Attribution of Frappe's Intellectual Property

Shall we prevent the Breach of our Intellectual Property or let it continue to happen?

 · 5 min read

Attribute

ERPNext is an open-source & free software application. Frappe Technologies Pvt. Ltd. licensed the code of ERPNext as GNU General Public License (GPL) v3 & its documentation is licensed as Creative Commons (CC-BY-SA-3.0). Under this license, ERPNext has been guaranteed several rights and obligations.

Below are the few rights and obligations which everyone should be aware of:

  • You may copy, distribute and modify the software as long as you track changes/dates in source files.
  • You have to include the license and copyright notice with each and every distribution.
  • You can use this software privately.
  • You can use this software for commercial purposes.
  • If you modify it, you have to indicate changes made to the code.
  • Any modifications of this codebase MUST be distributed with the same license, GPLv3.
  • This software is provided without a warranty.
  • The software author or license can not be held liable for any damages inflicted by the software.
  • The brands "Frappe" and "ERPNext" are registered trademarks of Frappe Technologies Pvt Ltd.

There were several discussions within our team members that there have been various Service Providers / Companies who are replicating Frappe/ERPNext in terms of branding and not giving us proper attribution for the same. The question which arises is, what shall be the mechanism that needs to be followed so that these entities provide us with suitable attributions?

Guidelines

We have devised guidelines for the Service Providers / Companies who are redistributing ERPNext software and/or modifying it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License or (at your option) any later version. The Service Providers/ Companies should follow the guidelines set out by Frappe to avoid legal hassles to both the Service Providers / Companies or Frappe according to the rules set by GNU General Public License as published in https://www.gnu.org/licenses/.

1. Documentation: Attribution Required

  • The Service Providers / Companies should prominently display Frappe License as © Frappe Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Content licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0." (“ Copyright Disclaimer”)
  • The “Copyright Disclaimer” should be displayed on each and every page of the Service Providers / Companies website to avoid any confusion or legal hassles to either Frappe Technologies or the Service Providers / Companies.
  • The “Copyright Disclaimer” should be displayed prominently on the top and bottom of each and every page of the Service Provider/ Company Website.
  • The Service providers/ Companies should provide an appropriate “License Notice” along with the “Copyright Disclaimer”. The “License Notice” should be given on the main website page of the Service Providers/Companies website.

2. Source Code: License Notice Required

While redistribution, you must include the following license notice:

“This file is part of ERPNext. ERPNext is a free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

ERPNext is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License. If not, see https://www.gnu.org/licenses/.”

The Service Providers/ Companies should follow all the required guidelines above. If Service Providers/ Companies fail to follow the guidelines then in such cases Frappe Technologies Pvt Ltd will ask the Service Providers/ Companies to take down the ERPNext Documentation to avoid legal actions against the Service Providers/ Companies. It is vital that Frappe devises a mechanism to protect its intellectual property and not be misused.

3. Fair Use of Trademarks

Permission from Frappe is required to use the ERPNext name or logo as part of any project, product, service, domain or company name.

We will grant permission to use the ERPNext name and logo for projects that meet the following criteria:

  • The primary purpose of your project is to promote the spread and improvement of the ERPNext software.
  • Your project is non-commercial in nature (it can make money to cover its costs or contribute to non-profit entities, but it cannot be run as a for-profit project or business). Your project neither promotes nor is associated with entities that currently fail to comply with the GPL license under which ERPNext is distributed.
  • If your project meets these criteria, you will be permitted to use the ERPNext name and logo to promote your project in any way you see fit with one exception: Please do not use ERPNext as part of a domain name.

Use of the ERPNext name and logo is additionally allowed in the following situations:

All other ERPNext-related businesses or projects can use the ERPNext name and logo to refer to and explain their services, but they cannot use them as part of a product, project, service, domain, or company name and they cannot use them in any way that suggests an affiliation with or endorsement by ERPNext or Frappe Technologies or the ERPNext open source project. For example, a consulting company can describe its business as “123 Web Services, offering ERPNext consulting for small businesses,” but cannot call its business “The ERPNext Consulting Company.”

Play Fair

There’s no prohibition in rebranding or white-labelling. GNU GPL is a permissive license and is copyleft in nature. But on the other hand, proper attribution should be provided by the Service Providers/ Companies which concludes to be fair use. It is necessary under the GNU GPL v3 license that if the software is being redistributed for commercial purposes, it is on the distributor to provide a copy of the source & include a copyright notice with attribution.For the ease of the Service Providers/ Companies, Frappe has issued ready-made guidelines so that the Service Providers/ Companies can give proper attribution. It is mandated on the Service Providers/ Companies to provide the Copyright Disclaimer & License Notice as per the guidelines mentioned above to refrain itself from engaging in legal hassles in the future!

TLDR:

  • Attribute the documentation with CC-BY-SA 3.0
  • License any redestribution appropriately with the GNU General Public License

For any queries please do reach out to us at legal@erpnext.com


Ankita Roychoudhury

Ankita is the legal officer at Frappe. When she is not authoring closing deals, doing legal research, writing legal articles and books, you can find her playing cricket!

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