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Open Source

BananaIP Counsels > Open Source

Patent Risks in Open Source – Lesson’s from Google’s Story

This post was first published on April 25, 2011. Risks inherent in use of open source software from patents have finally seen the light of the day. Patent risks in use of open source software came to be  a reality with filing of patent suits by companies like Firestar, Microsoft and so on against open source businesses and users. However, none of the cases went the full distance earlier as they were settled out of court. The story is however different in the case filed by Bedrock Technologies against Google.Bedrock sued Google for patent infringement with respect to use of Linux...

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Is GPL so Viral? – The New Phase of OSS License Enforcement and Compliance

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This post was first published on 20th March, 2011. General Public License (GPL) is one of the most stringent open source licenses. Being a license created by Free Software Foundation, it may be termed as a strong copyleft license. One of the primary objectives of the license is to spread the philosophy of free software foundation to make source code available for copying, use, modification and distribution. Any derivative work of a software governed by GPL will also be governed by GPL and source code must be made available during distribution. Programs that are integrated with software governed by GPL are...

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Marrying Open Standards and Open Source

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This post was first published on 16th February, 2011. Standards can either be open or closed based on the manner of their creation and their accessibility to the public. A standard that is created through public or community participation without any restrictions and can be used or implemented by any one are called open standards. A standard that is developed by and limited to one or more persons is a closed standard. All proprietary standards are closed standards. The basic tenets of open source software are availability of source code, rights to copy, modify and distribute the software, movement of license along...

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Open Source – A business reality

First Publication Date: 5th October 2010 Open source has today become a necessity for most businesses. It is estimated that 99 percent of all companies using software use atleast one open source component. The business value added by open source products makes them inevitable for every company. In addition to software, open source has today expanded its tentacles to many areas from open text books to open drug discovery and is fast spreading to other areas.No business shift happens without legal hurdles and complications. With the rise in application of open source to businesses, the legal battles with respect to such...

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Licensing of software does not give rise to patent exhaustion

First Publication Date: 20th September 2010 The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified the legal confusion that was existing on the application of the first sale doctrine or doctrine of patent exhaustion with respect to software licenses. The Court clarified that the exclusive distribution right is limited by the first sale doctrine, which is an affirmative defense to copyright infringement that allows owners of copies of copyrighted works to resell those copies. Further the Hon’ble Court held that the exclusive reproduction right is limited within the software and this affirmative defense is unavailable to those who are...

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Using Open Source Software in Business

This post was first published on February 19, 2010. Open Source Software (OSS) has certain advantages when compared to proprietary software. It comes with the following benefits: a. The software may be downloaded for free; b. Source code of the software is available, which enables improvement and customization; c. The software generally has a community and the development is faster; d. Support and implementation services are available from multiple sources; and so on. As OSS always comes with a license, the rights and limitations with respect to the use of the software is defined by the kind of license that governs the software. Based on the...

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Patents: Model to Combat Patent Risks in Open Source Software

This post was first published on May 10, 2010. Professors at University of California Berkeley are proposing a defensive licensing scheme to fight patent risks in development and use of open source software. In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about the risk of patent infringement with respect to use of open source software and steps to mitigate the same. The model being proposed by Professor Jason Schultz and Professor Jennifer Urban may play an important role in minimizing patent risks if it is adopted by the open source community. The model called as 'Defensive Patent License' is a distributed network...

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Enforcement action against Palm for violation of terms of Open Source License

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First Publication Date: 7th December 2009 Today, Open Source Software (OSS) is being widely used in business as high quality software is being developed by open source communities. Most proprietary softwares have their OSS counterparts, which provide similar or better features. As integration of open source softwares into business is increasing, companies have evolved various business models for commercially gaining from OSS. One of such models is the dual licensing model. Under a dual licensing model, a company makes a software available as an Open Source Software under an open source license and also makes the same software available under a commercial...

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Open Source Software and Patent Risks

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First Publication Date: 8th November 2009 Software can be protected under both copyright and patent law. While copyright protection for software existed for a long time, patent protection for software evolved during the last decade. Copyright over software protects the literal and/or artistic elements of the software such as code and/or user interface. On the other hand, a patent over software protects functional elements of the software. The concept of 'Open Source Software' (OSS) evolved in response to proprietary software and restrictions under copyright protection. Owners of proprietary software exercised exclusivity and withheld source code under the copyright law. They released only...

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Common Public License Version 1.0

First Publication Date: 3rd April 2009 The Common Public License (CPL) is an open source license agreement released by IBM. The company holds copyright over the license. It permits the distribution of the license but limits the right to modify it. Softwares such as Windows Installer XML developer tool, Windows Template Library and so on have been released under the Common Public License. Rights The agreement grants a license over the following rights under the copyright law to every person receiving a software under the license: Right to Reproduce; Right to Distribute (source code or object code); Right to Make derivative works; Right to Publicly display; Right to...

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