Hot answers tagged

19

Sparr's original answer was good, but he should have left in the bit about being sued. The point is that the language used in CC0 constitutes a legal hazard for anyone that receives a program under CC0 and uses it in good faith. This is the infamous patent clause of CC0: No trademark or patent rights held by Affirmer are waived, abandoned, surrendered, ...


15

There are two, completely independent, forms of intellectual property rights that can be used to protect software against unwanted copying/modification: Copyright Patents Copyright protects the "expression of an idea" and applies to the source code that gets written. Copyright protection is granted automatically at the moment that the code is written. ...


12

You can not patent code. You can only patent an invention which is implemented in your code. An invention is a new and unique way of doing something. Most of all, it must be something nobody did before. If anyone used the same technique which you describe in your patent, that's called prior art and invalidates your patent. So trying to get a patent on ...


12

Your understanding is incorrect. Patents are intellectual property rights that exist to protect an invention. They are distinct from copyrights, which protect the expression of an idea. Inventions protected by patents can have a software component (or in some cases be completely covered by software). The additional text in the BSD-3-Clause-Clear license ...


11

We have to differentiate here. A patent describes a technology on a general level. And patents can be implemented, by hardware or software. The owner of a patent can restrict implementations as he sees fit. The implementor has independent of the patent a normal copyright on his work. This is a problem for open source, as the open source licenses usually only ...


11

Suppose that I patent an algorithm, X. Then I develop and release an implementation of that algorithm, Y. I release Y with an open source license, granting permission for others to use and distribute Y. Generally speaking, it has always been assumed that my granting of permission to use and distribute Y has also been a grant to use and distribute X. However, ...


11

A practical example of the difference between software and patent licenses is FFmpeg. FFmpeg has support for many audiovisual codecs, many of which are covered by software patents in some countries. If you were to obtain a copy of the source code of FFmpeg and you were somewhere without software patents, like say Antarctica, then you could use it completely ...


9

Basically, this is designed to protect against using the patent system to circumvent the licence terms. The first clause means that if I publish anything under this licence, the users are assured that I will not sue them for breach of my patents, as an implicit licence on these is included. The second clause revokes that right in case someone creates a ...


9

The definition of an open standard is quite different from that of open source. The definition mostly governs the processes which are used to define standards. The "openness" applies to the definition process being open to input from any parties it concerns and being transparent to the general public. All it says about using an open standard is (emphasis ...


9

The MIT and BSD licenses were drafted before software patents were common. Therefore, they completely ignore the topic. For users of MIT- or BSD-licensed software, this creates the risk of a kind of submarine patents. A rights holder could release software involving patented technology under such an open-source license, and later try to sue users for their ...


8

All relevant GIF patents expired in 2004. Use freely. MP3 is patented in the united states, so theoretically you can use it in an open source... if it won't be published in the USA. TL;DR - Don't use freely. H264 - Also patented in the US. Same as MP3 above. In short, patents are national affairs, but if you want people of that country to be able to really ...


8

You cannot patent code. The US patent office is delivering patents for "algorithms" but even the validity of those is contested, and they won't be enforceable in many countries. Furthermore, to be eligible for a patent, a work must be novel and non-obvious. If you start from an existing project and your modification of its algorithm nature is not significant ...


8

There are many licenses that do not include an explicit patent license, e.g. MIT or GPL prior to version 3. These licenses only discuss copyright and warranties, not patents. In contrast, some licenses such as Apache 2 and GPLv3 include explicit patent grants. But there are a few issues regarding patentability: Depending on your jurisdiction, only original,...


7

The license says: 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 ...


7

By patent troll protection, I take it you refer to what the linked site expresses as "This license provides an express grant of patent rights from the contributor to the recipient". It is going to be very difficult to craft a licence that provides that protection but does not even require attribution, because of the problem of derivative works. Suppose ...


7

Why is it a problem? Patents are dangerous because they can put an additional restriction on the use and distribution of software which is not mentioned in the license. A company can freely contribute to an open source project and license their work under an open source license, but in the meantime file a patent on some aspect of their contribution. Later ...


7

Thinking of this a bit more, it benefits large projects, and sort of gives a clear answer to why many companies open source projects use the Apache license (Apple's Swift programming language comes to mind). The patent clause helps the health of the project, not necessarily the end users, or the maintainers (which was my perspective). Many large open source ...


6

In one of the links from your wikipedia link, Eben Moglen, the attorney for the Free Software Foundation that created and oversees the GPL, said, If you make an agreement which requires you to pay a royalty to anybody for the right to distribute GPL software, you may not distribute it under the GPL. GPLv3 provides an exception so that Microsoft and ...


6

No. These are public domain, which can be interprated as kind of Open Source, but in fact it's just public knowledge as the wheel is.


6

In general, no: once you've published your idea (whether as open source or not), it becomes part of the "prior art" and is no longer eligible to be patented. Patents are for innovation, and almost by definition something can't be innovative if it's just taking someone else's idea.


6

To answer the principal question in the body: yes, this would violate any such applicable patents. A patent provides the legal right to "exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent". Note that although some of those activities are implicitly commercial, others are not; making ...


6

A patent is a temporary legal monopoly on an invention, which grants to the holder the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, and/or importing that invention (source) or anything which embodies it. In most countries, the concept of "invention" now unfortunately includes ideas expressed in software. How can I get in ...


5

The MIT/Expat license is a permissive license (i.e. no copyleft), so re-licensing code with this license for the purposes of creating a derivative is normally OK. The LGPLv2.1/GPLv2+ licenses are not permissive, but they have explicit provisions that allow re-licensing to GPLv3, so re-licensing code with one of these license for the purposes of creating a ...


5

Well, this is a complicated matter. Generally open source uses and covers copyright. But the rights and freedoms granted by open source or free software can be restricted with more than just copyright. Software patents are an example of how these restrictions can be applied. Software patents restrict the rights of the user of open source software. The ...


5

When an invention is patented, the patent owner has exclusive rights to use that invention for the duration of the patent term, within the jurisdiction where the patent was issued. In general, there isn't any special exception for non-commercial usage. However, patent law is a national affair, and there might be such rules in some countries. Open-source ...


5

ZFS is a big deal not only on FreeBSD but also on Linux. It is a fine file system and the issue has been as far as I know as much about the patents that about the license of ZFS itself:its license is not compatible with the GPL which is problematic in the context of a Linux Kernel file system driver: [...]difficulties arise for Linux distribution ...


5

Have open-source contributors ever been sued for patent infringement in their contributions? What was the outcome? I do not know of any direct case where a contributor was sued for its contributions for patent infringement, but there are likely quite a few cases where users of supposedly infringing FOSS code were sued. The best example that comes to mind ...


5

No, the patent grant is not an additional restriction (and therefore React code can be used in a GPL software). The BSD license itself does not include a patent grant. This means that even if you have the right to use, modify and distribute the software per the license, doing so may infringe on someone's patents. With this (admittedly unusual and ...


5

Explicit is better than implicit. It is right that some have argued that the MIT and BSD licenses contain an implicit patent grant. However: These arguments have typically focussed on the US, leaving aside other legal systems that might be less open to finding far-reaching implied terms. AFAIK an implied patent grant is at this point a completely untested ...


4

There is the case of Versata v. Ameriprise and then XimpleWare v. Versata and Ameriprise, over some GPLv2-licensed XML parsing utility : https://opensource.com/law/14/7/lawsuit-threatens-break-new-ground-gpl-and-software-licensing-issues


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible