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From Henri Yandell <he...@yandell.org>
Subject Re: Serious problem with the Apache Contributor's License Agreement (CLA) v2.0
Date Sun, 15 Sep 2013 03:36:16 GMT
+1 to Marvin's reply. This came up many years ago and our solution was to
note our answer in a FAQ (primarily that the temporal notion of 'Work' is
the work at the time you contribute).  The FAQ is admittedly partly due to
a desire to not keep changing the ICLA/CCLA text to cover each question we
receive.

---

I think the new Numenta CLA has bigger problems for Numenta than your
hypothetical (also note that the blog entry and the Numenta CLA plaintext
are different).

Numenta blog text: (there's an additional line here, #3)

"where such license applies only to those patent claims existing as
of the effective date of this CLA and licensable by You that
exist at the time of the signing of this agreement and 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."

Numenta CLA text (note the 'CL' typo):

"where such license applies only to those patent claims existing as
of the effective date of this CL and 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."

Both Numenta texts are curious. It only speaks to patents that exist at the
time of the agreement, and not the more important time of the contribution.

Perhaps I missed some larger concept that balances this, just a cursory
glance at the licenses rather than the 'quieten the kids up and properly
look at the text' review :)

Hen



On Sat, Sep 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM, Marvin Humphrey <marvin@rectangular.com>wrote:

> On Sat, Sep 14, 2013 at 4:38 PM, Tao Effect <contact@taoeffect.com> wrote:
>
> > I recently finished a rather long exchange with Numenta, Inc. on a matter
> > related to a paragraph taken from the Apache CLA v2.0.
>
> For what it's worth, similar language exists in the Apache License 2.0.
>
> > [..] it appears to allow an interpretation that states that I’m
> potentially
> > giving away royalty-free licenses to all the software patent claims I
> ever
> > make should I make a single contribution to NuPIC, whatever it may be.
>
> If I understand correctly, your concern is that once you've made a single
> contribution under an iCLA (or the ALv2), a malevolent party might
> contribute
> something to the same "Work" at some point in the future which infringes
> against an unrelated patent of yours, unfairly wresting a patent license
> from
> you.
>
> For example:
>
> *   An employee of Apple contributes some documentation to Dr. X's
> open-source
>     cryptography library.
> *   Dr. X subsequently adds a GUI to his cryptography library which
> utilizes
>     "slide to unlock".
> *   Dr. X has obtained a patent license from Apple for "slide to unlock".
>
> Does that illustrate your concern accurately?  If so, I believe that this
> FAQ
> entry is relevant:
>
>     http://www.apache.org/foundation/license-faq.html#PatentScope
>
>     [...]
>
>     The only patent claims that are licensed to the ASF are those you own
> or
>     have the right to license that read on your contribution or on the
>     combination of your contribution with the specific Apache product to
> which
>     you contributed as it existed at the time of your contribution. No
>     additional patent claims become licensed as a result of subsequent
>     combinations of your contribution with any other software. Note,
> however,
>     that licensable patent claims include those that you acquire in the
>     future, as long as they read on your original contribution as made at
> the
>     original time. [...]
>
> > Numenta discussed the matter with their legal team and decided to add a
> few
> > words to eliminate the dangerous interpretation. They announced this via
> a
> > blog post:
> >
> > http://numenta.org/blog/2013/09/03/numenta-contributor-license-v1-1.html
>
> IANAL, but my understanding is that that provision is there to guard
> against
> submarine patents.  I'd be curious whether the change described in that
> blog
> post weakens protections against contributors sneaking in technology for
> which
> patents subsequently "surface" and for which royalties are demanded from
> end
> users.
>
> Marvin Humphrey
>
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