A recent issue of DDJ has an fascinating article on the case of Jacobsen versus Katzer, pertaining to the legal strength of open-source licenses.
To quote author Michael Swaine: it's a big deal.
The nano-gist is:
- Katzer threatened legal action on a supposed patent violation by Jacobsen.
- Jacobsen looked at the facts (including that K had used parts of J's software), marshalled resources from the open-source community, and launched a pre-emptive lawsuit.
- A U.S. district court judged in a manner that severely limited monetary damages awarded to J, based on a legal distinction between a condition and a covenant.
- Later, an appeals court overturned the decision. i.e. The good guys win.