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Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

Jacobsen v. Katzer: Open Source License Validation - How Far Does It Go?

On August 13, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Jacobsen v. Katzer and Kamind Associates, Inc. (d/b/a KAM Industries)3 (“Jacobsen”). By this decision, the Federal Circuit has validated the legal position intended by the creators of some of the most important open source licenses: covenants in an open source license may be enforced under copyright law rather than on contractual grounds. This article will examine the ruling and reasoning in this important case, ask some questions unanswered by this ruling, and discuss some additional implications of this case outside of the open source context.

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