JBoss Boosts Indemnification For Partners, Customers

Customers with JBoss Professional Support Gold or Platinum agreements--and the qualified solution providers supporting them--will get the additional coverage at no extra charge, according to the Atlanta-based company. JBoss Authorized Service Partners that implement JBoss solutions are covered. Gold support starts at $15,000 per application and Platinum support at $19,500 per application.

JBoss already offered some indemnification but now is quadrupling the amount it will pay if a customer or a partner is assessed damages in a legal case, said Brad Murdoch, vice president of services at the vendor. The new cap is set at four times the value of the original JBoss contract, he said.

Two other levels of protection are offered as well. The first covers customer or partner defense costs in case of a lawsuit, and there is no cap on that amount, Murdoch said. With the second, JBoss will pay to repair or replace technology if it is found to infringe, he said.

Such indemnification has become a hot spot in an age of increased litigation over copyrights and patents and what some see as a collision between intellectual property rights and open-source projects.

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Last November, Microsoft extended its indemnification protection, and in January 2004, Novell said it would indemnify buyers of its latest Enterprise Linux product in certain cases if they were impacted by the ongoing lawsuit that The SCO Group is waging over Linux.

As probably the largest Linux booster, IBM is conspicuous by its lack of a customer and partner indemnification policy. IBM is the primary target of SCO's contractual dispute and intellectual property case over Linux rights.

Though legal indemnification is important to large financial services and insurance firms that perform a lot of due diligence before technology deployments, it's probably less critical for the small and midsize businesses that typically use JBoss, said Marc Maselli, CEO of Back Bay Technologies, a Boston-based solution provider.

"The chance of a customer getting sued over Linux is very small, and the chance of getting sued over JBoss is one thousand times less," Maselli said.

Also, because JBoss "doesn't have the bells and whistles" of IBM WebSphere or BEA Systems software, it's relatively easy to move from JBoss to another solution should a company get in legal trouble over deployment, he added.