Preliminary Injunction for GPL Infringement Granted by German Court

Seth Johnson seth.johnson at
Sun Apr 18 04:32:06 UTC 2004

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: pho: Munich Court Grants Preliminary Injuction For GPL Violations
  Date: Sat, 17 Apr 2004 23:23:39 EDT
  From: StpHinkle at
    To: pho at

> From

Of interest to editors and journalists covering: 
Linux, Free Software, Open Source, Copyright Law


BERLIN, Germany - Apr. 14, 2004 -- The Munich district court granted a
preliminary injuction against Sitecom Germany GmbH
( This injunctive relieve has been applied by the
netfilter/iptables project (

Sitecom is offering a wireless access router product (WL-122) based on
software licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL), developed by
the netfilter/iptables project.

The GNU GPL is a license commonly used for many free software projects, such
as the Linux Operating System Kernel.  The GPL licenses software free of
cost, but requires any redistributor to provide the full source code.

According to the court order, Sitecom did not fulfill the obligations
imposed by the GNU General Public License covering the netfilter/iptables
software. In particular, Sitecom did not make any source code offering or
include the GPL license terms with their products.

Following a warning notice, Sitecom refused to sign a declaration to cease
and desist. Thus, the netfilter/iptables project was compelled to ask the
court for a preliminnary injuction, banning Sitecom from distributing its
product, unless Sitecom complies with all obligations imposed by the GNU

"To my knowledge, this is the first case in which a judicial decision has
been decreed on the applicability and the validity of the GNU GPL", says Dr.
Till Jaeger, partner of the Berlin and Munich based law firm JBB
Rechtsanwaelte ( that represented the netfilter/iptables
project in the litigation.

This preliminary injunction follows a series of out-of-court settlement
agreements that the netfilter/iptables project has concluded within a short
period of time. When asked about the reasons for the sudden rise in legal
pressure for GPL compliance, Harald Welte, Chairman of the Netfilter Core
Team states:

"We are not in any way opposing the commercial use of free and open source
software. Specifically, there is no legal risk of using GPL licensed
software in commercial products.  But vendors have to comply with the
license terms, just like they would have to with any other, even proprietary
software license agreement."

About the netfilter/iptables project

The netfilter/iptables project provides state-of-the-art network security
software for Linux firewalling, packet filter and network address
translation (NAT), distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU
General Public License.  Being part of the linux operating system kernel,
the software is running on virtually every Linux installation.

For more information on the project or the software, visit

Media contact:
netfilter core team
Harald Welte
Phone: +49-30-24033902
Email: laforge at


DRM is Theft!  We are the Stakeholders!

New Yorkers for Fair Use

[CC] Counter-copyright:

I reserve no rights restricting copying, modification or distribution of
this incidentally recorded communication.  Original authorship should be
attributed reasonably, but only so far as such an expectation might hold for
usual practice in ordinary social discourse to which one holds no claim of
exclusive rights.

More information about the Discussion mailing list