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.

In the first lawsuit by a commercial open source vendor, Artifex, which uses a “dual licensing” model (providing the software under both the General Public License (”GPL”) and a commercial license) for its MuPDF rendering engine, has filed suit against Palm for alleged copyright infringement (in the interests of transparency, I have worked for Palm in the past, but I am not involved in this matter). Artifex alleges that Palm has violated its rights by using MuPDF in the Palm Pre but failing to comply with the GPL or, in the alternative, take a commercial license.  The complaint has very few details so it is difficult to determine how the GPL was violated.   

This complaint may signal the beginning of a trend by commercial open source companies with ”dual licensing” models: the success of that model, which is used by most commercial open source companies, depends on the difference in the scope of rights available under an open source license and a commercial license as well as the value of the additional protections (performance warranties, support and indemnification) available under the commercial license. Thus, one important component of this strategy is to ensure that the open source version of their software is used within the scope of the open source license. However, litigation has been uncommon in the open source community in the US until recently and we will see if the trend towards more litigation continues next year.


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  2. [...] the General Public License (”GPL”) and a commercial license) for its MuPDF rendering engine, filed suit against Palm for alleged copyright infringement. This is the first lawsuit by a commercial open source vendor, [...]

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