Software company Jelurida has emerged as the winner in a court case after Dutch authorities ruled that blockchain firm Apollo had illegally used its proprietary licenses. Jelurida began court proceedings in July after Apollo cloned code from the Nxt (NXT) blockchain, in violation of the Jelurida Public License (JPL).
Courts Rule Against Blockchain Code Cloning
The Dutch court ruled in Jelurida’s favor, declaring that "Apollo must adhere to the JPL completely and unequivocally within the Netherlands, from the moment the judgment is served." The court also ruled that Apollo must hand over all documents relating to sales and distribution of the Apollo software, from the time it began using Jelurida’s code.
Apollo began using the Nxt code and JPL in 2018, and received multiple cease and desist orders from Jelurida over the next 12 months. Apollo eventually replaced the JPL in its software with a legitimate, proprietary license, however, the company then failed to adhere to legal policy which demands Jelurida must be credited as the original creator.
Jelurida’s writ of summons stated that Apollo had "copied source code files from the Nxt Software one-on-one into the Apollo Software," and, "modified source code files of the Nxt Software and included these in the source code for the Apollo Software."
Jelurida produced convincing evidence showing its copyright control over the Nxt software, and submitted an expert report showing that "75.39% of Apollo code by lines is directly or indirectly dependent on NXT code." The court found that Apollo’s product had infringed the copyrights vested in the Nxt software due to failure to properly apply the JPL. In light of the court’s decision to rule in Jelurida’s favour, Apollo has been ordered to issue a commercial recall on all software distributed to customers in the time it appropriated the JPL.
Setting a Precedent for Crypto Copycats
Jelurida is a multinational organization that develops and maintains the Ardor (ARDR) and Nxt (NXT) blockchains. It supplies public blockchain infrastructure under an open source license, while also supplying private blockchain services for big business and enterprise.
The tendency for blockchain companies to dip their fingers into someone else’s code is nothing new in the cryptocurrency space. Famously, the TRON (TRX) blockchain was shown to have copied and pasted large chunks of essential code from Ethereum. TRON founder Justin Sun was subject to heavy criticism and bemusement from the blockchain community, but, ultimately, the open source code used in Ethereum was free for anyone to use.
The JPL code used by Apollo in the case at hand was also free to use, provided proper credit and attribution was given to Jelurida. Indeed, the court case could have been averted had Apollo provided proper accreditation on its software.
Tomislav Gountchev, director of Jelurida Swiss SA, commented:
"This matter has regrettably rumbled on for several years now, and we were left with no choice but to bring legal action when our attempts to open dialogue with Apollo failed.
The practice of cloning blockchain code continues to tarnish an otherwise great industry, but hopefully this ruling sends a message: copying open source code without full compliance with its license will not be tolerated. Not only will the community take a dim view of this practice, but judges will too."