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Re: Patents and revocation clauses

On 16 Mar 1999, Henning Makholm wrote:
> Bruce Sass <bsass@bms.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca> writes:
> > Is a patent a one way ticket into non-free?
> Not necessarily.
> However, this kind of revocation clause is not the only way around
> the unknown-patent problem. I like the way the GPL handles the
> situation better, and certainly GPL haven't had any DFSG problems
> in that respect.

I hadn't really thought of it in those terms ("unknown-patent problem"),
but it does have the same result.  Thanks.

> Clause 7 of the GPL simply states that the right to make copies
> of the covered program does not apply if there's a patent which
> applies to the code and whose owner contests the free distribution
> of the code.
> Say that IBM released their code under GPL in the above scenario.
> Company B might still go to court, and they might succesfully argue
> that their patent is valid and applies to the program. However, in the
> same moment the judge decides this, >poof< the GPL effectively
> vanishes from all copies of the program (or at least all copies in the
> same jurisdiction).

So GPLed becomes non-free, because no license == non-free?

> IBM wouldn't be stuck with having licenced out
> infringing code, so company B wouldn't probably get more out of their
> suit than if there had been a revocation clause which IBM had
> voluntarily invoked.

:(  It sounds like including a patented algorithm in your code could
be tantamount to including a revocation clause in the license you
distribute with the code.

-- Bruce

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