What does this mean?

"This license provides an express grant of patent rights from the contributor to the recipient."

  • This doesn't sound like very legally sound wording. Does the license contain any other language about patent rights? In isolation, I guess that a judge would read this as "grant of patent rights for all patented processes used in the software," but I am neither a lawyer nor a judge. What license does this language appear in?
    – apsillers
    Nov 23, 2016 at 16:19
  • i have seen this in mit licence. Nov 24, 2016 at 10:14
  • @ChrisHarris do you have a link? Nov 24, 2016 at 10:46
  • 3
    This cannot be the standard MIT license. The standard MIT license contains no patent grant. It was probably added by the author of the software and as @apsillers remarked is problematic because it is very unclear/ambiguous.
    – Zimm i48
    Nov 24, 2016 at 12:39
  • 1
    Oh sorry, it was Apache license. here is the link - choosealicense.com/licenses/apache-2.0. What is this patent Use means? Nov 24, 2016 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


The patent grant in the Apache-2.0 license (paragraph 3) is much more voluminous than your one-line summary. It says,

  1. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this section) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell, sell, import, and otherwise transfer the Work, where such license applies only to those patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed by their Contribution(s) alone or by combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contribution(s) was submitted. If You institute patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Work or a Contribution incorporated within the Work constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.

So, what does all that mean? IANAL and TINLA, but it seems to me to mean that if the license grantor has used patented material in the software, the grantor allows you to use the software, including the patented components, freely -- but if you sue anyone over this use of patented material, then your license is nullified.

  • "then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate" does not mean the whole license. IANAL. Mar 28, 2020 at 11:45

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