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ProtexIP Knowledge Base Slaps a Ceiling on Shared Software Code

Circle L Roofing CIO Elias Abraham is like a lot of open source users: creative and cost-conscious. The Bradenton, Fla., company is the largest tile roof installer in the Sunshine State, with 900 employees and more than $100 million in annual sales. In addition, says Abraham, the company "has found the secret to making money in roofing." Abraham helped write the proprietary software code that he says keeps suppliers and customers happy and helps roofers secure big contracts.

But that same code concerned Circle L's legal counsel. How much of the software code could the company claim as its own, and how much should be shared with the open source community? Abraham was talking about this very problem at a Software as a Service (SaaS) conference when a vendor approached him about Black Duck Software Inc.'s protexIP Knowledge Base. The pay-as-you-go software identifies snippets of code and alerts Circle L to problems.

"We came across many instances in which we were unaware that we were infringing upon one of the libraries that is public domain -- we went ahead and gave that back to the community,'' Abraham says. At the same time, the CIO knows which innovation modifications Circle L can safely claim as its own. "We wanted to make sure that we weren't infringing on anyone else's intellectual property and that we weren't in a position where we would be forced to share any IP that we held dear to our hearts."

Ellen O'Brien, a former senior editor at CIO Decisions, is now a senior editor at Storage magazine. Write to her at

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