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Not really a cocoa question, but maybe one many of us could benefit from having answered. Is there a wikipedia or something like it online where coders can get answers to IP patent and copyright questions?

It is likely that you will have to hire qualified legal counsel just like everyone else. Mostly it helps to stay under the radar by not becoming too successful. That alone will help to keep you out of the courtroom. If you become successful enough to need legal services, you will be able to afford them at that time. Of course this is too glib. You can either research it yourself and google away, or hire someone else to do your research for you. Understanding patent law is not every developer’s cup of tea, but there hardly can be shortcuts to doing so. I would rather ask if there is a wikipedia or something like it online where my interlocutor can go to obtain some common sense and something resembling a work ethic.

These should get you started and indicate the vagueness in scope of the original question.

Somebody asked this question in an online forum:

* I would like to make a Client/Server communications application that I feel would be wanted by home users and companies. I want to know if I would be able to license the Client component of my application as Open-source(GPL), and have the Server component in a Propriety license.

I would want to operate a public server for personal use(for the home and small business users), while still having something to legally prevent another developer from copying the protocol I made (from reading the source-code of the Client component) and making their own server implementation to work with my client (which would allow large corporations to use it for free). I wouldn’t want companies to profit from increased productivity as a direct result of my work while I get nothing for my efforts. (When I refer to companies, I mean ones large enough that it would be more practical for them to operate a server within thier own network).

I would much rather license the server to companies if they want to use the Client in their internal network, and they can use the same freely availible open-source Client on their workstations.

I’m thinking that doing this would be possible if I set up a company to license the Server component and copyrighting the protocol/server in the company name. I would then publish the Client under a seperate entity(like maybe under my real name, although I would be the director or the company if I made one, so I’m not sure if they are linked in a legal sense, which I wouldn’t want them to be) and make that availible under GPL, but noted with permission from the company to use the protocol so it can connect to the server that’s set up, that’s licensed from the company I created. Other clients created from derivatives of my Client component by other people would be licensed to use the protocol for the use as a Client too. *

This is how it was answered:

You’ll need to consult legal authorities in whatever country you happen to be in. Contrary to what many seem to believe, there is no “international” IP law, and much of what you are talking about would be covered under the law of contracts, which isn’t even the same state-to-state in the U.S., much less other countries.