For Approval: Broad Institute Public License (BIPL)

John Cowan cowan at
Fri Jul 14 17:17:01 UTC 2006

Karin Rivard scripsit:

> MIT has not announced that, on its own, it would pursue users of the 
> open source code in order to enforce patents against users of the 
> open source code.  

That is, hmmm, most carefully worded.  "MIT has not announced [...] that
it would pursue" is by no means the same as "MIT has announced [...] that
it would not pursue".  The latter, expressed in legally binding words,
would be an Extremely Good Thing.  The former, not so much.

> MIT's position is that we have not knowingly filed any patents that
> cover the use of the software to be implemented under the BIPL.
> However, MIT has over 2000 patents in its portfolio, many of which
> have been licensed to third parties exclusively.  Our exclusive
> license enables the exclusive licensee to name MIT as a party to an
> infringement lawsuit as the patent owner--this may only be done if
> legally necessary in pursuing the infringer and only after discussion
> (but not permission) from MIT.  Because of wonderfully creative and
> appropriate patent claim interpretations, it is possible that patents we
> never anticipated covering use of the open source code could, in fact,
> have claims that cover use of the open source code.

If that's what worries you, then add a proviso to the Open Source license
of your choice stating that its patent permissions do not apply to any
MIT patents that are exclusively licensed to third parties.  This would
leave the user no worse off than in the case of any other submarine
patent that might torpedo an Open Source program.

John Cowan  cowan at
The Penguin shall hunt and devour all that is crufty, gnarly and
bogacious; all code which wriggles like spaghetti, or is infested with
blighting creatures, or is bound by grave and perilous Licences shall it
capture.  And in capturing shall it replicate, and in replicating shall
it document, and in documentation shall it bring freedom, serenity and
most cool froodiness to the earth and all who code therein.  --Gospel of Tux

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