SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – To address the rapid growth of open source software (OSS) in consumer electronics, telecommunications, automotive and industrial systems, Brooks Kushman P.C. recently established its Open Sourcing Management (OSM) practice group. Brooks Kushman`s OSM group helps companies understand and select OSS, and comply with OSS license terms. As a leading intellectual property (IP) law firm, Brooks Kushman is uniquely qualified to assist organizations in this area, as the firm can both identify a company`s current and future OSS status, as well as provide practical, legally compliant solutions and future strategies for compliance.
“Open source software license compliance is an issue that affects all industry segments since compliance, which is typically triggered by the distribution of the product, applies to all levels of a product`s supply chain,” said John LeRoy, shareholder, Brooks Kushman. “While the use of OSS provides immense benefits, it also presents obligations to the distributors and risks for failure to comply with those obligations, including claims for copyright infringement. This can get complicated quite quickly, but with the proper understanding and precaution, it`s manageable.”
Brooks Kushman`s OSM practice group consists of a robust team that is highly experienced in electrical engineering and computer software, which is vital to properly understand, evaluate and advise manufacturers and distributors with respect to OSS. Led by Shareholder John LeRoy, the team helps clients identify what OSS is in their products using digital auditing tools, understand what license terms and legal obligations govern the use and distribution of that OSS, and formulate a strategy to comply with the license terms. Brooks Kushman`s practice group will also train software developers on how to select open source projects for inclusion in future projects. Educated selection of open source may reduce license compliance obligations.
As companies from numerous industries recognize the value and cost benefit of using OSS in their products they are calling on Brooks Kushman`s expertise to advise them on license compliance. As a result, the OSM practice group is presenting at numerous conferences across the nation to provide companies with practical guidance and legal counsel on how to develop and distribute products to minimize open source liability, as well as manage open source in purchasing and sales.
“As a partner to our clients, we`re continually monitoring emerging IP-related challenges to ensure we`re properly and comprehensively protecting their product and technology portfolio,” said Mark Cantor, president, Brooks Kushman. “After a thorough assessment of the potential pitfalls of open source software, we saw the clear need to expand our service offering to ensure we`re advising current and potential clients on this rapidly emerging aspect of IP law. The response has been overwhelming, with a great deal of interest from numerous companies and organizations across a wide range of industries.”
According to Brooks Kushman, the use of OSS has become more prevalent as software takes a more prominent role in everyday life. The increased use of OSS is due in part to its numerous advantages, including reducing a product`s time-to-market and decreased development costs. But a proper compliance process, as stated by a given software`s licensing agreement, is critical to ensure a company doesn`t violate the terms and risk liability.
Legal risk associated with use of OSS could include liability for copyright infringement if license terms aren`t followed. Since this liability can be triggered at all levels of a product`s supply chain, it is critical to understand and manage these terms before a product is introduced into the supply chain.
“We`re advising clients that now is the time to get their house in order to maximize the benefits and avoid the risks of open sourcing software,” said LeRoy. “With a thorough understanding of the various terms and requirements, as well as a strategy for proper evaluation and compliance, an OSS-compliant supplier has an advantage over its competitors from a supply chain buyers` point of view. As our clients` IP advisors, we want to ensure they`re capitalizing on this advantage.”
About Brooks Kushman:
Established in 1983, Brooks Kushman P.C. is a nationally ranked intellectual property (IP) and technology focused law firm with offices across the nation. The firm has more than 70 lawyers and agents specializing in various disciplines. Brooks Kushman has a reputation for providing leading IP strategy and counseling with a focus on the business objectives of its clients and represents clients across many industries with respect to protection, enforcement and monetization of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyright and trade secrets.
Brooks Kushman counts a number of Fortune 100 companies across a variety of industries among its clients. The firm is recognized by a number of leading legal publications and resources, including Corporate Counsel magazine, U.S. News & World Report, IP Law & Business magazine and the Law360 organization. For more information, please visit brookslaw.wpengine.com.