THE OPEN SOURCE Gnome Foundation has been hit with a "baseless" patent infringement lawsuit over its Shotwell personal photo manager.
The lawsuit [PDF] has been launched by a company called Rothschild Patent Imaging. It claims Shotwell infringes a patent (US patent number 9,936,086) granted in 2008 that covers a "Wireless Image Distribution System and Method" because it uses "an image capturing device" and "imports and filters photographic images from cameras, allowing users to organise the photos and share them on social media".
The lawsuit adds that non-profit Gnome's patent infringement is "causing irreparable harm and monetary damage to [Rothschild] and will continue to do so".
However, Rothschild's previous attempts to enforce its 2008 patent have been far from successful. A connected company, Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations has sued almost 70 companies, including satellite navigation pioneer Garmin. However, rather than pay-up the demanded $75,000, according to ArsTechnica, Garmin fought the lawsuit and won.
It successfully argued that Rothschild's patents on "a system and method for creating a personalised consumer product" weren't valid and ran contrary to Section 101 of US patent laws, barring patents that are excessively abstract. This covers 'do it on a computer' patents that take common physical world methods and describe them running on a computer instead.
Indeed, the lawsuit didn't even reach court, with Rothschild withdrawing it an hour before a deadline set by Garmin, wherein it threatened action to have the patent declared invalid. Garmin also counter-sued for $20,000 in legal fees and claimed that the company had claimed to be based in Plano, Texas in an office facility that doesn't even exist.
In this latest lawsuit, Rothschild has described its Plano, Texas location as a "virtual office". Plano, of course, is a notorious hotspot for patent trolls due to the unusually favourable nature of local law courts to intellectual property lawsuits.
For its part, Gnome executive director Neil McGovern described the lawsuit as "baseless" and vowed to fight it.
"We have retained legal counsel and intend to vigorously defend against this baseless suit," said McGovern in a brief statement. µ
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