Subject: Re: license with patent grants appropriate for specifications?
From: Ian Jackson <>
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 11:40:43 +0000

Bob Scheifler writes ("license with patent grants appropriate for specifications?"):
> I'm looking for a license to use for specifications rather than code,
> that contains patent grants that are appropriate for specifications.
> In particular, the distinguishing characteristic in my mind is
> making grants for patents that would necessarily be infringed by
> "implementations of the Work", versus making grants for patents
> that are infringed by the Work itself.

Note that it is not good enough, when approving a specification which
involves patented techniques, for there to be a patent licence for
implementations of the specification.

This is because the users (and other developers) of an Open Source
program must be allowed to modify the program without fear of legal
repercussions.  Permitting only those modifications where the program
remains compliant with the spec is insufficient.

For the software to be Open Source, the patent licence must be
sufficiently broad that all derivatives of the original work are
covered; this usually means either a general royalty-free patent
licence is needed, or a patent licence written so that it covers all
software with the relevant copyright terms.