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From Doug Cutting <cutt...@apache.org>
Subject Re: A latent disclosure walked into a bar ...
Date Tue, 31 May 2011 18:11:31 GMT
On 05/31/2011 02:37 PM, Benson Margulies wrote:
> So, respecting the icla, someone submits a patch to a project and
> notifies that some university claims a patent on the algorithm
> therein. The code is the 'original work' of the submitter. As a PMC
> member, what do I do?

The risk of any piece of software being accused by a litigious patent
owner as implementing some patent is never non-zero.  Whether a patent
is valid and whether a given piece of software implements the patent can
only be conclusively resolved by a court.  Until then we need to
estimate the risk to a project.

It depends in part on the likelihood that the owner of the patent will
seek license fees from Apache's users.  Google has a patent on a
technique called MapReduce.  Apache Hadoop implements a technique called
MapReduce inspired by a technical paper published by the authors of the
patent.  Google has, to date, not sought license fees for any patents it
owns.  So, while their patent may create some risk for Hadoop, that risk
might be small.

Other considerations when evaluating risk are whether the invention is
central to the project or whether it might easily be removed without
greatly impairing the project.  Also consider whether other (perhaps
slightly inferior) methods might be used instead if the project is ever
accused of infringing the patent.

Doug


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