Finding the Right Open-Source Savvy Lawyer

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2008-04-06 Print this article Print

There are lots of good intellectual property lawyers who specialize in open-source issues if you know what you're looking for.

Some days, like it or not, you need a lawyer. For most business purposes, picking the right law firm isn't usually that big of a deal.

Chances are you already have at least an idea of how to find a contract lawyer, a tax law specialist or a real-estate attorney. But what if your programmers are using open-source code that's licensed under two different licenses? What if you're concerned with how a patent might affect open-source software your company is already using? Or let's say a company based in Utah decides that you've put its proprietary code into Linux. Who do you turn to then? Now, what should you be looking for in a law firm?

Darn good question. Here are some of the answers you'll need if you find yourself in a spot where you need someone who knows both IP (intellectual property) law and FOSS (free and open source) licensing.

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I'm editor-at-large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. That's a fancy title that means I write about whatever topic strikes my fancy or needs written about across the Ziff Davis Enterprise family of publications. You'll find most of my stories in Linux-Watch, DesktopLinux and eWEEK. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, I worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects.

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