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From Henri Yandell <bay...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Patents and contributions in Contributor License Agreement
Date Sun, 01 May 2011 04:57:54 GMT
2011/4/28 David Grünbaum <dv.grunbaum@gmail.com>:
> Hi,
> I'm currently conduction a master thesis on Android Open Source Project, and as a law
student I am studying the legal aspects of the project.
> My question is how to interpret the Contributor License Agreement? It uses the same wording
as the one provided by the Apache foundation and that is why I feel that this forum might
be the right place to answer my questions.
> Can a small bug fix imply a patent license?

Can a small bug fix implement a patent (or cause a patent to be implemented)?

I suspect you're more qualified to answer those than I :)

> How should you interpret “necessarily infringed by your contribution(s)”?

Too open ended a question.

> If you are contributing to a part of a functionality, for example changing a header or
a parameter) will that
> contribution be interpreted as necessarily infringing any of my patents if I hold a patent
or patents on the full
> functionality of that part of the software.

Seems like the first question.

If you were contributing to part of a functionality AND you judged it
infringed on your patents, then the CLA would grant a license. But
that's just you and the CLA'ing entity. I'm not sure who the 'me' and
'you' is in your question above, you make it sound like there are 3
entities involved [committer, patent holder & CLA'ing entity]. Usually
you'd only consider the 2 entities [committer who is also patent
holder & CLA'ing entity].

> What is the difference between contributions and combinations of contributions?

>From the text:

"where such license applies only to those patent claims
   licensable by You that are necessarily infringed by Your
   Contribution(s) alone or by combination of Your Contribution(s)
   with the Work to which such Contribution(s) was submitted"

So this means that if you grant a patent license for your
contributions and for your contributions plus the existing work. ie)
If you add the last tiny commit such that a piece of work is now
considered by someone to fulfill your patent, you license said patent
to the CLA'd entity even if your commit was only the last in a long
line of contributions.

You'll also want to read this FAQ entry if you've not already found it:


> I hope that my questions makes sense and are possible to answer.

Mostly I think it's that some of your questions should only be
answered by a patent expert while others can be covered by the general
opinions on this list regarding the ASF CLA.


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