Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Cowles and Thompson Succeeds in Affirming Open Source Software Rights

UPDATED, Sep. 15, 2020:  

Our client Richard Geldreich of Binomial LLC announced today the public release of his open source software which was at the center of the matter described our July press release below.

 

Here is a link to Binomial's announcement:

https://richg42.blogspot.com/2020/09/lzham-and-crunch-are-now-in-public.html

which includes github links to the LZHAM and crunch licenses.

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Dallas, TX (July 20, 2020) -- Cowles and Thompson achieved a recent success on behalf of our client, an open source software developer, regarding rights and potential fees demanded by his former spouse.  A litigation team of Shareholders Casey Erick, Sim Israeloff, and Bill Siegel, succeeded in recovering Summary Judgment on behalf of Richard Geldreich, and a determination that his former wife had no right, title, or interest in or rights to charge Richard or his new company for the use of open source software

 

Geldreich and His Open Source Software

Open source software is software that is uploaded to the internet with an open source license allowing anyone to use the software or make derivative works from it, for free without payment to the original developer. Many companies like Google prefer to use open source software to avoid claims of patent or copyright infringement. 

Richard Geldreich is an open source software author and co-owner of Binomial LLC.  Richard’s former spouse filed suit against him and Binomial alleging that she owned a financial stake in open source data-compression software (texture compression software) written by Richard.    She claimed she owned 60% of that company because she had owned 60% of a dissolved Texas LLC that allegedly owned the IP rights to the open source software, and thus owned 60% of Binomial because it consulted with respect to the software and had developed an asserted derivative of one of the works.

 

Rights Related to Open Source

Open source code and software is generally created with the intent that it be made freely available to all users.  (See:  https://opensource.com/resources/what-open-source.)  Thus, the Cowles & Thompson litigation team argued that Richard’s former spouse held no rights or claims to the open source software he had created.  In late June 2020, the Dallas District Court agreed in a Summary Judgment that ruled: 

the former spouse had no right, title, or interest in the open source software and no rights to charge Richard or Binomial for the use of the software or associated intellectual property, patents, accounts, and derivatives.  Additionally, the court found that Connie had no right, title, or interest in Binomial or any of its revenues or income.  The court also awarded Richard his attorney fees.

 

The Team

Casey Erick represents clients in both litigation and transactional matters that span across commercial law, labor and employment, real estate, consumer protection, and general litigation including breach of contract, corporate trade secret theft, tortious interference, defamation, personal injury, fraud, and various other kinds of civil litigation.

Sim Israeloff is Section Head of the Commercial/Business Litigation group.  His practice is devoted to commercial and complex business litigation in state and federal courts.  He represents U.S. and foreign businesses and individuals in litigation and arbitration involving business transactions, real estate partnerships, franchises, securities, intellectual property, injunctions, and probate matters.  He is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Bill Siegel -- William L. (Bill) Siegel is Section Head of the Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights group and a member of the Corporate and Business group.  His experience includes representing individuals and business entities in their corporate and transactional affairs, including drafting and negotiating agreements of all types and representing individuals and business entities in disputes that may arise in litigation in State and Federal Courts.  He also represents debtors, creditors, Trustees, and Committees in bankruptcy matters in Chapter 7 liquidations and Chapter 11 reorganizations.

 

Cowles and Thompson

Cowles and Thompson, LLC is a full-service law firm with offices in Dallas and Plano, Texas.  Established in 1978, the firm has long served the Dallas-Fort Worth region, Texas, and the nation.  Cowles and Thompson attorneys strive to provide effective, creative, efficient solutions for their clients’ most complex problems, including critical litigation and appeals, employment, business formation and transactions, creditor’s rights and family law.


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FOR MORE INFORMATION:

David Metzler, Managing Partner:  214-672-2167, dmetzler@cowlesthompson.com

Teresa Martin, Marketing Director:  214.672.2506, tmartin@cowlesthompson.com

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