Intel's proposed BSD + Patent License

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Oct 30 21:15:23 UTC 2001

John Cowan writes:
 > Russell Nelson wrote:
 > > [  Please review this license.  If you do so promptly enough, we may
 > > be able to include it in tomorrow's board meeting.  -russ  ]
 > I have tried to turn around this response as fast as possible,
 > so please forgive any defects of detail.

Thank you.

 > So it does, but unfortunately not the right kind.  What the BSD license
 > gives away, the patent licensing language takes back.

Let me analogize: Let's say that I'm pointing a gun at you.  Are you
at any more disk if I let you know it's pointed at you?  What if I
tell you the conditions under which I will pull the trigger?

Essentially, we are all of us completely and totally screwed by the
patent system.  If I invent something that you have put into your
(unpublished -- at least as far as the patent system is concerned)
code for decades, and patent it, I 0WN J00.  Doesn't matter if you're
IBM and I'm Joe Blow, or vice-versa even.

 > Criterion 8 (License Must Not Be Specific To A Product) is violated,
 > in substance if not to the letter; this license is in effect specific
 > to Linux.

On the other hand, if they left that patent license off, we would
certify it.  However, you would have less freedom to use such patented
software because you don't have a license.

Patents suck THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much (picture me opening my
hands above my head to show you how bad patents are).  In essence,
every open source license which does not include a patent grant is
just so much hot air.  About the only thing we can reasonably do is be 
thankful that any patent rights are included, and approve the license
based on the copyright permissions granted.  Note that the Intel
BSD+Patent License does not make copying dependent upon patent
noninfringement.  The patent grant is a separate term.

And what about jurisdictions?  Jurisdiction is even more significant
in the patent field than in the copyright field.  At least copyright
lawyers have the Berne Convention.  So in a jurisdiction where
software cannot be patented, the patent grant is meaningless.

-russ nelson <sig at>
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