> Yes, it means that. If this is in an essential part of the kernel, every use of Linux distribution with such a kernel would constitute an infringing operation.
> In the commercial world, providers of hardware-software systems tended to hold their customers harmless from such suits and would defend them.
Oh boy. This could be fun.
I can't wait until the patent trolls go after IBM, probably reasoning that since almost all (or maybe all?) of IBM's big iron can/does run Linux they're a good target. The mental image that such a lawsuit evokes is that of a foolish man poking a large sleeping grizzly bear. Eventually, the bear will snort a few times, bat its ears, open one eye, look sleepily around, and then simply maul the annoying guy into a small patch of red pulp.
If there's one company that I would expect to defend Linux pretty damn well, it's IBM; given their patent history I bet they could find numerous counts of infringement on their portfolio by any business, even if that business is just a shell company/patent troll. Even if they didn't have patents with which to fight back... well... what are the odds that a patent troll can outlast IBM's legal army?