Are there legal concerns for creating add ons for large applications?


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I know this is more of a legal/lawyer question, but I'm sure others have run across this at some point so any insight is helpful.

I'm looking to create a mISV which builds and sells add on tools for large enterprise applications. The products I want to work with don't have APIs for directly accessing information, but store the majority of their data in a SQL database, so it is visible without reverse-engineering formats. The companies that create these applications have partner programs, but they are only for sales channel relationships, not technical ones.

Are there issues with creating products that work with the large applications without establishing a relationship/partnership with the company first?

Microsoft doesn't seem to require any sort of partnership to create 3rd party tools for their products. Do other large companies allow the same thing (Oracle, EMC, Autonomy) or does it vary?

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asked Aug 10 '10 at 23:22
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Joe Doyle
105 points
  • Note that if the company doesn't document their SQL database, it's possible that they may change its schema with a new product release and break your add-in. I'd be wary of using the SQL data unless it is documented. – Mike 9 years ago

2 Answers


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So yes I’m not a lawyer, so prior to making a decision suggest getting appropriate legal counsel.
So based on the legal decision on jail breaking of the iphone (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/apple-loses-big-in-drm-ruling-jailbreaks-are-fair-use.ars )as long as the code is owned and operated by the person you should be able to provide a way to modify what it does legally.

Things to consider:

  • Does the customer have a warranty with the underlying platform that the add-on change affect? If it invalidates the warranty and something happens it may cost you customers and/or cause legal liability.
  • I’d also suggest consider the possible liability for breaking a standard functionality in the platform that your code is changing. But I’d suggest that liability and legal issues you would have are very similar to creating any software product and are from the customer point of view. You don’t have a legal issue with the platform company you’re using as a base as long as the customer is already paying license fees and such for it and you’re not imbedding code from it without permission and without the license being paid.
  • answered Aug 11 '10 at 01:16
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    John Bogrand
    2,210 points
    • Thanks for the feedback. The products I'm working with are purely software, so there isn't a warranty like the iPhone scenario. Since I'm planning on just add on tools, the customer would be required to already own the and license the software that I'm looking to work with. I would not be embedding or distributing any part of the core product, just my own software. – Joe Doyle 9 years ago
    • Remeber that the Iphone scenario is their OS and so does apply. Some software offers a warranty so everything I'm mentioning is related to software develoment add-on. – John Bogrand 9 years ago
    • Enterprise software apps usually have service agreements that may raise issues when the customer or 3rd party does anything to the database although not like the iPhone. – Jeff O 9 years ago

    1

    If I understand correctly, you want to write applications that access customers' SQL data.

    The providers of the software that created the customer data have no rights to that data and, thus, cannot legally interfere with your using it.

    Hope this answers your Q.

    Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

    answered Aug 11 '10 at 02:25
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    Dana Shultz
    6,015 points

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