F/OSS and Intellectual Property

Author: Bruno Lowagie
Author: Ywein van de Brande

iText is a Java library published under the Mozilla Public License. It is used in many different projects: it's the PDF engine used in Google Calendar, Google Analytics; it's used in jBoss/SEAM to produce PDF output; it's used in the major Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools, such as JasperReports, Pentaho, and Eclipse/BIRT.

In 2006, the Eclipse Foundation decided to create a simultaneous release of a series of Eclipse projects (the Callisto Simultaneous Release). Eclipse/BIRT was one of these projects, so the Eclipse Foundation also needed to integrate iText in their release. However: iText was not available under the Eclipse Public License, and the Eclipse Foundation (led by IBM) didn't want to host iText UNLESS there was 100% clarity about the Intellectual Property of the library. As a result, end users could download the complete suite of products combined in the Callisto Simultaneour Release, except for iText: iText had to be downloaded separately.

Actuate, the company in charge of the Eclipse/BIRT project, contacted the owners of iText to solve this problem so that iText could be part of the Europa Simultaneous Release in 2007. A research agreement was made between Actuate and Ghent University, the employer of the original developer of iText, to make a complete overview of the Intellectual Property of iText.

This talk describes a series of legal issues with respect to F/OSS that had to be solved during this assignment.

See http://www.slideshare.net/blowagie/itext-ip-review