Rob Tiller is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, IP for Red Hat, Inc., the world's leading provider of open source technology to enterprise customers, where he manages patent, trademark, and copyright matters relating to open source software. On behalf of Red Hat, he submitted an amicus brief to the Federal Circuit in the In re Bilski.
Before coming to Red Hat, he was a partner with the law firm of Helms, Mulliss & Wicker, PLLC, where he specialized in commercial and IP litigation. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, and a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Stephen Williams of the D.C. Circuit.
This talk will cover the legal issues raised by patent law for free and open source developers and users. It will provide a short overview suitable for non-lawyers on exclusionary patent rights and contrast those with the open collaboration culture of FOSS. It will discuss the substantial changes in the scope of patentable subject matter beginning in the 1990s, when software patents began to rapidly expand. It will explore the challenge this created for FOSS developers, including the difficulties of clearing patents and the risk of patent litigation.
Finally, it will discuss the recent Bilski decision of the Federal Circuit, and how that decision might improve the current problem of software patents. It will touch on various possibilities for patent reform that could affect FOSS developers.