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A jury in Texas has ruled against Google in a patent suit concerning the Linux kernel and ordered the company to pay $US5 million in damages to Bedrock Computer Technologies which filed the suit in June 2009.


Apart from Google, Softlayer Technologies, CitiWare Technology Solutions, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon.com, PayPal, Match.com, AOL and the CME Group were named as defendants.

In the suit, various versions of the kernel, from the 2.4.22.x tree to version 2.6.31.x or versions beyond were named as allegedly infringing the patent in question.

Bedrock's suit concerned US Patent 5,893,120 on "methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data".

IP activist Florian Mueller said some of the other defendants were "small entities based in Eastern Texas who may have been named primarily for the purpose of keeping the entire case in that particular court district. It appears that the allegations against Google were the first ones in this suit to go to on trial."

Mueller, who analysed the verdict on his blog, added: :The problem is that Bedrock is now in a pretty strong position to collect royalties from other Linux users, especially those utilizing (sic) Linux for large server operations."

Google claimed in its defence that the patent was invalid. Red Hat has also attempted to get the patent invalidated as several of the defendants are among its customers but failed.

 

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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