Acceptable patent license for free software?

simo simo.sorce at
Fri Apr 4 16:03:03 UTC 2008

On Fri, 2008-04-04 at 14:06 +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> "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.

Patents on software are a pain, period!
We all know that.
But we need damage control, or risk higher damages.

> Also, I really dislike "Intellectual Property" licences that attempt
> to use copyright to enforce patent clauses

This is technically non-sense, I know what you mean, but you cannot "use
copyright law to enforce patent claims".
These kind of licenses are just combined copyright+patent licenses.

>  - 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.

Head under sand does not help either.


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