Bruce Perens: Inside Open Source’s Historic Victory

Hall agreed to serve pro bono publico (at no charge, for the public benefit), and asked the court for a declaratory judgment that the patent was unenforceable.

Katzer responded by bringing a SLAPP suit against Jacobsen. SLAPP is a law that was meant to defend little folks sued by big rich companies, but is increasingly used in just the other direction. And the judge upheld this, which meant that Jacobsen would have to pay Katzer’s lawyer’s fees before the case was even decided. After some court argument, the unreasonable fees asked were reduced to $14,486.68 and $16,976.25, for two lawyers used by Katzer, and Bob Jacobsen paid them.

Most Open Source developers, faced with a court-enforced $30,000+ bill to pay their opponent’s lawyers, would have been forced to give up. This is a real problem in our legal system – “justice” usually goes to the party that can afford it. But Jacobsen persevered.

Read more at Datamation

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