Thomson Reuters Lawsuit Against Competing Software Product Dismissed

from the reverse-engineering-allowed dept

Last year, we wrote about the troubling lawsuit filed by Thomson Reuters claiming that George Mason University, the makers of an open bibliography software, Zotero, had violated its copyright by reverse engineering the file format used by Thomson Reuters' own proprietary bibliography software, EndNote. Zotero could open bibliographies created in EndNote and then resave them in an open format -- a very useful tool that should be perfectly legal -- but which Thomson Reuters claims violated its license agreement, which bars reverse engineering. Luckily, a judge has tossed out the lawsuit, though (as of right now) it's not entirely clear what the reason for the dismissal was (the ruling doesn't appear to be anywhere online, and the reports on it don't seem to have the details either). Hopefully, Thomson Reuters takes the hint and drops the case, but there's probably a half-decent chance that it will refile the suit or appeal. However, one hopes that the company realizes that felony interference with a business model isn't a crime, and reverse engineering has been held to be perfectly legal. Also, wouldn't it be nice if the company focused on competing by innovating on tools and features, rather than trying to sue competitors out of existence? Update: There's a great analysis of the complaint, that goes much more deeply into the details -- and corrects some misperceptions in this and the earlier post (though, I'd still argue it's copyright law that makes the license enforceable in the first place).
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Filed Under: competition, copyright, endnote, reverse engineering, software, zotero
Companies: george mason university, thomson reuters

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2009 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: THERE was a time

    No, it's called saving your butt when the government bails these things out rather than letting them all fail, turning the value of your assets into something akin to dirt.

    Where were the Republican'ts? Hiding in the corner quietly, waiting for Palin to come out and spew an "I told ya so!".

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