Very significant ruling; Open Source licence can take the heat of litigation! They are a valid licence in the U.S.!
Victoria Henson-Apollonio sent the above link – she wrote:

“Interesting tale on the side…. Owner of a patent on software for controlling model train (Katzer) holds that another person, a train model hobbyist (Jacobsen) is infringing one of his patents by distributing software (the Jacobsen developed) under an open source license.  Jacobsen hired an attorney, Victoria K. Hall, (through the Electronic Freedom Foundation; EFF; who then filed a declaratory judgment against Katzer in an effort to question the validity of the patent rights held by Katzer.

This then resulted in this court case which ended up in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on an appeal by Jacobsen of a ruling by a lower court, the US District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Along the way there were filings by Katzer’s attorney, Kevin Russell, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to have information disclosed from Jacobsen’s workplace, –which happens to be a U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.  This action then prompted Jacobsen to file a suit against Russell for defamation, as Jacobsen felt that Russell only filed his FOIA request to harass and embarrass Katzer.

In the meantime, Attorney Hall published several requests to the on-line software community, for help in finding prior art to use against the claims in Katzer’s patent.”

Background links to the above story: (April 20th, 2006 entry)

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