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From "Niclas Hedhman" <nic...@hedhman.org>
Subject Re: use of Apache license for non-software purposes
Date Tue, 14 Oct 2008 05:58:12 GMT
I am not a lawyer, and this doesn't constitute legal advice. For a
final word, you should consult a IP Rights lawyer.

You are effectively in the same position as the software industry. If
I take (for instance) Linux, and 'copies' the design by understanding
what the code does and re-writing in another way, so that an automated
checker would not classify it as the same code, it would still be
infringement of the GPL. The important bit to understand is that (for
GPL), if you do something/anything with the GPL'd code as the base
(what they call Derivative Works) but don't release that works under
GPL, you have breach the GPL and have no rights to use the codebase in
the first place. I don't think any court has so far concluded how
much/little 'inspiration' from someone else's work is required to
still categorize it as Derivative Works.

Now, that said; If you were to choose the Apache License for your
design, you are offering a derivative works friendly license. I.e.
Someone else can take your exact drawings, with or without
modifications, and release that under restrictive terms (closed
source), with very little required by such person/company (see license
for details).

There are examples of open source licensed hardware designs. IIRC, Neo
FreeRunner schematics and CAD drawings are released under an open
source license. Perhaps you should contact them and see what their
findings were.

Cheers
Niclas

On Tue, Oct 14, 2008 at 5:27 AM, Patrick Andrews
<patrick@riversimple.com> wrote:

> I am working on a hardware project in the automotive industry. The small
> company I work for is committed to an open source approach to the
> development and plan in the next few months to donate all our initial design
> schematics to a newly-created foundation which will make them available on
> the internet. The foundation will invite contributors to help us improve the
> product (a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car).
>
> I am trying to get my head around the licensing issues. As I understand it,
> it would not work if our foundation simply adopts a software license such as
> the GPL or the Apache license, since these are focused mainly at copyright
> protection and copyright will not protect the ideas represented in the
> schematics, making our license effectively unenforceable. They would be
> unenforceable because someone can simply look at our schematics and, once
> they've understood the idea represented, they can make their own schematics
> and ignore the terms of the license. We can forbid this under our license
> but proving a breach will be tricky.
>
> We are wondering whether the foundation should instead focus on registering
> and licensing patents. Another alternative (or supporting strategy) might be
> trademark protection - but this is only effective if the trademark becomes
> one of value (of course we hope it will become one...)  Does anyone have any
> thoughts on this? Would the Apache license nevertheless be a reasonable
> starting point when approaching this?
>
> Patrick
>
> --
> Patrick Andrews
>
>
>
>
>
>
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