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Re: GPL 3 and patents question

From: Claudio Nieder
Subject: Re: GPL 3 and patents question
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 02:58:56 +0100
User-agent: Pan/ (As She Crawled Across the Table (Debian GNU/Linux))


> This isn't something related to the GPLv3, it is related to how patent
> law works.  So it is your task to check that you are not violating any
> patents, and you cannot put the burden on someone else.  This is one
> of the major problem with software patents, it is impossible to check
> that you are violating single or several patents, they are written in
> a very vauge language.

Not really. Living in a country which does not have software patents,
patent law does not concern me a lot. It would only if I start selling
my software e.g. into the US. And I have to fear only a lawsuite from
the side of the patent holder.

I fear GPL3 makes the situation worse for me, and want to know if this
is true.

Let's say I take GPLv3ed Program xyz and add to it some code. I don't
conduct any investigation about wether my code infringes on any patents,
as in Switzerland this is a non-issue. So I give modified xyz to a friend
here in Switzerland, who gives it to person X who lives in the USA.

With GPL2 I wouldn't see any problems for myself. The point I'm unsure
about is this sentence in GPL3:

"When you distribute a covered work, you grant a patent license to the
recipient, and to anyone that receives any version of the work,"

Can Person X sue me for violating GPL3 because of that sentence and ask me
for damages, because e.g. X was sued in the US from the holder of a
sotware patent?

If yes, than there is quite some difference between GPL2 and GPL3 for
anyone living in countries without software patents. They can contribute
to GPL3 software only, if they check that nowhere on the planet the added
code violates a software patent, even though in their place, this is not
an issue.

Does GPL3 really move some burden from contributors in area having
software patents to contributors in ares not having software patents?

Claudio Nieder, Kanalweg 1, CH-8610 Uster, Tel +41 79 357 6743
yahoo messenger: claudionieder aim: claudionieder icq:42315212      

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