Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Intellectual property rights and ownership ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Intellectual property rights and ownership
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: ivan-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 06 Jun 2002 20:18 PDT
Expires: 06 Jul 2002 20:18 PDT
Question ID: 23447

My question regards intellectual property rights and ownership. I am
developing a technology for creating and indexing documents and
knowledge materials. Ultimately, the outcome of this will be an XML
type mark-up language that will be used for adding meta-data to
textual documents.

I am intending to release that technology as an open source but I
still want my name to be related to it, no matter who uses it or where
it has been implemented. I would like to make sure that there would
not be someone else who would claim that they have invented it.

There are a lot of open source technologies and solutions that are
being developed by communities but most of the time there are certain
people or organisations that stand behind the initial idea or

Could you please tell me what are the ways to achieve this? Thank you
for your consideration.


Request for Question Clarification by weisstho-ga on 15 Jun 2002 19:55 PDT
Hello, Ivan. 
I understand (and applaud) your desire to publish your code in open
source. Certainly traditional intellectual property right protection
through trademark and copyright are available. There are a number of
licensing options, too.

Please clarify your comments in your third paragraph. For example, are
you seeking to protect your code through your own exclusive efforts,
or are you seeking the involvement of some community of others to
assist you?


Clarification of Question by ivan-ga on 16 Jun 2002 00:39 PDT
Hi weisstho,

Thanks you for your response. I am definitely looking at involving an
open community in my project. Let me tell you what it is about:

I am developing the specifications of a mark-up language. I want to
release the first version and open it to the public so that anyone can
contribute in further development. I do not mind this language to be
used by anyone and in any types of software products.

However I really want my name to be always associated with this
mark-up language as the initial creator.

For example the HTML language is not owned by anyone (or at least it
looks like that) but any book that covers the Internet history
mentions one and the same name as the initial creator of the HTML.
Also anyone can create commercial web pages with HTML.

I am not saying that my mark-up language will become so popular; this
is just a comparison.

Thank you
Subject: Re: Intellectual property rights and ownership
Answered By: voyager-ga on 16 Jun 2002 06:05 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Ivan!

There's more than one way to ensure that your name is associated with
a project:

1. Use an approach like Linus Torvalds and mix your own name into the
project name (e.g. Linux, or like ReiserFS creator Hans Reiser)

2. Choose an appropriate virulent licensing scheme. A list of licenses
that would accomplish what you want can be found at The OSI Open
Source Initiative's site ( ). The most prominent of
the licenses there is the GPL (GNU General Public License) - I have
used this license and similar ones in projects of my own and they are
usually pretty well fitted to insure that your copyright notices stay
in the files. My only warning about the licenses listed there is that
they partly inhibit the usability of your project in commercial

The MPL (Mozilla Public License) is also a license worth looking at if
you want to hard-wire your name into the license itself (search for
the term netscape in the license.

You might also need a special license for your normative documents
(best published with them) or at least list a copyright notice with
them. You can find a good example at W3C's Intellectual Property FAQ ( ).

Make sure to have a close look at one of the normative specification
documents of the W3C, too. An example would be The Document Object
Model (DOM) Level 1 Specification ( ). Take a close look at the
copyright notice. I think that is something you could work with, too.

3. Provide online documentation for your project. Documentation is -
in my experience - something people are very happy to have but very
lazy do create. As long as your documentation is useful for the
project it will be linked to whenever the project is talked about...
which will also help you with search engines like google.

This way people who start inquiring about a project that is based on
your work will first be exposed to your documentation and will
associate your name with the project, probably long before they
actually get to do real work in this field.

I also recommend to actively supply links to your project documents to
search engines and to add meta-information (like author info).

4. Provide a central place for project development. If you manage to
lure developers to your project development site, you'll have direct
contact with them and also a lot of influence on future developments
and the creation of a core distribution. At the very least you will be
one of the administrators listed.

A good place to start would be opening a project at a site like
Sourceforge ( ). This would also give you the
benefits of being able to use central source repository systems like

5. Post release notes to appropriate newsgroups (I won't suggest a
group here, as that is largely dependant on your idea of a target
audience) and supply links to software collection sites like Freshmeat
( ). This will also act as
documentation later as to who a project originated with.

I hope this helps. In general I can assure you that Open Source people
are all aware of the work that other people put into creating
something new and appreciate the effort for the community. In my
personal experience Open Source people give credit where credit is
due, so I don't think you'll have to worry about being forgotten.

BTW: Your assumption that HTML is not owned by anybody is wrong as you
can read in the latest (and last) normative specification for HTML4.0
(Copyright Section)( ). In
most countries works by an author are automatically copyrighted to him
(also it helps to add an appropriate notice). More information on this
can be found for example at ( ).
ivan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy