“Conflict” refers to incompatible licenses, and declared conflicts can have a broad or narrow scope, meaning they can only apply to certain files and not the whole work. Typically, these are conflicts between the license of an open source component and the declared license of the work as a whole. The most common we see is a GPL-licensed component in distributed commercial code, but conflicts may depend on the usage scenario. A GPL license in code that’s not distributed does not constitute a conflict. Component conflicts indicate incompatibility between two open source licenses and are generally considered less serious.
Note that we count “not licensed” components as declared conflicts with a broad scope. These components were copied from the internet, but the copyright holder didn’t specify a license or provide any other indication of usage permissions. Most lawyers consider this problematic.
Your attorney should review all the conflicts, but you may want to ask some questions about targets, or the company being acquired, first. Targets frequently cover internal tools that aren’t part of the product. One of the most common ways a “conflict” is resolved is for a target to respond, “Oh, that’s just a debugging tool we use.” Never mind!
After winnowing it down to a solid list, your attorney can use our red/yellow/green indications to prioritize their review and help determine what needs to be fixed and when—and what protections you need in the definitive agreement.