OpenLogic protects customers against legal action

The open source company is the latest supplier to offer legal protection to users of its software
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

Enterprise open source software provider OpenLogic is offering indemnification against legal action for firms using its code.

OpenLogic, which made the announcement on Monday, is the latest in a stream of suppliers to try to protect its customers from lawsuits.

The open source community has been closely following the SCO/IBM case, which kicked off in 2003 after the Unix software company sued IBM for more than $1bn.

OpenLogic has pledged to protect from legal action customers who download its code and then purchase its support packages.

That includes indemnification for intellectual property infringements, including defence of claims, repair and replacement of infringing software, and up to four times the value of the contract for damage awards.

But cover will be invalidated if the code is modified, the company said. "For enterprises to fully embrace a broad range of open source products, they need to be able to deploy, manage and control their open source usage and limit their legal risk," said Steven Grandchamp, chief executive of OpenLogic.

OpenLogic's indemnification policy — which covers most popular open source products apart from Linux — applies to both the US and the UK.

The ongoing uncertainty over the legal status of some open source software has caused considerable concern among some enterprise users, particularly after SCO also sued car manufacturer DaimlerChrysler, a Unix licensee.

"Although the benefits of using open source software are many, there can sometimes be lingering legal concerns around using open source software in the enterprise," said Andrew Aitken, managing partner of Olliance Group, an open source consultancy.

Lloyd's of London last year offered to underwrite open source software against claims of intellectual property infringement. HP, Red Hat and Novell all offer policies covering specific distributions.

The SCO dispute has now been rumbling on for three years, dragging into it a host of other companies, including Microsoft, which court papers claim indirectly invested in SCO.

OpenLogic owns a library that is a starting point to helping enterprise developers customise their own stacks. It also sells a platform which helps businesses to manage their open source software.

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