Just a reminder, these posts are not legal advice. This site is the personal blog of Mark Radcliffe and the opinions expressed are those of Mark Radcliffe and not those of his clients, DLA Piper or the clients of DLA Piper.

About Me:

Mark Radcliffe

I have been practicing law in Silicon Valley for over thirty years assisting startups and global companies develop and market innovative products and services. I have participated in multiple business cyles in Silicon Valley from hardware to software to internet to cloud. My projects have included developing the dual licensing business model for open source startup, developing the original domain dispute resolution policy for NSI and assisting Sun in open sourcing the Solaris operating system. Recently, I served on the US Japan Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council (one of ten members) to develop a plan to encourage the innovation in Japan and the United States. I have been working with the same attorneys since 1986 although we have merged with other law firms several times. I am now a partner at DLA Piper, a (relatively) new global law firm formed in 2005 from the merger of three law firms. The firm now has 4200 lawyers in 31 countries and 77 cities. My experience in corporate securities (particularly venture capital) and intellectual property enables me to assist companies structure the financing and intellectual property strategy for developing ane exploiting a new product or service. I and my team work with fifty startups at one time as well as Global Fortune 100. I have been fortunate enough to work with companies in software, cloud computing, semiconductor, health care IT and Web 2.0.

Open source has now become ubiquitous, yet management of its use remains uneven. The recent Forrester Research report at LinuxCon notes that 2010 was the year of using open source to improve business process execution speed and company growth. The adoption of open source has decreased in importance because open source is now so widely adopted. 

            Recently, Dell had problems with compliance with its Stark tablet This case illustrates critical lessons in open source management: (1) diligence is essential and (2) open source has many free lance enforcers who are checking compliance. Dell used the Android operating system in the tablet.  Dell failed to comply with the terms of the GPLv2 to make available the source code with the object code even though everyone “knows” that the Android operating system is licensed under the Apache license. As Black Duck noted in a recent report on Android software, the Android operating system is based on the Linux operating system and has 185 sub components which use nineteen different open source licenses.   The compliance failure was first noted by Harald Welte of gpl-violations. Harald is one of the “free lance” enforcers of the GPL.   

The industry is responding to these challenges through a number of initiatives.

             1.         The Linux Foundation working with the Fossology project has developed: the Software Package Data Exchange™ (SPDX™) specification is a standard format for communicating the components, licenses and copyrights associated with a software package

             2.         The Linux Foundation has developed tools to assist in determining and managing open source 

             3.         HP has made its open source scanning tools available through Fossology

             4.         GPL violations has made its binary scanning tools available

             5.         Project Harmony is an informal group of lawyers and industry members who are discussing the role of contribution agreements in open source projects. The discussion ranges from the appropriateness of contributor agreements to the use of assignment or licenses in contribution agreements.

 Linux Foundation is also preparing a checklist for compliance which will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010.  These efforts should make compliance simpler over time, but it is important for companies to participate in these efforts to make them more effective.


Olliance Group and DLA Piper are proud to announce that Airbus, a European consortium producing the Airbus family of passenger aircraft will present a business case with the support of the Eclipse Foundation at the Think Tank Sept 28 & 29. Among the topics to be addressed are; long-term community support models, shared innovation between industry, vendors and the community, and open source in supply chain management. With more than five years of strategic use of open source, Airbus will present sophisticated questions for the Think Tank audience to deliberate. This will be a practical discussion of the opportunities and challenges presented by open source for large enterprise organizations with unique requirements. We think that this addition will continue the Open Source Think Tank tradition of focusing on practical solutions to real world problems.  To learn more about the Open Source Think Tank, please go to