Lawsuit; (a) definition:
What companies often do to smaller competitors when they fear they otherwise cannot compete on the merits of their products.
Make no mistake, this is a nuisance lawsuit designed to intimidate. To quote from the complaint:
A significant and highly touted feature of the new beta version of Zotero, however, is its ability to convert - in direct violation of the License Agreement - Thomson’s 3,500 plus proprietary .ens style files within the EndNote Software into free, open source, easily distributable Zotero .csl files.
So what are they complaining about here?
- They say that
GMU reverse engineered Reuters’ EndNote software to create Zotero.They cannot possibly demonstrate any evidence to support this claim, as it is not true. What Zotero does in order to read Endnote style files is no different than what, say, OpenOffice.org does to read Microsoft Word binary files. All the Zotero team did was figure out how to map the style files to Zotero internal style structure, which has no connection to Endnote, but is in fact based on development work on CSL. Thomson’s complaint, then, has the same merit as if Microsoft were to sue OpenOffice.org for its ability to read .doc files.
- I suppose they might have some legal basis for complaining if Zotero distributed Endnote style files (no doubt most of which are developed by Endnote users), but they do not.
- Finally, Zotero does not technically convert Endnote style files to CSL files; this only happens internally.
It is my hope that individuals and institutions see this lawsuit for what it is, and that it becomes yet another reason to in fact support Zotero (and other free solutions) and move away from Endnote. It is also my hope that Zotero and George Mason are not intimidated by this, and that they might see some help on the legal front to fight it.