Acceptable patent license for free software?

Florian Weimer fw at
Fri Apr 4 16:31:29 UTC 2008

* Simon Josefsson:

> I wonder if that is compatible with the current patent system.  Isn't
> there some requirement that you need to protect infringement on your
> patent somehow?

No, you're confusing this with trademarks, which may turn into generic
names if not enforced (like using "to google" for searching using Live).

> Or is that FUD, and that it is possible to license away rights to
> implement techniques under a patent "for any purpose" to anyone?

It is possible, but who is going to do that?  Do we need it?  Is it
acceptable if builders of closed boxes that happen to run GPL software
(among other things) get a free ride?

> In particular, what I'd like to understand is whether a patent
> reciprocal license is in general incompatible with free software.  Would
> a license like this like this be unacceptable?
>    Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, X hereby grants
>    to You a perpetual, worldwide, non-exlusive, no-charge, royalty-free,
>    irrevocable (except as stated in this License) patent license on
>    patent X to be used for any purpose.  If You institute patent
>    litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or
>    counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging either direct or contributory
>    patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under
>    this License shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.

I think it's DFSG-free, but it fails some of the more obscure freeness
tests that have been proposed.

> There is a problem in writing guidelines if nobody sets an example by
> using some (to be determined) free software friendly patent license.

What about the Ericsson license grant?  IIRC, it's GPL-specific, though,
which will drive some people nuts.

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