"GNOME, the free software desktop has been hit by a patent troll. It's the first time a free software project has been hit by this, and we want to send a message to all patent trolls out there - we will fight your suit, and we will have your patent invalidated."
It is disappointing to see the GNOME Foundation settle in this manner rather than pursue the patent invalidation case fully as implied in their fund raising site and pretty explicitly in the blog post announcing the fund. I imagine a significant number of donors will also be disappointed making trying to raise such funds for any future defense more difficult.
GNOME receives a release and covenant not to be sued for any patent held by Rothschild Patent Imaging. Further, both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild are granting a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative approved license (and subsequent versions thereof), including for the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents, to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation.
Gnome got Rothschild to agree to never sue another open-source project again. That's a huge concession and an outcome that's arguably better than a few invalidated patents.
Also, there's a question of how widely this legally binding promise is... will it apply to anyone else who wants to buy these patents?
Discussion on HN at that time: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21071699
- GNOME raised lots of money to help fight this case  - yet the lawyers supposedly worked on it pro-bono. So is there an implication that this money has instead gone straight to the patent troll's pockets, or will the GNOME project get the benefit of that money? Are there associated costs of the litigation that could easily consume the $150K?
- They have claimed that no OSI-licence-approved project will be sued. They have not prevented closed-source projects from getting sued, and presumably any closed-source project that makes use of open source components will still be sue-able? For example, a kiosk app that is delivered with a GNOME-based distribution would be completely unprotected, presuming they distribute this software?
- This patent is likely very invalid  - so it is very much not in Rothschild's interest to have this case see the light of court - so how did we get to this point?
I'm not expecting any official answers here of course, but the whole thing is exasperating
Neil McGovern said elsewhere¹ that GNOME "have not paid RPI or Leigh Rothschild for this settlement".
How did we get to this point? How does a bluffer get burned in a poker game? By trying to bluff too long.