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Re: Patents and revocation clauses

Bruce Sass <bsass@bms.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca> writes:

> > 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?

I wouldn't put it that way. GPL means that the copyright holder has
done anything he can reasonably be expected to do to make the software

The problem with patents is that one can violate them unknowingly
simply by independently inventing the patented algorithm again without
knowing that somebody patented it.

If Debian were to stop distributing software we (or the author) knew
for sure contained no algorithm with a valid patent on it, there
wouldn't be a single line of code left in souce/main.

Therefore, in the real world, we have to make do with the lesser
requirement that there can't be any COPYRIGHT problems with using
and distributing the software freely.

> :(  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.

Not exactly. A revocation clause means that it can be illegal for me
to distribute the software because the author THINKS there is a patent
problem and therefore has revoked his license.

A free license means that it is legal for me to distribute the
software UNLESS there IS a patent problem - and the copyright holder
is not the one who judges whether there is one or not.

(In the case where the copyright holder is also the patent owner if
could probably be argued in court that his putting the program under
a free copyright license implies that he also grants the necessary
patent licenses to do whatever the copyright license claims to allow.)

Henning Makholm

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