We Support GNOME Foundation's Fight Against a Patent Troll

by Deb and Karen on October 23, 2019

Conservancy is always opposed to the use of patents to curtail free software development and use. In the recent case against GNOME, we also care deeply about the code base. The Yorba Foundation, Shotwell's original home, assigned its copyrights on the image management program to Conservancy in 2016. The GNOME Project is now the target of patent troll, Rothschild Patent Imaging, LLC, for maintaining and shipping the Shotwell code.

GNOME was recently contacted by a patent troll claiming to have rights that cover the image management software Shotwell, a free software program that is maintained by GNOME and is designed to be part of the GNOME desktop. GNOME responded by declining to settle, filing a motion to dismiss and by filing a counter-suit against the troll with the aim of invalidating their patent. We are in complete solidarity with GNOME's decision to fight this troll so that no other users or developers are in danger of being sued by this bad-faith actor over this matter.

As Shotwell's copyright holders and as a software freedom-focused charity, Conservancy wants people to be able to use this software without fear of retaliation or rent-seeking. Patents and patent trolls create a chilling effect for both developers and users. Shotwell was originally developed by a nonprofit organization and is now maintained by the community. Rothschild should not be harassing GNOME with its frivolous claim. We support GNOME's countersuit and encourage other stakeholders and free software activists to support GNOME in this suit however they can.

Tags: FOSS Sustainability, Shotwell

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