software patents (STWL: please comment)

Bernhard Fastenrath bfastenrath at
Sun Nov 14 07:18:10 UTC 2004

John Cowan wrote:
> Bernhard Fastenrath scripsit:
>>I do not restrict this to a particular open source license or a 
>>particular open source software, so a patent owner who sues a user of 
>>GPL'ed software for infringement of his intellectual property claims by 
>>that software automatically terminates all his STWL licenses.
> That boils down to this:
> 1.  Alice releases software under the GPL.
> 2.  Bob rips off Alice's software and reuses it in his proprietary program.
> 3.  Alice, incensed, sues Bob for copyright infringement.
> 4.  All of Alice's STWL licenses go bye-bye.

No, they don't. Alice has to have a software patent claim in order for 
the paragraph 5 to take effect at all. Also the STWL is a BSD-style 
license and this case does not apply as Bob can do whatever he wants to 
do with the software Alice wrote as long as he gives credit to Alice and 
observes paragraphs 3 and 4.

In order for your example to apply Alice would have to have a software 
patent that applies to a software released under the STWL and sue Bob 
for infringement, which would be rather strange behaviour. You are 
right, however, that this would terminate all Alice's STWL licenses.

> If I were Alice (and I am, because I have released software under the GPL),
> I wouldn't touch any STWL-licensed software.

Because you want to retain the right to patent any part of your GPL 
software and sue all users of your software?

Let's assume the FSF switches to a GPL+PIP license and effectivly stops 
Microsoft, IBM and whoever else uses GPL'ed software to either use that 
software or to refrain from any patent actions against open source 
software [users]. That's the idea, if the wording is wrong give me a 
hint what should be changed.

-- <>

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