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Red Hat Puts More Muscle On Its Legal Staff

Robert Tiller and Richard Fontana join the company to keep an eye on open standards and changes in the IP regime needed for the future.

Red Hat is beefing up its legal staff with two appointments to strengthen its hand in patent disputes and open source licensing issues.

Company spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on whether Microsoft's claims in early and mid-2007 that its patents cover parts of Linux had anything to do with the expansion.

"We are helping pave the way for open standards and changes in the IP regime needed for the future," responded Robert Tiller, VP and assistant general counsel for IP, one of the new hires at Red Hat's legal department. "We feel a responsibility to lead these efforts and to encourage projects that support open, multi-vendor standards," he wrote in an email response.

Red Hat announced Wednesday that it was adding Tiller and Richard Fontana, a former associate of Eben Moglen at the Software Freedom Law Center, to its legal staff. Fontana will be Red Hat's open source licensing and patent counsel.

Tiller brings 20 years experience, including intellectual property and technology litigation, from his previous post with Helms, Mulliss & Wicker, a 145-lawyer firm in North Carolina. Red Hat is located near Raleigh, N.C.

Fontana served as counsel to the Software Freedom Law Center and helped draft Version 3 of the General Public License. He helped conduct the GPLv3 discussion process and researched U.S. and international copyright and patent law for the center. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and has a Masters in computer science from New York University and Yale.

Tiller will oversee Red Hat's intellectual property team, which is responsible for covering open source licensing, copyright, patent, and trademark. He is a graduate of University of Virginia School of Law.

"Both Mr. Fontana and myself will play critical roles in these efforts and in addressing other IP challenges," Tiller wrote Wednesday of their new responsibilities.

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