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From Tao Effect <cont...@taoeffect.com>
Subject Re: Serious problem with the Apache Contributor's License Agreement (CLA) v2.0
Date Sun, 15 Sep 2013 02:31:29 GMT
Hi Marvin,

Thanks for your reply!

> *   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?

Almost. The difference is that the concern lies with future patents, not past ones. As far
as I can tell, the license seems to adequately protect contributors' past patents.

To quote from the email exchange:
Worrisome scenario:

@ T1, having signed the CLA, I make a contribution to NuPIC, labeled G1.
@ T2, I patent a novel concept that involves the combination of G2 and G3 (not contributed
to NuPIC).

@ T3, Contributors to NuPIC add N25 and N32 to NuPIC.

It so happens that N25 = G2, and N32 = G3.

> 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.


This sentence is rather unclear to me. It sounds like what it's intending to say is that you
grant a license to any future patent claims you make should they be based on "your original
contribution"? If so, how, exactly, must they be "based on" it?

Also, this FAQ is not in any way referenced in the agreement that is actually signed, so I
don't see how it is relevant to the discussion.

Kind regards,
Greg Slepak

--
Please do not email me anything that you are not comfortable also sharing with the NSA.

On Sep 14, 2013, at 9:56 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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