A Few More Dismissal Details

We’re still waiting for the court reporter’s transcript from last week’s dismissal of the lawsuit filed by Thomson Reuters targeting Zotero, but a few more details have surfaced regarding the nature of the ruling.

Judge Gaylord L. Finch, Jr. dismissed the Thomson Reuters complaint due to a lack of jurisdiction. The dismissal was without prejudice, which means that the judge did not bar Thomson Reuters from refiling its lawsuit. Whether the corporation can or will refile is unknown (to me) at this point.

While it does not appear that the judge dealt with much if any of the merits of Thomson Reuters’s complaint, the dismissal is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it would seem to require that Thomson Reuters and its not insubstantial legal team effectively start over, when they have already doubtless incurred significant costs preparing for litigation.

Second, and far more important, the landscape has changed dramatically since Thomson Reuters initially filed its lawsuit, not least of which in way that the research community (very broadly construed) has vehemently criticized Thomson Reuters’s actions. Thomson Reuters going into the original lawsuit last fall could only speculate about how academics, students, and researchers might respond to its legal complaint, but by now it has become clear that the lawsuit has inspired widespread hostility toward the corporation and its software.

As co-directors of the Zotero project, Dan Cohen and I are keen to put this lawsuit behind us, but we are also strongly committed to ensuring that Zotero and its development community can continue to innovate unfettered. We are humbled by the unanimous outpouring of support for Zotero by scholars, librarians, jocks, and nerds, and we eagerly anticipate many years to come of fruitful intellectual and technological dialogue.

Update: GMU has issued a formal statement on the dismissal.

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