Fortinet is an American company which offers a variety of security products, such as firewalls or antiviruses. On its products, Fortinet claims to run the ‘FortiOS’ operating system. The project gpl-violations.org, lead by Harald Welte, uncovered that ‘FortiOS’ is using the Linux kernel and numerous other free software products that are licensed exclusively under the GNU General Public License (GPL). The problem is, Fortinet doesn’t tell anything about those softwares to their clients, and doesn’t provide the full corresponding source code and a copy of the full license text. This is a complete violation of the GNU GPL. The worse is, that Fortinet probably knew this, because they used cryptographic techniques to conceal that usage…
Thus, the gpl-violations.org project was compelled to ask the court for a preliminary injunction, banning Fortinet from distributing its products, unless they are in full compliance with the GNU GPL license conditions. The Munich district court has granted this on Apr. 14, 2005. At this point, we can think that Fortinet should keep a low profile until we forget its ‘misunderstanding’ of the GNU GPL… But, this is not the case.
After this injuction, Fortiner made a paper for his resailers and integraters to explain its meaning about the issue. This paper, in French, is very funny. It isn’t because of a lot of orthographical mistakes in the document. The person who wrote this, probably someone from the marketing service of Fortinet, doesn’t know anything about what he’s dealing with. Well, he doesn’t understand nothing. With this text, you can build a big fortune text! Some examples:
- ‘L’organisation « projet Open Source GPL » (GNU Général Public License) a révélé de supposées enfreintes par Fortinet (UK) Ltd à la politique GPL.’ which means ‘The GPL Open Source project (GNU General Public License) revealed supposed violations by Fortinet towards GPL politics ‘.
- ‘Le fondateur de ce projet GPL et développeur du noyau Linux Harald Welte’ (‘GPL project founder and Linux kernel developer Harald Welte‘).
- ‘L’équipe du GPL a pris la mauvaise habitude de poursuivre systématiquement les entreprises ayant le vent en poupe et en forte croissance, comme Fortinet’ (‘The GPL team took the bad behaviour to purchase systematically dynamic companies with a strong growth, such as Fortinet‘). This sentence is very funny in French, cause ‘GPL’ means also ‘Liquefied Petroleum Gas‘, and ‘GPL team’ means more ‘an oil comapny’ than someting about free software 😉
Anyway, those terms doesn’t really mean something, there is a big confusion with the license, the free software community, the organisation gpl-violations.org and the GNU project. This document also accuse Mr. Welte of racket, which is in my viewpoint very outrageous. The only thing that Fortinet have won, is that everyone knows now that they are dishonest and ridiculous.