JBoss offers indemnification to its support customers

JBoss Group LLC, the creator of an open source J2EE application server dubbed JBoss, on Monday announced it will offer indemnification for users who buy its production support packages.

This means JBoss will protect those customers from threatened or pending legal action if JBoss is accused of infringing any valid copyrights or patents.

“Indemnification in general, is a pretty standard clause for software, and customers who buy from proprietary vendors have come to expect indemnification,” explained Marc Fleury, president, CEO and founder of JBoss. “We have an open source product but we are of the school of thought that open source should be the safe choice for enterprises, and part of making it the safe choice is minimizing the risk for the decision-makers and offering indemnification.”

JBoss offers a free version of its Java application server for download from its Web site and a production version, which includes support seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Support has been available since October. The open source application server has been downloaded four million times in the past two years, Fleury said. Its biggest competitors are IBM Corp.’s WebSphere and BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic.

Shawn Willett, principal analyst, application infrastructure and Internet commerce at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va. said this is JBoss’s way of showing it is serious about getting some big corporate accounts. Willett said JBoss doesn’t have the big name support that Linux has, and needs to do everything it can to take away any objections enterprises might have against JBoss and open source software.

In addition, both Willett and JBoss’s Fleury agree that The SCO Group’s lawsuit against IBM and its subsequent aggressive moves towards Linux users has caused fear, uncertainty and doubt in the enterprise, and potential customers need to know that open source is safe.

In that case, SCO alleges that IBM contributed some of SCO’s Unix code to the Linux project, violating the company’s intellectual property. By doing this, SCO is attempting to claim that it owns intellectual property contained in the Linux kernel. SCO has also decided to set up a licensing program for Linux users for US$699 per processor, even though the lawsuit has not yet been settled. SCO wants all Linux users to pay to use the operating system, and if users buy into this license it could legitimize its claim. [Please see SCO sues IBM over Linux, seeks US$1 billion and SCO unveils Linux licensing scheme.]

In an effort to protect its Linux users from SCO, Hewlett-Packard Co. then offered its Linux users indemnification in case SCO’s lawsuit proves successful. [Please see HP offers Linux customers protection against SCO.]

Willett said it is highly unlikely JBoss or its customers would be sued, but since J2EE is an open specification it is always murky about who owns what.

JBoss has recently been concerned about some patent infringements involving Geronimo, a J2EE project spearheaded by the Apache Software Foundation. Earlier in November JBoss sent a letter to Apache alleging there are elements of Geronimo that are derivative works of JBoss.

Fleury said JBoss spent time going through the source code at Apache and found troubling similarities, and sent a letter. He would not comment on Apache’s response, but there is currently no lawsuit underway.

JBoss is headquartered in Atlanta. For more information visit www.jboss.org.