Linux falls to patent troll

A Texas jury has ruled that the Linux kernel infringes a patent troll’s technology and that Google should pay the outfit $5 million.

Bedrock Computer Technologies looks set to use the ruling to bring down some big names in the Linux community including Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL .

The suit is for violation of Patent 5,893,120, detailing “methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data.”

While Google could easily write a cheque to make the case go away, the fact that it is the Linux kernel which is in breach of the patent could deck the entire open sauce movement.

It means that many people using Linux will have to pay up for technology which they thought was Open Sauce.

It is not clear how this will effect Google’s Android mobile operating system which is fast taking the world by storm.

Google attempted to declare the patent invalid along with Linux software maker Red Hat. However in Texas, the jury disagreed.

The search engine sighed but said that it would continue to defend against attacks like this one on the open-source community.

Google pointed out that there had been an explosion in patent litigation is turning the world’s information highway into a toll road, forcing companies to spend millions and millions of dollars defending old, questionable patent claims, and wasting resources that would be much better spent investing in new technologies for users and creating jobs.

Given that a lot of these patent claims seem to be from proprietary companies trying to defend their busienss model against open sauce, it looks like there will be a lot more of such cases to come.