The Amsterdam court sided with Jelurida by finding Apollo to have acted in violation of the JPL by copying 75% of Nxt’s code.
In a landmark ruling, Jelurida, the company behind the first proof-of-stake blockchain Nxt, has emerged victorious in a Dutch case concerning copyright violations by the Apollo blockchain. Apollo was found to have broken the terms of the Jelurida Public License (JPL) through using the Nxt software without attribution and modifying it without authorization. It was ordered to strictly comply with the JPL terms and recall its current software based on the contested code.
How the Feud Started
The Nxt software at the center of the controversy was released as open source in 2013. In 2018, Apollo launched its own blockchain as a clone of Nxt. The move quickly went south, however, as a dispute broke out around the manner in which Apollo came to use Jelurida’s code.
In line with the practice that is customary in the public blockchain space, Apollo was originally granted authorization by Jelurida to make use of its Nxt software under an open source licensing agreement granting the JPL. In particular, Apollo was allowed to clone, use and modify the code however it wished, as long as proper credit was given to Jelurida and its work was preserved.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant repeatedly failed to make proper attribution with regard to the cloned Nxt code and continued unlawfully using the Nxt software as its own. After several cease-and-desist letters issued by Jelurida, Apollo allegedly briefly ceased the infringements, only to quickly relapse by replacing the JPL in the cloned code with its own proprietary license.
In turn, Apollo’s stance has been that it is not guilty of any copyright violation since it has purportedly “continually wrote, re-wrote, improved and extended” the software in question, thus significantly changing its functionality and making it essentially different from the copyright-protected original. But an Amsterdam court found differently.
Jelurida Wins the Battle
The Amsterdam court sided with Jelurida by finding Apollo to have acted in violation of the JPL by copying 75% of Nxt’s code. It awarded Jelurida with several remedies, the most damning for Apollo being the obligation to issue a recall to all its Dutch commercial customers. The defendant was also ordered to disclose documents containing information concerning the Apollo software, such as sales prices, profit calculations, and names of all involved persons, and reimburse Jelurida for its legal costs incurred in the proceedings.
The legal battle between Jelurida and Apollo should now be over. On July 8, had Apollo filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Southern Texas seeking “an order of declaratory relief on the copyright owned by Apollo and public domain materials falsely claimed by Jelurida.” According to its complaint letter, “it is against the custom and usage of the open source community…for [Jelurida] to assert that Plaintiffs may not continue to use…the software of Plaintiffs for the benefit of its users in the United States.”
Following Jelurida’s vindication in a Dutch court, however, Apollo has voluntarily dropped the lawsuit its U.S. affiliates had filed, bringing stateside proceedings to a close.
However, according to Apollo’s CEO Stephen McCulloch the battle is far from over. McCulloch argues that Jelurida doesn’t have the rights to the Nxt code to begin with, and that the ruling doesn’t affect them badly. In addition, Apollo will pursue legal action in the U.S. where he believes the firm can get at least partial rights to the code.