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May 21, 2020

Troll Settles Patent Clash With GNOME

All hail, dedicated pro bono lawyers...

By CBR Staff Writer

The open source GNOME Foundation has won the right to freely use a patent it was being sued over by notorious patent troll, Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPIL) — one of 30+ subsidiaries created by Leigh Rothschild.

The tiny foundation, which supports an open source, Linux-based desktop environment, was hit in September 2019 with a court case by RPIL — which the EFF describes as a “poster child for patent litigation abuse” .

RPIL had claimed that GNOME’s “Shotwell” system was in breach of US Patent No. 9,936,086, which essentially claims the patent rights a smartphone that can receive images that a user can filter.

(The EFF blames the US’s Patent Office for issuing “more stupid software patents to fuel patent trolling” — many companies, if not all, settle with Rothschild for circa $50,000; cheaper than fighting in courts).

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In a huge win for the open source minnow, which was represented pro bono by lawyers from Shearman & Sterling LLP, the litigants say they will grant a release and covenant for the “entire Rothschild portfolio of patents”.

(This is only “to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation” and if such software is open sourced).

Neil McGovern, Executive Director for the GNOME Foundation said “I’m exceptionally pleased that we have concluded this case. This will allow us to refocus our attention on creating a free software desktop, and will ensure certainty for all free and open source software in future.”

Leigh Rothschild said “I’m pleased that we have managed to settle this issue amicably. I have always supported the innovation of open source software and its developers and encourage its innovation and adoption.”

The case was settled after 10 months of “tireless” work by GNOME’s lawyers. The foundation said: “The wider free and open source community owes its thanks and gratitude to their tireless work.”

 

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