Smithline PC - What We Do

OVERVIEW: We advise clients on the legal aspects of using open source both internally and as part of their proprietary products. We also advise companies on making contributions to open source projects and releasing code under open source licenses.

Do you use open source software?

Whether the code is a development tool, back-end database or library in your latest mobile app, your company is almost certainly using open source software.  With millions of lines of code available online and over a hundred open source licenses in common use, it is critical that your company understand the legal implications of the decision to use open source.  We offer training, briefers, a comprehensive license matrix and client-specific counseling to help your company systematize its approach to open source software.

Do you plan to incorporate third party open source into your proprietary product?

Distributing open source code as part of your product can have unexpected consequences for your proprietary codebase, patent portfolio and liability to downstream users. The risks depend in part on which open source license is used, so you need a clear understanding of what each license says and a plan to manage use of open source by your developers.  We can train your legal and development teams on open source issues and help you create policies for open source approval.

Do you want to distribute your own code under an open source license?

If you manage an open source project (or product), we can help you choose the right license and contribution agreements, advise on license compatibility issues and otherwise help develop the best legal framework for your offering. We also counsel “dual-license” open source vendors that offer both proprietary and open source products and services.


Our open source services include:

  • License Matrix: a comprehensive matrix categorizing all major open source licenses. See Example.
  • Briefer Series: a multi-part series covering open source from basics to the most complex issues
  • Policy Creation Guide: a step-by-step guide to help you create the right open source policy for your company
  • Custom Training and Presentations: on-site presentations addressing your company’s specific open source questions and needs
  • Advice: we advise clients on all aspects of open source use and distribution

“Pragmatic advisers on the leading edge of licensing, software and technology.”

– Keenan Conder, General Counsel, Tableau Software

“We have great trust and respect for their work. Their turnaround times and availability are awesome. Most importantly, they really understand our SaaS business.”

– Joe Whitty, VP Finance, Moovweb

“Our ace in the hole for the business' most critical transactions. ”

– Joe Berkowitz, Deputy GC and Global Head of Partnerships, Xero

“We can count on Smithline PC for insightful feedback, judgment and guidance for any deal. They have become trusted business partners for Adobe’s growing business.”

– Joe Ramirez, VP Licensing & AGC, Adobe Systems

“Their knowledge of the law and complex IP negotiations is stunning and their turn-around times are impressively fast.”

– Steve Woolven, President of Applanix (Trimble)

What's New

SF Bar Fixed-Fee Billing Program Now Online

Alternative fee arrangements are all the buzz, but very few firms have taken the plunge to drop the billable hour entirely in their engagements with demanding corporate clients. In this OnDemand program from the San Francisco Bar Association, Todd Smithline of Smithline PC and Ryan Tyz of Tyz Law Group cover both the practical and […]... MORE +

Todd Smithline Teaching Video Game Law at Berkeley Law School

For the ninth year, Todd Smithline is teaching Video Game Law at U.C. Berkeley (Boalt) School of Law in Spring 2018. More information here.... MORE +

Welcome Andrew Rogers

We are pleased to announce that Andrew Rogers has joined the firm as an Associate. Andrew joins us from Sullivan & Cromwell where he was a corporate associate. Andrew is a graduate of The Ohio State University and Northwestern University School of Law. For more information about Andrew, please see his bio here.... MORE +