Open Source – Corporate Boon or Burden? The Meeting Blog

May 26, 2009

The SCL London Group Meeting on 28 May, Open Source – Corporate Boon or Burden, was a great success. Chaired by Calum Murray and held at the offices of Kemp Little, the meeting featured presentations from Richard Kemp (Partner at Kemp Little) and Peter Ratcliffe (Chief Counsel IPR to the BT Group).

Competitive pressures in software enabled industries and the need to get new products to market ever more quickly mean that corporate use of open source software (OSS) is now the norm. OSS is now plumb in the corporate mainstream. Deploying OSS is the CIO’s boon – still with a ‘coolness’ factor, it frees up expensive development resource – but what does it mean for the legal department’s resources that are called upon to manage OSS risks? What’s the proportionate legal response for process, procedures and internally for staff and externally for suppliers and distribution – to maximise the benefit and minimise the risks of using open source software?

Richard Kemp and Pete Ratcliffe explored the legal issues which arise from corporate use of OSS and the practical responses to those issues which are achievable through OSS risk management techniques to aim to maximise the opportunities present in OSS for the corporate user.

Their presentations, including Pete Ratcliffe’s Open Source crossword and his meeting handout, can be downloaded from the panel opposite (pdf files).

If you want to comment or raise any issue arising from the meeting, please log on and complete the comments section below.

{b}Richard Kemp{/b} is one of the UK’s top technology and communications lawyers. He has a particular reputation for developing commercial and innovative legal solutions to the business challenges of technology development, application, implementation and regulation. Richard is ranked in the global top 10 in both the IT and telecoms fields in the Expert Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers – Best of the Best 2008. He has been listed in the Best of the Best series since 2000 and in the top band of UK technology lawyers in the UK legal directories since setting up Kemp & Co in 1997. Richard has participated in teams that have won numerous legal industry awards and sits on the boards and editorial panels of a number of technology law specialist groups. Richard qualified as a solicitor with Clifford-Turner in 1980 after graduating from Cambridge (1977) and from the ULB in Brussels (1979). He established Kemp & Co in 1997, which became Kemp Little LLP, the first UK law firm LLP, in 2001.

{b}Pete Ratcliffe{/b} is BT’s Chief Counsel IPR and Head of BT’s Agreements & Trademarks Teams. He specialises in Patent Licensing and IT Agreements. He is also the principal architect of BT’s 21CN Procurement contracts. He is a Practising Solicitor in England and Wales and also admitted as an Attorney at Law in New York. Before qualifying as a Lawyer Pete had a successful career in Computing where he worked in many roles including Systems Programming, Operations Support Consultant and Performance Engineer on IBM Mainframes computers. He has lived and worked in Singapore, where he was part of the team that developed and built the Singapore Telecom in-house billing system based on BT’s CSS System, and also in New York where he studied and worked in preparation for sitting the New York Bar Exam.