Free Software Foundation sues Cisco, hopes to end 5-year 'Whack-a-Mole' battle

December is looking to be a busy month for the legal eagles at Cisco. Earlier this month independent network services vendor Multiven said it has sued Cisco for antitrust related to Cisco's SMARTnet service, today the Free Software Foundation said it has slapped a lawsuit alleging Cisco infringed the organization's software licenses for a number of Linksys products.

It appears that FSF issued the lawsuit out of frustration over its 5-year battle with Cisco to ensure that the networking giant's consumer gear meets with the FSF's licenses. FSF Licensing Compliance Engineer Brett Smith writing in his blog likened the FSF's battle as a "running game of Whack-a-Mole."

The FSF alleges that "in the course of distributing various products under the Linksys brand Cisco has violated the licenses of many programs on which the FSF holds copyright, including GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library."

Smith said the FSF in 2003 learned that the Linksys WRT54G wireless router used a GNU/Linux system in its firmware, "but customers weren't receiving all the source code they were entitled to under our licenses." It later emerged that other Cisco products were not in full compliance either, according to Smith.

Cisco today issued a statement saying that it's a strong supporter of open source. "Cisco takes its open source software obligations and responsibilities seriously and is disappointed that a suit has been filed by the Free Software Foundation related to our work with them in our Linksys Division. We are currently reviewing the issues raised in the suit but believe we are substantially in compliance. We have always worked very closely with the FSF and hope to reach a resolution agreeable to the company and the foundation."

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