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From Jeffrey Thompson <jt...@us.ibm.com>
Subject Re: [PROPOSAL] new license FAQs
Date Mon, 12 Jun 2006 15:25:46 GMT
Doug Cutting <cutting@apache.org> wrote on 06/09/2006 06:49:35 PM:

> Here are two proposed new license FAQs, based on recent discussions 
> here.  Do folks feel these express the intent of the ASF?
> 
> ---------------
> 
> Q. I'm paid to contribute to an Apache project.  Does my employer have 
> to file a CCLA with Apache?
> 
> A. No.  The CCLA lets employers give explicit permission to their 
> employees to contribute to Apache.  In many cases, employment 
> relationships (employment agreements, work-for-hire laws, etc.) would 
> prohibit employees from contributing to Apache.  The CCLA provides a 
> convenient way for employers to explicitly permit their employees to 
> contribute, protecting employees from possible misunderstandings with 
> their employers.
> 
> Employees are free to obtain permission from their employers by means 
> other than the CCLA if they choose.  Each committer must file an ICLA 
> with Apache, vouching that they indeed have permission to contribute 
> their work.
> 

CCLAs help clarify issues and bring certainty.  Certainty on legal issues 
is a Good Thing(tm).  So, I think we should be a little more encouraging 
regarding CCLAs.  While they aren't required, they really are highly 
recommended.  At least, that's my view.

> ---------------
> 
> Q. If my company owns patents, and contributes software that does not 
> implement those patents, is there any way that our patents might later 
> be implemented by another contributor and thus be subject to free 
licensing?
> 
> A.  No.  Patents subject to free licensing are defined at the time of 
> contribution.  If your contribution completes an implementation of your 
> patent at the time of contribution, then your patent is subject to free 
> licensing (even if you acquire your patent later).  But if the 
> implementation of your patent is not complete until another party 
> subsequently contributes, that would not cause your patent to become 
> subject to free licensing.
> 

As I mentioned in other notes, I don't think that answer describes the 
general consensus.  But, in any event, the question and answer don't match 
up.  The question asks about a patent not implemented by the contribution. 
 The answer addresses patents that are partially implemented by the 
contribution.  The answer to the question as posed would be more like:

A.  No.  The patents that are licensed include only those that are 
infringed by the contributions by themselves or by the contributions in 
combination with the remainder of the code in the project -- that is, the 
contributions form part of the implementation of the patent and the 
remainder of the code includes the rest of the implementation.  If the 
implementation of the patent doesn't involve the contributions at all, the 
patent is not licensed even if it is part of the same project. 

My 2 cents.

> ---------------
> 
> Doug
> 
Jeff

Staff Counsel, IBM Corporation  (914)766-1757  (tie)8-826  (fax) -8160
(notes) jthom@ibmus  (internet) jthom@us.ibm.com (home) jeff@beff.net
(web) http://www.beff.net/ 

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