Subject: Re: GIF/LZW patent
From: "Ben Tilly" <btilly@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 15:32:22 -0700

On 10/11/06, Michael Bernstein <webmaven@cox.net> wrote:
> On Thu, 2006-09-28 at 15:15 +0900, stephen@xemacs.org wrote:
> > Yes, you can negotiate for the whole thing.  But it's hard to break up
> > into parts.  Patents, on the other hand, naturally come piecemeal.
>
> Really? How do I license only one claim from a patent?

If I own a patent, nothing that I know of (as a non-lawyer of course)
stops us from writing a contract giving you a license to use one claim
from my patent.  You'd then have permission to create products that
are described by that claim, but you'd have no permission to make
products that fit my other claims.  That looks to me like licensing
only one claim from a patent.

It may not be possible or practical disentangle my patent claims from
each other so that you can license only one claim.  But that is a
question of what the patent says, and not of what I am free to
contract.

> Perhaps that steps too close to asking for legal advice. Let's try this
> version of the question instead:

Well as a non-lawyer, people are less likely to take my musings as
legal advice. ;-)

> How widespread is the practice of licensing only a subset of a patent's
> claims?

This I do not know.  But I do know that it is common for patent
licenses to restrict the rights of licensees to practice the patents
only for certain uses, applications or geographic markets.

Cheers,
Ben