Friday, June 30, 2006

Red Hat, Lawsuits, and ... Rails? Oh, my!

The current lawsuit by FireStar Software (Bad litigant, no link for you.) against Red Hat over the use of Object Relational Mapping (ORM , or the ActiveRecord Pattern could spell trouble for Ruby on Rails.

The gist of the matter is that FireStar claims to have invented this technology, and holds a patent on it (Patent 6,101,502.). While their patent dates back to 1998, there is some significant question about prior art and obviousness. If this suit is upheld, the heart of Rails would become vulnerable to a similar suit by FireStar.

Even if the suit against Red Hat fails, how many other patent infringement lawsuits are lurking beneath the surface? The danger of software patents has been understood by many developers in the Free Software world, but it's time to work harder at getting the message out and pushing for a change.

If you haven't gotten involved already because you thought it wasn't worth the effort, it's time to ask yourself "How much is Rails worth to me?"


Sean said...

I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure the use of the Active Record pattern is not an example of a ORM. An ORM maps between the classes and properties of an object model and the tables and fields of a database. An Active Record provides a much thinner wrapper around the database, basically where the properties of the classes are defined by the database instead of mapped to the database.

Sean said...

Further conversation has convinced me that I am at least partly wrong. Even though AR implmentations I've used are fundamentally different from ORM implmentations I have used, in the semantic sense, AR does qualify as an ORM.