[License-review] Approval: BSD + Patent License

Tzeng, Nigel H. Nigel.Tzeng at jhuapl.edu
Thu Jan 21 14:34:42 UTC 2016


I don’t think that either of these statements addresses any of my questions other than stating “trust me”.

What can Intel do with BSD+PL that you cannot do with UPL?  This should be a very simple question to answer.

As a patent lawyer and license submitter you should also be able to answer how, as license steward, you believe your license behaves when presented with the scenario where code has been released under BSD+PL and a patent is later granted.  Not just kick the potential bug upstream to Apache and Eclipse for them to answer.

Given that a significant objective is to provide more patent safety over BSD this is a relevant concern that should require a more rigorous answer than “This ain’t my first rodeo kid” or “that would make the license too complicated for folks to understand”.

I don’t care if the code is easy to read and well documented if it doesn’t actually do what it is intended to do.

Personally, I am not opposed to BSD+PL and have never been a fan of the argument that a license should be rejected purely on the grounds of license proliferation.  I agree with you that there is plenty of room for a second permissive, GPL V2 compliant license that offers patent protection.  However, if we’re going to have that litmus test, then that criteria should be applied to all submissions.



ObDis:  Not representing JHU/APL in any official capacity.

Nigel Tzeng
Space Exploration Sector
Embedded Applications Group
11100 Johns Hopkins Road
Laurel, MD 20723


From: License-review <license-review-bounces at opensource.org<mailto:license-review-bounces at opensource.org>> on behalf of "Smith, McCoy" <mccoy.smith at intel.com<mailto:mccoy.smith at intel.com>>
Reply-To: OSI License Review <license-review at opensource.org<mailto:license-review at opensource.org>>
Date: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 5:33 PM
To: OSI License Review <license-review at opensource.org<mailto:license-review at opensource.org>>, "mike at opensource.org<mailto:mike at opensource.org>" <mike at opensource.org<mailto:mike at opensource.org>>
Subject: Re: [License-review] Approval: BSD + Patent License


I’m definitely sensitive to the question of license proliferation (and believe I may have some bona fides in that regard: http://www.cnet.com/news/intel-to-stop-using-open-source-license/), having served on the first iteration of the License Proliferation Committee of OSI circa 2005. Which is why I submit this license somewhat advisedly and suggesting that it be a special purpose license under OSI’s categorization system, as it exists primarily to solve a particular problem.


As to the scope of the patent grant itself and efforts that a licensor might engage in to undermine it, I again refer back to Apache & Eclipse (or for that matter, other OSI-approved licenses with patent grants of equal or similar formulation).  I believe these license grants to be reasonably clear and generally well understood, and believe that the BSD + Patent grant does the same.  Another goal here is to adopt the simplicity and brevity of BSD 2-clause and the Apache/Eclipse patent grant.  One could of course draft numerous clauses and definitions that more specifically address various worst case scenarios – and many of us have read, or written, proprietary licenses doing just that – at the expense of such simplicity and brevity, as well as at the expense of casting off the comfort and familiarity that many users have with the language of these licenses.


From: License-review [mailto:license-review-bounces at opensource.org] On Behalf Of Tzeng, Nigel H.
Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 6:36 AM
To: License submissions for OSI review; mike at opensource.org<mailto:mike at opensource.org>
Subject: Re: [License-review] Approval: BSD + Patent License

The license is short so review by the FSF should be quick.  If someone is requesting a “niche use” license is it unreasonable to say “prove to me that it actually fills that niche”?  However unlikely what if the FSF says “No” or just doesn’t answer for a while?


So exactly why do we need a BSD variant with patent grant when we already have a MIT variant with a patent grant that the FSF has already publicly agreed as GPL V2 compliant on their website?

All of a sudden license proliferation is a non-issue?  That’s fine by me as I’ve never been that much of a fan of that concern.

Are any of the other concerns voiced two years ago about UPL any better addressed by BSD+Patent Grant?  I guess without the Larger Works clause there is one less file to look for.

However, I would ask that if the BSD+PL:

“(b) by combination of their copyrighted material with the work of authorship to which such copyrighted material was added by such copyright holder or contributor, if, at the time the copyrighted material was added, such addition causes such combination to be covered by the patent claim. The patent license shall not apply to any other combinations which include their copyrighted material. “

better fulfills the same role as the UPL:

“(b) any piece of software and/or hardware listed in the lrgrwrks.txt file if one is included with the Software (each a “Larger Work” to which the Software is contributed by such licensors),”

Because at least the lrgrwkrs.txt file is explicit.

Q. Does using the “at the time the copyrighted material was added” phrase means that if I want to do my due diligence I need to look at commit times and when patents were granted to make sure someone hasn’t submarined a patent in there?

Q: What happens if someone commits changes to a BSD+PL licensed reference implementation that at the time of commit there isn’t a patent BUT later on they apply for and a patent is granted to them?  Do I have a patent license or not?



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