June 5, 2009, 1:52 pm
An open source software project got some good news this week, as a judge dismissed a suit brought by the maker of a commercial alternative. Thomson Reuters, which makes EndNote, an academic reference management product, had filed suit against George Mason University, claiming that its support of the open source Zotero project, which imports EndNote files, was in contravention of the university's license to EndNote. The suit, which requested an injunction against the distribution of Zotero, has now been dismissed. Depending on whether Thomson Reuters appeals or refiles the suit, this may leave Zotero in the clear.
Academic reference managers, which allow their users to keep track of the publications that they cite when writing up their own research, are a fairly specialized market. EndNote has a number of features that make it a compelling option, including a series of filters for online search queries and tight integration with document preparation software, notably Microsoft Word. It also offers one of the few cross-platform options on the market. But there is also a degree of product lock-in, as many researchers have built up libraries of thousands of references over the years.