European Free Software / US patent issue

Benja Fallenstein b.fallenstein at
Thu Jan 16 18:14:51 UTC 2003

Hi group,

I'm a developer on a FS project [] which is partially 
based on technology that is patented in the US. We're currently trying 
to work out how to deal with this in order to remain Free, i.e. whether 
we can get a license from the patent holder (aking to the FSF-approved 
Open Patent License 2.0), whether we have to switch to a different, 
non-patented technology (which would severely impact the character of 
our project), etc.

One thing that has been brought up is that the patent is registered in 
the US, not, as far as we know, the EU, and that software patents are 
officially still-- hum, how to say this-- 'somewhat illegal' here. So, 
it seems like there could be a possibility of restricting access to 
non-US countries, as provided for by the LGPL clause 12 (don't know 
right off my head which clause it is in the GPL). This is obviously not 
desirable, but may be an option if we cannot get a patent license. 
However, I do not know enough about patent law to have a clue whether or 
not US patents are enforcible in Europe and whether the patent holder 
could file for a EU patent in addition to the US patent or anything. 
Also I have no idea whether or not we can continue to use the Savannah 
services for our project if we're forced to add a geographical 
limitation to our code's license.

I need some advice here-- not legal advice, obviously, which I guess you 
cannot give, but informed opinions. Any comments are appreciated. I hope 
that this can be considered more or less on-topic; if anybody has ideas 
for a better forum to ask about this, please tell me.

Thank you,
- Benja

More information about the Discussion mailing list