The success of a FOSS project depends on more than a well-chosen license: it must be produced according to processes that promote the values of the FOSS community, it must be protected from harmful third-party claims, and it must have an appropriate legal and governance structure in which to thrive. SFLC's practice brings together expertise in all the fields of law that FOSS projects are affected by, including copyrights, patents, trademarks, and nonprofit governance. We can counsel our clients on the big picture, beyond today's specific problems, helping projects reach their long-term goals safely and efficiently so hackers can concentrate on making great software. We offer the following services to our clients:
SFLC is directly involved in its clients’ FOSS license development efforts, including development of the GNU General Public License v3 by the Free Software Foundation, and offers licensing assistance, particularly license development and implementation consulting, to FOSS developers other than its clients. SFLC also does community-wide licensing review and licensing analysis, for the purpose of identifying and addressing the causes of unnecessary license proliferation.
SFLC assists its clients in registering and defending their trademarks. SFLC helps to strategically evaluate and implement their clients’ trademark policies. SFLC can also help defend FOSS projects from the unfair assertion of trademarks by third parties.
SFLC provides enhanced long-term legal stability to the FOSS community by publishing educational materials, speaking at public events and offering consulting to the public and training to attorneys involved with or interested in FOSS legal issues.
SFLC publishes materials, gives seminars and makes public presentations from time to time on topics relating to FOSS software legal issues. SFLC also welcomes requests for it to make presentations or give seminars on specific topics of interest. In the past, SFLC has given presentations ranging from “An introduction to Free and Open Source Software Legal Issues” to “Patents and Free and Open Source Software” to “Version 3 of the GNU General Public License (GPLv3)” to many other topics relating to FOSS.
If you would like to learn more about having the SFLC present to your group, please contact us.
SFLC helps FOSS projects develop and maintain legal status to help ensure their longevity. SFLC assists its clients with all stages of corporate existence, including formation and tax exemption, and helps projects with their contracts and governance. SFLC established the Software Freedom Conservancy, which provides an alternative to independent corporate formation for FOSS projects. SFLC directly represents many of the most significant existing FOSS conservancies, and provides formation assistance for new projects seeking to create similar conservancies. SFLC is also able to represent its clients in negotiations in a variety of situations.
SFLC works to protect FOSS from encumbrance by software patents and advocates for the elimination of software patents. SFLC provides clients with a defense against the assertion of third party patents and conducts reexaminations with the patent office to invalidate patents. In cooperation with the Open Invention Network’s Linux Defenders Program, SFLC assists its clients in making appropriate defensive disclosure to preclude adversary gaming of the patent system to the disadvantage of FOSS projects.
SFLC defends the integrity of FOSS licenses against both adverse judicial interpretation and legislative interference. SFLC accepts primary responsibility for enforcement of US copyrights and coordinates international copyright enforcement efforts of represented works as necessary. SFLC also assists clients and the general FOSS community in resolution of disputes relating to the use and development of FOSS.