Managing Open-Source Software Use through an Intellectual Property (IP) Policy

Managing the use of Open-source software (OSS) for any software development company might be a challenging task. However, software development companies can set boundaries on OSS usage through a comprehensive IP Policy. The IP policy for an organization can define guidelines and compliance procedures for inclusion of OSS in any deliverable. The policy and procedures could be applied whenever employees, independent contractors, and/or vendors incorporate OSS into the company’ products that are  or  may  be  distributed  externally.  Development companies can set it as the  responsibility  of  the  manager  retaining independent contractors to ensure the independent contractors are aware of, and follow, the OSS and IP policy. Policy and procedural steps would also apply whenever a company employee  contributes  to  a  work-related  OSS  project  or  whenever  company contemplates contribution of code to a FOSS project. The compliance process can include identification  of  all  OSS  contained  in  the  company’s deliverable,  review  (including architectural   dependency   analysis,   provenance   analysis   for   identified   FOSS,   license identification  and  analysis,  analysis  of  potential  impact  to  intellectual  property  rights,  etc.), approval decision, identification and satisfaction of obligations to be satisfied.  

Since the IP policy would apply  to  packaged  software  licensed  by  vendors  as  well  as  contracted development of custom software, any developer that delivers software to your company must disclose any OSS contained in its deliverable, including a list of all OSS components, including  their  version  numbers,  all  applicable  licenses  (not  only  the  main  license  but  each applicable  license),  material  for  product  documentation  (including  but  not  limited  to  license texts, copyright notices, acknowledgments and attributions), source code for the OSS (when applicable), including any modifications made by the developer, dependency charts illustrating the dependencies, interfaces, and interactions between the OSS components and any other product  components. 

For learning more about IP policy and managing the use of Open-source software (OSS) in your organization, please connect with us at

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