Q&As

In circumstances where software is provided to a developer under an open source licence and that developer configures that software and, together with expertise, methods and configuration of other software, creates a broader service solution, who owns the end solution?

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Published on LexisPSL on 20/04/2016

The following TMT Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • In circumstances where software is provided to a developer under an open source licence and that developer configures that software and, together with expertise, methods and configuration of other software, creates a broader service solution, who owns the end solution?

In circumstances where software is provided to a developer under an open source licence and that developer configures that software and, together with expertise, methods and configuration of other software, creates a broader service solution, who owns the end solution?

A ‘solution’ may comprise many different elements, only some of which may be capable of ownership and/or protection under English law. For the purposes of this Q&A, we have focussed on the copyright in the combined software product that comprises part of the ‘broader service solution’. For information on the issues of ownership of rights in methodologies and expertise (or know-how), see Practice Note: Know-how—protection and licensing and Overview: Patent transactions and management—overview (in relation to the issue that it is usually not possible in England to patent a methodology).

For the purposes of this Q&A we have assumed that Party B is, in effect, the supplier of a software solution to its customers. In developing its software solution it is using open source software supplied by Party A under a 'commercial open source' licence as well as its own proprietary software products.

Ownership of the software in the end solution will depend entirely on the terms of the agreement between the end customer and Party B. The fact that the software is, in part, based on licensed open source software will affect the extent to

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