Open Source Software (OSS)

All software is protected by copyright. Software today often consists of various shares from several authors to meet marketable time-to-market and technical “state-of-the-art” requirements. In addition to purchased shares and subcontracts, this also includes free and open software known as FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). The applicable patent rights continue to apply depending on the country of origin.

Before software consisting of several of these parts finds its way into the public domain – and leaving the legal entity is enough – patents and license rights must be checked, or the potential risks of non-compliance must be assessed. The creator of the overall software must ensure that all licenses are fulfilled, even those purchased or subcontracted.

In addition to penalties, threatens the need to publish the source code

In the case of non-compliance with licenses or infringements of patent law and the risk of penalty payment, there is the threat of disclosure of the software’s source code. This is often equivalent to giving up market advantages due to intellectual property. This disclosure threatens, for example, through the use of FOSS in one’s software development, which developers all too easily accept: The free and easy availability leads to the risk mentioned above.

In addition to pure software patents, procedures related to hardware also play a decisive role. These patents must be checked before similar algorithms are used in one’s software.

Meta-study on FOSS

We have compared over ten open-source software studies in a meta-study. Download the document free of charge.


The examination of licenses and patents should be planned and carried out at the release of the software and already during the selection of suppliers and software parts (for example, FOSS). Sound software management in cooperation with legal security already during software architecture minimizes risks and coordinates suppliers and software shares.

INVENSITY offers software management to counteract these risks. INVENSITY can draw on a partner network of law firms if legal advice is required.

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Ulf Stocker
Head of Software Engineering