Subject: Re: Question about documentation and patents
From: "Chris Travers" <chris.travers@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 12:26:35 -0800
Fri, 30 Nov 2007 12:26:35 -0800
On Nov 30, 2007 11:49 AM, Michael Tiemann <tiemann@opensource.org> wrote:

>
>
> My perception is informed by the fact that I often write documentation for
> things I don't understand.  Just because I document it doesn't mean I have
> the rights to the patents (known or unknown) that the subject matter covers.
>
>

IANAL, but obviously it would depend on the exact wording of the patent
license and whether or not you had the rights to the patents in question.

For example:  The contributors hereby grant you x, y, and z rights to any
patents they have pertaining to the methods or functions described herein
would clearly suggest that, yes, a patent right is granted.

However:  Contributors hereby grant you x, y, and z rights to any patents
that their contributions necessarily rely upon might not, except as would
relate to printing, reproducing, or transferring the documentation in the
formats provided (i.e. if contributor A had patents on features in a certain
XML schema that the documentation was released under, it would seem to apply
to that format, but not to any methods described in the documentation).

In short, I don't think most FOSS licenses grant such patents, but I see no
reason why one couldn't write a license to do that.  Presumably such
documentation-specific licenses would be outside of the approval process and
hence not under discussion here :-)

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers




On Nov 30, 2007 11:49 AM, Michael Tiemann <tiemann@opensource.org> wrote:


My perception is informed by the fact that I often write documentation for things I don't understand.  Just because I document it doesn't mean I have the rights to the patents (known or unknown) that the subject matter covers.

IANAL, but obviously it would depend on the exact wording of the patent license and whether or not you had the rights to the patents in question.

For example:  The contributors hereby grant you x, y, and z rights to any patents they have pertaining to the methods or functions described herein would clearly suggest that, yes, a patent right is granted.

However:  Contributors hereby grant you x, y, and z rights to any patents that their contributions necessarily rely upon might not, except as would relate to printing, reproducing, or transferring the documentation in the formats provided ( i.e. if contributor A had patents on features in a certain XML schema that the documentation was released under, it would seem to apply to that format, but not to any methods described in the documentation).

In short, I don't think most FOSS licenses grant such patents, but I see no reason why one couldn't write a license to do that.  Presumably such documentation-specific licenses would be outside of the approval process and hence not under discussion here :-)

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers