Acceptable patent license for free software?

MJ Ray mjr at
Fri Apr 4 13:06:17 UTC 2008

"zBog BIV" <bogdanb.frie0606 at> wrote:
> Can someone license the use of a patent to others as long they don't try to
> enforce their own patents ?

I think one can, as long as one makes it conditional only on not
attempting to enforce their patents *against that software*.
Otherwise, it is contaminating other software (and maybe hardware and
actions too!) which is more clearly a problem when using the Debian
Free Software Guidelines, but I think it may be a problem for the Free
Software Definition's consequences.  At best, it's a practical pain in
the bum.

Also, I really dislike "Intellectual Property" licences that attempt
to use copyright to enforce patent clauses - only the patent licences
should terminate against patents, to avoid exporting software patent
harm to places which would otherwise be free from them.  I think GPLv3
may be such an Intellectual Property licence, but I haven't reminded
myself about it today.  I don't think that necessarily stops it being
a free software licence, but combined Intellectual Property licensing
seems a surprising, dangerous path to be walking.

Hope that helps,
MJ Ray (slef)
Webmaster for hire, statistician and online shop builder for a small
worker cooperative
(Notice tel:+44-844-4437-237

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