Subject: RE: license with patent grants appropriate for specifications?
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 19:52:38 -0800

> So, is it reasonable to take the following approach:
>   - issue the specification itself under an existing open source license,
>     one that in and of itself does not grant any patent rights with
> respect
>     to implementations of the spec
>   - provide separately a patent-only license that grants patent rights
>     to compliant implementations of that specification (or broader if
>     one wishes)
> rather than trying to bundle these together into a single open source
> license? The patent-only license, not being a source license at all,
> presumably does not have to be an open source license.

Most robust open source licenses contain both copyright grants and patent
grants. These licenses should be sufficient. But if the only thing that is
being contributed is a patent without any copyrightable subject matter, then
a standalone patent license would be needed. But that patent license must be
compatible with open source. It cannot impose conditions that are
incompatible with open source.

So, for example, in the Marid working group at IETF, Yahoo licensed
DomainKeys under a copyright/patent license, but Microsoft used only a
patent license (in that latter case, one that was not compatible with open
source).

/Larry

Lawrence Rosen
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (www.rosenlaw.com)
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
707-485-1242  ●  fax: 707-485-1243
Author of “Open Source Licensing: Software Freedom 
               and Intellectual Property Law” (Prentice Hall 2004)
 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: ipr-wg-bounces@ietf.org [mailto:ipr-wg-bounces@ietf.org] On Behalf
> Of Bob Scheifler
> Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 3:46 PM
> To: lrosen@rosenlaw.com
> Cc: license-discuss@opensource.org; 'Ipr-Wg@Ietf.Org'
> Subject: Re: license with patent grants appropriate for specifications?
> 
> > The compromise I try to reach with patent owners in the context of
> industry
> > standards is that
> > (1) patent owners may choose to limit the scope of their patent license
> > grants to compliant implementations, and
> > (2) those patent licenses may not restrict anyone from creating and
> > distributing non-compliant implementations.
> >
> > As to the specification copyright license, it is consistent with open
> source
> > principles if it grants you permission to create derivative works of the
> > specification.
> 
> So, is it reasonable to take the following approach:
>   - issue the specification itself under an existing open source license,
>     one that in and of itself does not grant any patent rights with
> respect
>     to implementations of the spec
>   - provide separately a patent-only license that grants patent rights
>     to compliant implementations of that specification (or broader if
>     one wishes)
> rather than trying to bundle these together into a single open source
> license? The patent-only license, not being a source license at all,
> presumably does not have to be an open source license.
> 
> - Bob
> 
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