By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-04-14 Print this article Print

Welte said he is not aware of any legal action under way in the United States on this matter, adding that the enforcement body, the Free Software Foundation, prefers a "much more quiet approach to GPL enforcement." "This is partly a strategic difference, and partly due to the difference in how the legal system works," he said. "Here in Germany, you basically only have 30 days from discovery of an infringement for negotiations. Only within 30 days you can apply for injunctive relief. If you apply any later, the court would rule that the matter is not urgent, and you should go for a regular copyright trial, which would last years," he told eWEEK.
Click here to read about the Free Software Foundation targeting RTLinux for GPL violations.
Fortinet sells the FortiGate and FortiWi-Fi products, on which, Welte said, "Fortinet claims to run the FortiOS operating system. However, as the project uncovered, FortiOS is using the Linux operating system kernel and numerous other free software products that are licensed exclusively under the GNU GPL. This information was not disclosed by Fortinet," he said. Asked to be more specific, Welte said the violations occurred in "all FortiGate and FortiWi-Fi products, that is, FGT60, FGT100, FGT200, FGT300, FGT400, FGT500, FGT800, FGT1000, FGT3000, FGT3600, FGT4000, FGT5000 and FWF60." "The software in question includes, but is not limited to, the Linux kernel Version 2.4.18,; the UCL data compression library; the Reiser file system [reiserfs]; l2tpd; the GNU C Library [glibc]; and the GNU zlib Compression Library [zlib]," he said. However, the injunction was issued only on "initrd," which is part of the Linux kernel and the "only piece of code in their devices that I hold copyright to," he said. Going forward and as a settlement, Welte and want Fortinet to include a copy of the GPL license text with every product, to include the full corresponding source code or a "written offer" indicating the source codes availability on some Web site, and to ensure that both requirements are met for distribution of physical products as well as for firmware updates that could be downloaded, he said. Infringing companies often request a grace period during which they can sell already produced and noncompliant products, Welte said. "This is acceptable to us, but in that case, we insist on some kind of donation," he said. Outside of that, "it would be nice to see them making a donation to organizations within the free and open-source software community, but that is totally up to Fortinet itself. That is not a condition or requirement from our side," he told eWEEK. Welte said he is always open for negotiation. "In fact, my lawyer just received a call from Fortinet some hours ago, indicating their interest in a settlement," he said. Welte said the court-ordered injunction follows a warning notion from the project last month, Fortinet Ltd.s failure to agree to and sign a cease-and-desist agreement, and the inability to reach a negotiated, out-of-court settlement in a timely manner. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel