GNOME sends message to 'patent trolls' and files defence against lawsuit

The foundation will fight the patent lawsuit.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The GNOME Foundation has filed a defence against the patent lawsuit it received a month ago, saying it wants to "send a message to all software patent trolls out there".

The alleged "patent troll" in question, Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI), sued the GNOME Foundation in September, making claims that the Linux desktop provider had infringed a patent related to the wireless distribution of images.

In its original legal complaint, RPI said GNOME's Shotwell program infringed upon its patent as the platform wirelessly shared photos to social media, imported camera photos onto Shotwell, and filtered various photographic images by topics such as events or groups.

In response to the patent lawsuit, the Linux desktop provider has filed three legal defences -- a motion to dismiss the case outright, an answer to the claim, and a counterclaim.

The GNOME Foundation filed three separate legal defences as it wants to ensure that RPI's patent becomes invalidated and so the lawsuit "isn't just dropped when [RPI] realises we're going to fight this", it said in a statement on Monday.

"Rothschild Patent Imaging, LLC offered to let us settle for a high five figure amount, for which they would drop the case and give us a licence to carry on developing Shotwell. This would have been simple to do so; it would have caused less work, cost less money, and provided the Foundation a lot less stress. But it also would be wrong," the statement continued. 

"Agreeing to this would leave this patent live, and allow this to be used as a weapon against countless others. We will stand firm against this baseless attack, not just for GNOME and Shotwell, but for all free and open source software projects."

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.

RCDI eventually dropped the lawsuit, and shortly after, Garmin filed a counterclaim against the company for $20,000 as compensation for the legal fees it accrued during the court proceedings. 

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. 


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