412, issued in 1991, described technologies for sharing workspaces across different computers.

According to the complaint, the Red Hat Linux system, the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop and the Novell Suse Linux Enterprise Server all used aspects of this technology.

However, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, found that IP Innovation did not provide sufficient evidence to support this claim, and returned a verdict in favor of Novell and Red Hat.

"The jury knocked out three invalid patents that were masquerading as new and important inventions, when they were not," said Michael Cunningham, Red Hat executive vice president, in a statement.

An attorney for IP Innovation LLC was not immediately available for comment.

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