Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Patent on JSFUnit

... or more precisely, I/we patented one of the key technologies JSFUnit uses. About the same time I was starting the JSFUnit project, Red Hat's lawyers announced a push to get us to file software patents. I did so reluctantly because I think that in the end, software patents are a game that only the lawyers can win. But Red Hat has a good strategy when it comes to patents that I think ultimately benefits everyone. Read below for more on that.

So it took over three years to get it done. You can view the patent here if you want the gory details.

What does the patent say?
Basically, it just says that we keep the FacesContext alive after the request is done. Without JSFUnit, the JSF Lifecycle would throw it away. That lets us do assertions on the state of the system after each JSF request. If you've been using JSFUnit then you probably know all about that. It's what makes JSFUnit unique among testing tools.

What does the patent mean for JSFUnit users?
Nothing. The software is still open source. We're not looking to make money off of the patent.

Why did Red Hat want to patent this in the first place? Doesn't this go against Red Hat's philosophy of openness and freedom?
Yes and no. Red Hat doesn't really like software patents either. But we see them as a necessary evil until some laws are changed. As I understand it, the Red Hat Patent Promise says that anyone can use our patents for free as long as you don't file a patent case against us.

So long and thanks for all the fish,


*Disclaimer: I'm not an attorney. The above is my own understanding of this stuff. I'm not even qualified to write this disclaimer.

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