Artifex sues Palm for stealing their PDF Viewer technology

imagesdanger-thieves-jun-05-smallHell hath no fury like an GPLed application company scorned. Artifex, makers of Ghostscript (it’s basically a nice, open source PDF viewer) also makes something called muPDF, a tiny PDF viewer for mobile devices. Well, Palm’s PDF viewer is actually a direct infringement on muPDF.

Is it a big deal? No, but it does mean that Palm has some apologizing to do. And it could also mean some of the WebOS source may leak out slowly if more GPL code hits the deck.

Artifex Software Files Copyright Infringement Lawsuit against Palm, Inc.

San Francisco, CA (December 3, 2009) Artifex Software Inc. today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Palm, Inc., based on Palm’s unauthorized copying and distribution of one of Artifex’s registered technologies. Artifex is the developer and copyright owner of muPDF, a high-performance PDF rendering engine. Artifex is well-known as the developer of the Ghostscript family of interpreters. muPDF is Artifex’s lightweight PDF interpreter targeted at the PDA and ebook markets. Palm improperly integrated muPDF in the Palm Pre’s “PDF viewer” application without Artifex’s authorization. Palm’s unauthorized copying of Artifex’s copyrighted muPDF is widespread, as Palm has included “PDF viewer” in every Palm Pre unit shipped since the product’s launch in June 2009.

Artifex is a pioneer in open source software providing page description language renderers for PDF, PostScript, XPS, and PCL under the GNU Public License (GPL) and also under standard commercial license terms for those companies unwilling or unable to comply with the terms and conditions of the GPL. Over 100 companies license Artifex PDL technologies including HP, IBM, Konica, Kyocera and Xerox. Millions of users have benefited from the ability of Artifex PDL technologies to preview documents on the screen or provide high quality raster for hardcopy output.

According to Miles Jones, president of Artifex Software, “As evidenced by the number of companies that legally license our technologies, muPDF is an outstanding technical choice for a lightweight, high-performance PDF renderer. Artifex makes the choice simple for those who copy Artifex software for distribution: Comply with the terms of the GPL, sign an OEM license agreement with Artifex, or do not distribute our software. We have an obligation to protect our copyrights for ourselves, for our customers, and for every member of the open source community.”

Palm’s own documentation admits including Artifex’s muPDF in Palm’s Pre product as the PDF rendering engine in their PDF viewer application, but Palm neither obtained a commercial license from Artifex nor complied with the terms of the GPL. Palm’s intentional refusal to comply with the terms of the GPL means that Palm willfully copied and distributed muPDF without authorization, and any and all such copies infringe Artifex’s exclusive copyright.

About Artifex

Artifex Software Inc., headquartered in San Rafael, California, is the developer of muPDF and the highly regarded Artifex Ghostscript® PostScript, XPS, PDF and PCL interpreter technologies. Ghostscript software began in 1986 as a freely available alternative to Adobe’s PostScript products and is now widely recognized as a premiere independent implementation of all the leading page description languages. Artifex® offers the most complete software solution available for host-based applications and the embedded printer marketplace, including all major PDLs (PDF, XPS, PostScript, and PCL), fonts, and font rasterizers. Artifex commercially licenses and supports muPDF, Ghostscript®, GhostXPS®, GhostPCL®, and GhostPDF® technologies. muPDF and Ghostscript software are also distributed as open technology under the GPL, freely available on the net for unsupported use, but not for distribution in proprietary commercial products. For more information visit