Document Foundation gets corporate "Inc" status

The Document Foundation's official incorporation in Germany strengthens the rights of the community and individual contributors, backers say. In other words, the Inc status will prevent any one or several companies from hijacking the project.

Apache may have the most momentum with OpenOffice but the other big backer (not IBM) is taking another step forward commercially.

The Document Foundation officially incorporated in Berlin, Germany on Feb 17. It develops LibreOffice, a fork of OpenOffice that came into being following Oracle's purchase of Sun.

"With this legal act, the entity officially came to life and is legally recognized," according to a statement released by the Berlin-based entity on Feb 20.

What does it mean? Thorsten Behrens, Deputy Chairman of the Board of the new Foundation, said it strengthens the community aspect of the project.

"The Document Foundation is the legal affirmation of the community spirit – an entity by the community, for the community, and an entity independent from any single vendor,”" Behrens wrote.

It also hands over more rights to individual contributers, noted Michael Schinagl, a Berlin-based attorney who was involved in the foundation's incorporation process.

"The creation of such a Foundation is unique in the history of free software. There are not many, if any, entities that guarantee such strong rights to active contributors. Embedding those into legal language was a tremendous task, but one that was very worthwile," he wrote. "The Foundation and its statutes provide the ideal grounds for a free office ecosystem, including users, developers, marketeers, adopters, service providers and many, many more, and they can serve as an example for other communities with similar goals.”