GNOME, the popular Linux desktop, didn’t just avoid paying a patent troll, it won the right for any product under an Open Source Initiative license to use code covered by the company’s patents.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

In 2019, the GNOME Foundation was sued by Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI) for violating its “wireless image distribution system and method patent” (US Patent No. 9,936,086).” Rothschild, a Non-Practicing Entity (aka a patent troll), had filed 714 lawsuits over the past six years.

Now, in a surprise move, GNOME, makers of the popular Linux desktop of the same name, won not only a release and covenant not to be sued for any Rothschild patent but a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative (OSI) approved license.

According to the RPI’s complaint, GNOME’s Shotwell open-source image organizer had infringed the 2008 patent because it used an image capturing device to import and filter photographic images from cameras and then allows users to organize the photos and share them on social media. Rothschild patent is thought to be both overly broad and invalid because it patented existing prior art technology.

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