May 19, 2014 – There is a constellation of legal constructs that you may sometimes hear referred to as “intellectual property.” That’s a tricky term because it encourages one to think of these separate types of legal constructs as the same. They aren’t the same. Free and open source software developers used to mainly concern themselves with licenses, license interactions and the resolution of license violations. In recent years, the scope of free and open source legal issues has expanded to include patents and (to a lesser degree) trademarks. Trademark issues rarely stop software from being distributed, so this article will discuss copyright licenses and software patents.

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