[Top][All Lists]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Patents again

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Patents again
Date: Sat, 09 Oct 2004 22:34:01 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux)

Abdullah Ramazanoglu <> writes:

> begin  <> dedi ki:
>> In gnu.misc.discuss Abdullah Ramazanoglu <> wrote:
>>> begin  Kari Laine <> dedi ki:
>>> A particularly interesting question for me among others is, what is the
>>> status of a patented code introduced into a GPL program by the patent
>>> owners themselves? Do they automatically give up their relevant patent
>>> litigation rights against *all* GPL software base?
>> They don't automatically give up their patent rights but if they want
>> to be able to legally distribute a GPL program with their code introduced
>> into it then they must provide a GPL-compatible license for the patent.
>> If they decide to distribute such code without a patent license then
>> such distribution is illegal and may count against them if they want
>> to hunt down users of their code.
> Giving it a second thought it seems that by merely accepting GPL terms
> they automatically give up their patent rights against GPL codebase,
> though IANAL.

That is like saying by calling a plumber you automatically pay him.
This isn't so: you still have to do the payment yourself, and the
plumber can't just pilfer the amount from a wallet lying around.

> But it doesn't end here. What if they indirectly and from multiple
> untraceable sources sneak patented code into GPL codebase? It should
> be easy to do, at least I can readily think of a couple of ways.

It does not matter how the code got there.  The patent holders have a
right to payment if their code gets used without a licence, regardless
of whether they put it there themselves or not.  You can sue them to
stop distributing code under the GPL without a non-restrictive patent
licence.  But you have to sue them: there is no automatism involved.
In particular, the party receiving the code has no base to sue for a
patent licence, only the party that has the copyright on the original
GPLed code can sue for compliance.

> Probably, if they introduced the code themselves. Doubtful if they
> used indirect means.

It does not matter at all who introduced the stuff.  It is not illegal
to inject patented code into GPL stuff.  It is only illegal to
distribute the stuff without granting a non-restrictive patent
licence.  And the only one that can grant such a licence is the patent
holder, regardless of who put the code in.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

reply via email to

[Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread]