GNOME faces 'baseless' patent lawsuit for organising images

The patent is for a system and method for distributing digital photographic images.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

GNOME Foundation has been issued with a lawsuit from Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI) for allegedly infringing a patent regarding the wireless distribution of images.

According to the legal complaint, GNOME's Shotwell platform allegedly infringes the patent in question as it used an image capturing device to perform various functions. 

Shotwell is a free, open source, image organiser designed to provide personal photo management for the GNOME desktop environment.

"The product imports and filters photographic images from cameras, allowing users to organise the photos and share them on social media," is one example of the alleged infringement, according to the complaint.

Other examples of the alleged infringement include wirelessly sharing photos to social media, importing camera photos onto Shotwell, and filtering various photographic images by topic -- such as events or group photos. 

See also: GNOME and KDE work together on the Linux desktop

GNOME Foundation will fight the lawsuit, with its executive director Neil McGovern labelling the lawsuit as "baseless". 

One of the principal ways of overcoming patent lawsuits is to attempt to find prior works that are more relevant to patentability of the claims. 

The patent in question was filed in 2008. 

This isn't the first time the owner of RPI, Leigh Rothschild, has filed lawsuits against other tech companies. According to Ars Technica, a separate entity owned by Rothschild, called Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations (RCDI), raised a lawsuit in 2017 against GPS tech company Garmin for infringing a patent.

Garmin's lawyers reportedly explained that Rothschild's patents for a "system and method for creating a personalised consumer product" weren't valid and breached US patent laws. RCDI eventually dropped the lawsuit while Garmin filed a counter-claim against the company to pay $20,000 for its legal fees. 

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