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Red Hat, Inc. (RHT), Facebook Inc (FB), GameStop Corp. (GME): 3 of This Week’s Biggest Surprises

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Say what you want about the tech sector, but it’s never boring. Any given week will keep tech investors flooded with product announcements, earnings surprises, and crazy strategy shifts that absolutely nobody saw coming.

These are three of the most shocking pieces of tech news this week.

What’s going on here?
Image source: Kk5hy at Dreamstime Stock Photos.

1 . Common sense prevails
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) was a busy bee near the end of the week. First it published fourth-quarter results that left investors scratching their heads overnight, and then the company helped a friend in need.

Cloud-computing expert Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) was sued on charges of patent infringement last year. Licensing outfit Uniloc claimed that Rackspace’s virtual machines trampled all over its description of how to do math on floating-point numbers more efficiently. Some of the machines involved run Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) Linux, and Red Hat stepped in to defend its customer. The company has after all agreed to indemnify its paying customers against intellectual-property claims.

On Thursday morning, Judge Leonard Davis of the Eastern District Court in Texas found Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT)’s arguments persuasive and sent Uniloc home empty-handed. Judge Davis noted that Uniloc was trying to patent a mathematical formula, making Claim No. 1 “unpatentable even if it is an improvement” over existing methods, and nothing in the other claims could overcome this fatal flaw.

I would agree with Judge Davis that such patents are dangerous mistakes by the Patent Office. They “would cover vast end uses, impeding the onward march of science,” he wrote.

Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) and Rackspace get to continue processing complicated numbers with the rounding step taking place before or after any mathematical operations

In a perfect world, this news wouldn’t belong in a rundown of major shocks. In this world, however, such a swift and decisive smackdown of patently offensive legal tactics is pretty rare. That’s particularly true in the Eastern District of Texas, where patent wranglers swarm to a generous helping of plaintiff-friendly judges and juries.

A golf clap is in order for the esteemed judge. Eastern Texas may not be a favorite venue for patent plaintiffs much linger.

2. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) in your pocket?
Remember the last time Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) decided to make a phone? Me, neither. The 2011 handset sold like frozen molasses and was canceled just weeks after its introduction. Here’s a picture to remind you what you missed:

The HTC Status/ChaCha in all its glory, rim-hugging rubber case and all. Note the blue Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) button near the bottom edge of this BlackBerry-like Android phone. Image from HTC.com.

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