An excellent result
To be brutally frank, public hanging/drawing/quartering/schwedentrunk of the patent trolls would have been even better, but alas, we live in an imperfect world.
Congratulations to the GNOME foundation.
The GNOME Foundation has settled a US lawsuit brought against it by Rothschild Patent Imaging, complete with an undertaking by the patent assertion entity that it will not sue GNOME for IP infringment again. In a so-called "walk away" settlement, Rothschild Patent Imaging (RPI) and the open-source body are discontinuing their …
Patent trolls? Sure RPI is a company that manages a patent portfolio, but in fairness (and I'm biting my lip here) one of the Rothschilds (I'm blindly assuming the same one) was involved in the photographic industry. I know someone that used to work for his company in this 80s/90s cutting and joining film (inc. porn). When digital came in and everything got cheap they changed their business.
Yeah, it'd be nice to get the details of the "settlement". Gnome ended up not having to pay anything so either the RPI had a sudden attack of altruism or they realised it was going to court and realised the was a good chance of losing not just the case but probably a number of the patents.
Although a good result for the Gnome Foundation, it leaves RPI to go after others with the same patents. I think the courts should have the power to reject out of court settlements and force the litigants to go ahead when there's a good chance of setting a precedent. (although IANAL and don't know if this would pass that test anyway)
Patent troll business models only function because paying the settlement is cheaper than going to court and paying lawyers.
Since GNOME were defending the case out of principle, and because they had lawyers who were working for free, they could potentially keep the case going for a looooong time. I suspect the prospect of actually having to pay for some lawyering in court made the trolls settle ASAP.
... that a bunch of
money grubbing lovely helpful lawyers* were prepared to work on this pro bono. I strongly suspect that fending off patent trolls is way beyond the financial means of any open source project, so it's nice to see some hungry sharks lovely helpful lawyers* actually doing some good for a change.
*I'm sure *some* of them are lovely. And helpful. Aren't they?
There'll be an NDA around this but the lawyers will have acquired detailed knowledge about the case and the patents. Next time the trolls go after a commercial entity they'd be the best lawyers to call on to defend. The bill would be along the lines of "£1 for hitting it, £999 for knowing where to hit" Multiplied up an appropriate number of times, of course.
> I strongly suspect that fending off patent trolls is way beyond the financial means of any open source project,
From the article, it's likely that OIN got more involved than is suggested. That seems a real nuclear option, even just by suggestion, and one might hazard a guess that it's the bad guys who would need the inexhaustible lawyer-geld.
My understanding of the way OIN works is that they have a pool of patents which are licensed on non-aggression terms. A troll is unlikely to be using any of these in its own operations so OIN wouldn't be able to nuke them. They might, however, have the expertise to review the patents to invalidate them.
The pragmatist notes that, even if the lawyers were working for free, the hours of any organization's staff required to fight a legal action have value. I mean, if you have a task that would cost you $10K to do internally, or $8K to hire a consultant to do for you, it's obviously worth considering the consultant... and similarly if throwing that $8K at a troll shuts them up (permanently), it's probably smarter to pay them than to fight.
Paying sets a precedent. If that's your policy, anyone can threaten you with a patent lawsuit that they stand no chance of winning, and then offer you a settlement that's less than the cost of litigation.
Apparently the cost of litigating a patent lawsuit is in the region of $1m+, hence the trolls in this case asked for a 5-figure sum to go away.
If your policy is to pay, that will be very expensive as lots of trolls line up to take your money.
If your policy is to fight, get the patent invalidated, and get costs and damages from the troll, and if you have the resources to be able to follow through, then most trolls will run away rather than be destroyed. As happened in this case.
During the whole "SCO" vs IBM suit, it was mentioned that the general IBM policy is to just pay any claim of less than $10K and fight anything over that amount. To keep people from exploiting the policy, sometimes they *will* fight over amounts of less than $10K. It's kind of a case of, how lucky are you feeling today? Further, their lawyers were nicknamed the Nazgul.
That would be a de facto admission that the trolls had a valid claim to waive.
Why not ask for a token (or real) amount to not pursue a suit against the trolls for threatening unfounded litigation?
Dear patent trolls, I hope you catch something nasty. The world will be a better place without you. Go and find a proper job - stack the shelves and do something productive for society rather than trying to suck the life out of it.
I'm left wondering what do patent trolls tell their kids / grand kids that they do for the their day job and what do their kids think about that ???
I'm left wondering what do patent trolls tell their kids / grand kids that they do for the their day job and what do their kids think about that
I believe that, per the old joke, they tell their kids they play piano in a brothel... because there’s some shameful adult things you just can’t tell kids.
"In an article comment on this story, McGovern said: "For those asking about payment, I can confirm we paid RPI and Leigh Rothschild a grand total of $0.00 for the settlement.""
Very impressive, but since the whole point of patent trolls is to get money out of other companies, with legal threats, I'm wondering what causes the Gnome foundation to effectively win this ... Bigger legal threats maybe ?
I imagine turning up for a chat with RPI, and explaining that they'd engaged Shearman & Sterling, a near $1B revenue law firm, that's been around since 1873, and who has clients like Sony & Bank of America on their books, likely focused their mind a bit on the prospect of being able to win.
Oh yes, and Shearman & Sterling are doing the work for free, how much is your legal team costing you?
Also seems the patent itself is bogus, looks like a generic method of sorting images based on criteria such as a topic. I suspect the patent is too broad, and should never have been granted in the first place. (Fails the Alice test).
I think RPI here have basically decided they can't risk court, as the patent would likely be revoked, thus automatically loosing the case, and of course risking their portfolio.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation did a write up on the patent side here.
I imagine turning up for a chat with RPI, and explaining that they'd engaged Shearman & Sterling
That is something you don't explain, in all meetings you are accompanied by your lawyer, who will force his/her business card on anyone who fails to tell him/her in a timely fashion of already having received such a business card.