The GNOME Foundation has taken the extraordinary step of not just defending itself against a patent troll but to aggressively go after them. This is an important battle. Let’s me explain.
The initial reason for Rothschild to come after us they clearly believe that the GNOME Foundation has money and that they can shake us down and get some easy money with their portfolio of patents.
If we had lost or given them the money, it would have made us a mark to not just Rothschild, but to every other patent troll who are probably watching this unfold. Worse, it means that all the other non-profits would be fair game . We do not want to set that precedent. We need to set a strong message that if they attack us they attack us all.
The GNOME Foundation manages infrastructure around the GNOME Project which consists of an incredible amount of software over a nearly 23 year period. This software is used in everything from medical devices, to consumer devices like the Amazon Kindle and Smart TVs, and of course the GNOME desktop.
The GNOME Project provides the tooling, software, and more importantly the maintenance and support for for the community. Bankrupting the GNOME Foundation would mean that these functions would take a terrible blow and cripple the important work we do. The companies that depend on these tools and software will also be similarly hit. That is just one non-profit foundation.
There are many others, Apache, Software Freedom Conservancy and the FSF amongst others. They would be just as vulnerable as we are now.
What Rothschild has done is not just attack GNOME, but all of us in Free Software and Open Source, our toolchains that we depend, and the software we use. We can’t let that happen. We need to strongly repudiate this patent troll, and not only defend ourselves but to neuter them and make an example of them to warn off any other patent troll that thinks we are easy pickings.
Companies, individuals, governments should give money so we can make a singularly statement – not here, not now, not ever! Let’s set that precedence. Donate to the cause. GNOME has a history of conquering its bullies. But we can’t do that without your help.
An American President once said “They counted on us to be passive. They counted wrong.”