A prospective customer recently commented on our distribution policies and it prompted me to write a blog post and try to explain things in not-so-legal terms.

Possibly because of improper wording on our part many ISVs do not feel comfortable with our terms and conditions when it comes to using our products in a commercial product.

Here's what our agreement says:
"You are not allowed to integrate and distribute the SOFTWARE as part of branded commercial products meant for mass distribution. This is subject to a redistributable license. For more information and inquiries, please contact sales."

I've been re-reading this paragraph over and over while writing my post. and I have to agree that it is quite misleading and certainly does not reflect telerik's actual licensing policies for the last year or so. It is a fact, however, that we put the agreement in place awhile ago and many things have changed since then, especially our understanding of what's acceptable and what's not.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we've been focusing mostly on the very products and supplementary services rather than neatly worded agreements which narrowly spell out the customer's rights and limitations. Our genuine intent has always been to make our products available to as many developers as possible by following a licensing model that will not get in the way of widespread deployments. After all, we have no intentions of excluding developers working for ISVs as they are a good deal of our customer base as a matter of fact.
So, leaving the legal wording aside, here is a common sense explanation of what's OK from our point of view as a component vendor and what's not OK.

You can use the products freely in:

  • ASP.NET solutions for internal company use
  • Hosted ASP.NET applications
  • Commercial solutions deployed for end-customers by our customers
  • Shrink-wrapped software in which our controls are integrated

Just to make it really clear - our products are offered with a run-time royalty free license and ISVs can fearlessly add our products in their solutions. There are only 3 (threes) limitations which are discussed below and I will add comments as to why each of the scenarios requires a special arrangement with telerik.

Requires additional discussion with our sales team:

  • A product that exposes the design-time of our products. Examples: Visual Studio.NET plug-in, code generators. More or less, none of the commercial component vendors is OK with this type of usage.
  • Modules/components that DO not add significant primary functionality. Example: a DotNetNuke skin that is sold as a separate product and includes r.a.d.menu. Clearly, if r.a.d.menu were to be offered as part of a DNN skin sold for $50 and telerik only sold one license to the skin developer for $249, then we would be losing sales as customers would be buying the skin rather than our product. In such cases we offer skin developers a re-seller arrangement so that everyone has an incentive to enter into a relationship.
  • Open source projects. We are avid supporters of many open source initiatives, however, our standard policies do not allow the native integration of our products in open source products as there aren't any good ways to protect our products in such an environment. It's just too much legal lingo and administration to ensure that everyone downloading a project on SourceForge knows what's inside, what parts of the solution he/she can use freely and which he/she cannot and so on...

I would like to stress that the above-mentioned limitations are default limitations. By "default" I mean that unless you contact us you will have to abide by those stipulations. We can always try to find a custom arrangement which provides value to both parties.

If anyone feels unsure about the current license agreement, please drop us a line. We are working on an update and we will be glad to modify the wording in such a way as to let you guys to feel more comfortable. All comments are welcome.

About the Author

Vassil Terziev

As Chief Innovation Officer at Progress, Vassil Terziev is responsible for identifying growth strategies and new market opportunities, as well as promoting internal innovation.


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