With Red Hat on the verge of becoming the first billion-dollar company focused exclusively on open source software, it has attracted quite a bit of attention -- from lawyers waving patents.
Red Hat doesn't need a legal team as big as Microsoft's, but it does spend a lot of time in court, particularly in the Eastern District of Texas, a hotbed of patent lawsuits filed by what Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and others call "patent trolls."
Red Hat paid out $4.2 million in 2008 to settle a suit brought by FireStar Software, and more recently agreed to settlements with a so-called "non-practicing entity" -- a company that sues legitimate software vendors but doesn't produce any products of its own - called Acacia Research. Acacia bills itself as a "leader in patent licensing" and nearly all of its recent press releases focus on patent acquisitions and patent licensing agreements.
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