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.

TYPES OF OPEN SOURCE 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

“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

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

– Keenan Conder, General Counsel, Tableau Software

“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

Important Change to MongoDB’s Open Source License

Many of you may be using MongoDB’s open source Community Server database somewhere in your operations or products. A recent announcement and license switch by MongoDB may affect you, so please review the following carefully. Old Reality: MongoDB under AGPL Historically, MongoDB was licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License (“AGPL”). The AGPL is a […]... MORE +

Welcome Loretta Lau!

We are pleased to announce that Loretta Lau has joined the firm as an Associate. Loretta joins us from Kirkland & Ellis. Loretta has a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from New York University School of Law. For more information about Loretta, please see her bio here.... MORE +

“GDPR Primer for SaaS Companies” at Smithline Training

What should a U.S.-based Software as a Service (SaaS) company know about the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? Guest instructor Mark Webber provides a general overview of the GDPR, explains how it reaches U.S.-based companies, reviews its key principles and previews common compliance questions SaaS vendors should expect from their E.U.-based customers. Check out […]... MORE +