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JBoss Expands Indemnification Plan

In a move designed to ease customer concerns about deploying open source software, open source software company JBoss has announced unlimited legal support for many of its customers.

The new indemnification plan now offers unlimited legal support to any customer sued for intellectual property infringement of open source software supported by JBoss. It also provides unlimited support for the repair and replacement of open source code found to be infringing.

JBoss will pay for up to four times the value of the support contract in the event the customer is required to pay damages for using that infringing code.

The move constitutes a significant boost to the indemnification plan adopted by the company two years ago. The new program promises to cover any legal fees up to the amount of the contract between the Atlanta, Ga.-based company and its customers.

JBoss sells its expertise on 12 open source projects, all bundled into its JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS). Applications covered under the JEMS umbrella include Enterprise Java Beans 3.0, Hibernate, the JBoss application server and Tomcat.

Brad Murdoch, JBoss vice president of services, said he believes the new offering is the best of its type in the industry today and will help alleviate any concerns over adopting open source software on a corporate network.

"We're continuing to see a trend in the adoption of open source into the enterprise," Murdoch said. "A big part of the JBoss strategy is to ensure that we can be the safe choice that enterprise customers can feel very confident about adopting the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System as part of their middleware applications."

The enhanced indemnification plan covers platinum- and gold-level JBoss customers. Silver-level customers, which make up roughly one-third of the customer base, Murdoch said, will need to upgrade to the other two support levels to take advantage of the program.

Existing customers will be automatically upgraded to the new indemnification program, while new customers will not have to pay an extra charge when they join. JBoss resellers are also covered by the program.

Open source indemnifications has been a hot topic since the SCO Group started sending threatening its customers and suing a couple of them in order to force them to certify they were not using any select Linux code about which it has sued over copyright infringement issues. The Unix System V code owner is currently in the middle of a $5 billion lawsuit against IBM that accuses IBM of misappropriating some of that System V code into the select parts of the Linux kernel.

In a recent hearing, the judge overseeing the case made clear his impatience with the case, noting a lack of "competent evidence" from SCO in one of his rulings. The company might recently dodged a potential de-listing bullet by finally filing its annual financial statements with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) late last week.