Hell hath GNOME fury: Linux desktop org swings ax at patent troll


After being hit with a patent infringement lawsuit last month, the GNOME Foundation has responded with a counterclaim, and urged the courts to dismiss the case.

In a memorandum this week, the nonprofit organization said Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI), a patent assertion entity (PAE) that characterized as a "patent troll," had filed a claim for infringement regarding to the Foundation's Shotwell image management application in a United States district court in California.

"It is the first time a free software project has been conducted in this way, but we are concerned that it is not the last," said the GNOME Foundation.

"Rothschild Patent Imaging, LLC offered to allow us to settle for a high five-figure amount, so they would leave the case and give us a license to continue developing Shotwell. This would have been simple to do; it would have caused less work; , it would cost less money and would have provided the Foundation with much less stress. But also being wrong. "

Said set offered The treatment appears to be approximately 20 times less than the typical cost of processing a patent application. The average cost of patent litigation, when the potential penalty falls in the range of $ 1m to $ 10m, reached $ 1.5m in 2019, according to the "United States Intellectual Property Law Economic Survey Report of 2019 "

Companies facing such claims have a strong financial incentive to reach an agreement, knowing that they risk significantly higher costs just to fight the case and perhaps much more if they lose.

The GNOME Foundation, which develops a widely used family of Linux desktop software, expressed concern that transferring to RPI would allow the patent licensing company to use its "Wireless image distribution system and method" patent (US 9,936,086 ) against others. According to the GNOME dismissal motion, RPI has asserted its patent & # 39; 086 against five other organizations and, along with other PAEs named in honor of the inventor Leigh Rothschild, has been responsible for almost 300 patent cases in the past five years .

"stand firm against this unfounded attack, not only for GNOME and Shotwell, but for all free and open source software projects," said the foundation.

  Patent troll

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If GNOME manages to stand firm against RPI, it will not be the first offender accused of doing so. Both the manufacturer of the Netgear network kit (case 2: 16-cv-01380-RWS) and the biz Slomin & # 39; s (case 2: 17-cv-05915-BMC) have filed counterclaims against RPI lawsuits and managed to obtain their respective cases on claims

The counterattack of the GNOME Foundation includes a motion to dismiss the case completely, because, as the business argues, the patent is not valid. He also maintains that Shotwell and other free software creators are not affected by the patent. And the GNOME Foundation counterclaim claims that RPI filed its claim knowing that its patent is invalid and argues that RPI should pay its legal fees.

"We want to send a message to all the software patent trolls that exist: we will fight your claim, win and your patent will be invalidated," the GNOME Foundation said in its publication, and requested financial support to finance its murder crusade. of trolls.

The Register asked the RPI legal representative if anyone in the company would comment on the case. We have not received answer. ®

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