Slashdot has an interesting editorial by OSDL’s Dave Rosenberg on why Open Source business must own its Intellectual Property:
It’s easy to dismiss LinuxCare as “ahead of their time”, which is definitely true. But the fundamental and fatal flaw was that they based their products on someone else’s IP, with no IP of their own. When the market tanked abruptly, LinuxCare didn’t have the money to weather the storm and didn’t have consistent alternative revenue streams to combat the lack of services income.
I agree that to be successful on the long term, an Open Source company must definitely be a leader or major contributor in the project their business is built on. Leeching can work for a while, but it makes it easy for competitors to establish them as the better provider in the market.
This is a major reason why Nemein invests heavily in the communities its solutions are based on. We employ several Midgard and OpenPsa developers, and actively contract work to other members of the community.
Even though anybody can start offering competing services in the Midgard space, our level of commitment and expertise guarantees that we still get a fair share of the projects.
Of course, this might be better to call presence or merit instead of Intellectual Property, as the term can be argued to be a bit murky.