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How much legal trouble is Cisco in against the FSF?

A new Law.Com analysis indicates Cisco may be in big legal trouble over the FSF lawsuit alleging it misused open source code in its hardware. Until you learn the rest of the story.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

A new Law.Com analysis indicates Cisco may be in big legal trouble over the FSF lawsuit alleging it misused open source code in its hardware.

Until you learn the rest of the story.

The Law.Com analysis is based on Jacobsen vs. Katzer, the case from last year in which an open source license was upheld as enforceable.

This means the conditions of an open source license can subject violators to sanctions under the Copyright Act, write Jonathan Moskin, Howard Wettan and Adam Turkel of White & Case LLP.

Under copyright law, the licensor does not have to prove economic harm by the licensee, only that a defendant's profits were the result of the copyright violation. The licensor can also sue "downstream licensees," the authors write.

In other words if Cisco sold a router with open source code to a telephone company, the owner of that code could sue the telephone company.

Thus, the effect of Jacobsen is twofold; it enables a set of potentially onerous monetary remedies for failures to comply with even modest license terms, and it subjects a potentially larger community of intellectual property users to liability.

Sounds great until you learn, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story.

Which is that when Jacobsen returned to the district court, in January, he still could not get an injunction against Katzer, "due to a lack of evidence showing any specific and actual harm suffered or imminent as a result of the copyright infringement."

In other words you can win on the law and lose on the facts. That may be where this is heading, with Cisco claiming the open source code "crept into" its products and thus damages should be minimal.

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