Savio Rodrigues asks this question over at InfoWorld with regard to Microsoft shoving it into a deal between it, Renault, and Novell, stating:
[W]hy should a customer care about IP assurance? IP indemnification is a vendor issue, just like ensuring environmental rules or workplace safety regulations are being adhered to. It's a disgrace that vendors have made indemnification a customer concern.
I could not agree more. Yet it is the number one legal issue I deal with, and it's not just an open-source thing.
I was talking with senior counsel from a Very Large Proprietary Software Company the other day and he mentioned that four years ago, no one asked about this. Now it's everyone's top concern.
It need not be. The risks are so low that I have more chance of being eaten by snow elves than I do of being sued by my vendor if I'm GE, Mom-and-Pop shop #283,038,312, or whomever. It's a useless question, but one that US customers ask all the time. I say "US" because we.