What is “proprietary”?

“Proprietary” – what’s that? When looking it up on the web, one can find various definitions for it:

  • In the Proprietary article on Wikipedia, proprietary components are defined as “components that are unique to a specific manufacturer, and do not conform to preset standards”
  • AskOxford defines it as a product “marketed under a registered trade name”.
  • The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as “something that is used, produced, or marketed under exclusive legal right of the inventor or maker”.
  • In Wiktionary, proprietary is defined as “Manufactured exclusively by the owner of intellectual property rights, as with a patent or trade secret”.
  • proprietary software is defined in Wikipedia as “software with restrictions on using, copying and modifying as enforced by the proprietor”.
  • And Webopedia tells us that “proprietary is the opposite of open”, and that “it also implies that the company has not divulged specifications that would allow other companies to duplicate the product.”

But when reading articles and comments from analysts, journalists, and others, “proprietary” is often used in a sense of “not in more than 90% of all computers”.
So who has the definition power for the word “proprietary”?
And: Does anyone believe that OpenSPARC and OpenSolaris are proprietary?

One Response to “What is “proprietary”?”

  1. kangcool Says:

    Could never work that one out. PowerPC and Sparc you can get the designs and make them yourself just like arm etc..

    But try and make a chip based on the “open” non-proprietary x86 and your looking at a law suite – go figure?

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