VMware's GPL violation case rolls into German court

Hamburg Court allows proceedings after considering kernel dev Christoph Hellwig's right to action


Proceedings have begun in the German case probing whether VMware's ESXi is in violation of the Gnu Public Licence

The case emerged last March, when ace kernel developer Christoph Hellwig alleged that ESXi hypervisor has pinched parts of the code he wrote for the Linux kernel. That's a big no-no under version 2 of the GPL.

So off to court the matter went, but not without incident. In preliminary filings, VMware argued that Hellwig has no right to bring the case. Hellwig countered that his extensive contributions to the kernel mean he's as good a person as anyone to make a claim.

The case also emerged as a drain on the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), which claimed that the matter had seen its funding pulled and invitations to conferences dry up.

The matter made it to Hamburg's District Court last week where, thanks to a blog post by free software advocate Harald Welte, we know that the presiding judge displayed a basic knowledge of the issues, found no jurisdictional issues to derail the case but closely considered whether the fact Hellwig's contributions to the Linux kernel represent a fraction of its whole The judge came away validating Hellwig's right to bring the action and the SFC's role in supporting the lawsuit.

The SFC appears to be relying on Welte's post in its own missive on the hearing. That SFC post noted that “First of all, in great contrast to the cases here in the USA, the Court acknowledged fully the level of public interest and importance of the case.”

The SFC's Bradley M Kuhn looks forward to the case unfurling, writing that “At this point in the VMware case, nothing has been decided; this is just the next step forward in a long process. We enforced here in the USA for almost five years, we've been in litigation in Germany for about one year, and the earliest the Germany case can possibly resolve is this May.”

A May resolution is a very optimistic outcome, as the court gave VMware and Hellwig until April 15th to submit further arguments. May 16th has been set as a day for a decision to be delivered, but only if the court feels it has all the information it needs to do so before that date. With the court saying it has only a basic understanding of the issues at stake, quick resolution without recourse to witnesses and experts appears unlikely.

Welte also recorded the presence of several US-based VMware staffers in the courtroom. Virtzilla's not made fresh public comment on the case your correspondent can find at the time of writing, but certainly appears to be taking the suit very seriously and has previously denied any GPL violations. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • These Rapoo webcams won't blow your mind, but they also won't break the bank

    And they're almost certainly better than a laptop jowel-cam

    Review It has been a long 20 months since Lockdown 1.0, and despite the best efforts of Google and Zoom et al to filter out the worst effects of built-in laptop webcams, a replacement might be in order for the long haul ahead.

    With this in mind, El Reg's intrepid reviews desk looked at a pair of inexpensive Rapoo webcams in search for an alternative to the horror of our Dell XPS nose-cam.

    Rapoo sent us its higher-end XW2K, a 2K 30fps device and, at the other end of the scale, the 720p XW170. Neither will break the bank, coming in at around £40 and £25 respectively from online retailers, but do include some handy features, such as autofocus and a noise cancelling microphone.

    Continue reading
  • It's one thing to have the world in your hands – what are you going to do with it?

    Google won the patent battle against ART+COM, but we were left with little more than a toy

    Column I used to think technology could change the world. Google's vision is different: it just wants you to sort of play with the world. That's fun, but it's not as powerful as it could be.

    Despite the fact that it often gives me a stomach-churning sense of motion sickness, I've been spending quite a bit of time lately fully immersed in Google Earth VR. Pop down inside a major city centre – Sydney, San Francisco or London – and the intense data-gathering work performed by Google's global fleet of scanning vehicles shows up in eye-popping detail.

    Buildings are rendered photorealistically, using the mathematics of photogrammetry to extrude three-dimensional solids from multiple two-dimensional images. Trees resolve across successive passes from childlike lollipops into complex textured forms. Yet what should feel absolutely real seems exactly the opposite – leaving me cold, as though I've stumbled onto a global-scale miniature train set, built by someone with too much time on their hands. What good is it, really?

    Continue reading
  • Why Cloud First should not have to mean Cloud Everywhere

    HPE urges 'consciously hybrid' strategy for UK public sector

    Sponsored In 2013, the UK government heralded Cloud First, a ground-breaking strategy to drive cloud adoption across the public sector. Eight years on, and much of UK public sector IT still runs on-premises - and all too often - on obsolete technologies.

    Today the government‘s message boils down to “cloud first, if you can” - perhaps in recognition that modernising complex legacy systems is hard. But in the private sector today, enterprises are typically mixing and matching cloud and on-premises infrastructure, according to the best business fit for their needs.

    The UK government should also adopt a “consciously hybrid” approach, according to HPE, The global technology company is calling for the entire IT industry to step up so that the public sector can modernise where needed and keep up with innovation: “We’re calling for a collective IT industry response to the problem,” says Russell MacDonald, HPE strategic advisor to the public sector.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021