Saturday, December 31, 2016

IP Considerations for Releasing OSS (part 3 of 3)

Continued from IP Considerations for Releasing OSS Part 2

Trademarks.  Trademarks in the form of individual or organization names, symbols, designs etc. are often one of the most valuable aspects of intellectual property applicable to software.  Purchasing and or OSS utilization decisions can be heavily influenced by a well known trademark's reputation for quality, performance and stability.  Many practitioners agree that a trademark would be lost if included as part of a software's OSS licensing terms.  This is because trademark law encourages an owner to maintain control over product quality bearing the mark.  Since a basic principle of OSS licenses is to allow creation of derivative works, such control would be untenable in an open source scheme.

Consequently, open source licenses do not include a trademark license and many explicitly preclude use of the copyright owner's name or other identifying marks as endorsement or promotion of derivative works.

Trade Secrets.  IP which an organization chooses to protect through trade secrecy restrictions should never be part of an open source project since the source code is published to the world.

Please see these sources for a more in-depth discussion of these topics.

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