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From William A Rowe Jr <wr...@rowe-clan.net>
Subject Re: Proposal: Disclosure of patents by Apache projects
Date Wed, 03 Jun 2015 17:37:44 GMT
On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 9:10 AM, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net> wrote:

> On Wed, Jun 3, 2015 at 9:38 AM, William A Rowe Jr <wrowe@rowe-clan.net>
> wrote:
> >
> > Indeed, there is no sneaky author.  The patents are public filings.  No
> > need for tinfoil hats or detection gadgets.  Those patent use rights are
> > granted, by the very design of the AL, to every downstream consumer.
> >
> > Apparently, none of you spend too much time with your corp-consumer
> > legal teams.  It's brutal.
> >
> > Pretty much everything out there, IP-wise, bollixes the works.  Stray
> > non-conforming license?  That's out.  Stray patent claim?  Straight out.
> >
> > So yes, there is a project which is trying to offer
> code-with-patent-license
> > to the ASF, and has succeeded at their CCLA plus CLAs and would like
> > to wokr out the best way to inform / reassure users that these particular
> > patent claims are known to apply and are granted for use to whatever
> > downstream consumer wants to use the code.
>
[Antagonistic rhetorical question redacted]


> I will note that this thread has evolved considerably from an initial
> post which called into question Roy's advice:
>
> > We do not notify
> > our users that an unspecified patent might possibly be owned by some
> > third-party based on a theoretical reading of a patent license on a
> > specification that we don't even implement.
>

Precisely.  This is -not- the question I raised.  Although I have a lot of
fondness for the OpenSSL project due to their transparency of keeping
alive a small plain-text spreadsheet of applicable patents they expected
they had infringed, and the expiree dates of those patents.  That has no
bearing on the question at hand :)


> Here you are describing a case where a patent holder is trying to do
> the right thing.  This is quite a different matter than third parties
> wanting us to endorse their assertions, something the ASF has
> consistently declined to do.
>
> We also don't publicly disclose who has signed CCLAs or SG.  In this
> case, it appears to be the signer's wish to disclose that information.
> The PPMC and IPMC should take a position on that request.
>

Frankly, I don't know if the attribution is desired or not.  I'm asking
entirely from the perspective of ASF interests, downstream consumers,
and any potential impact on adoption.


> That being said, patents are complex beasts.  A patent may require n
> conditions, and the code that the contributor has donated may only
> read on n-1.  An evaluation of the risk is in order.
>


> This also is a rare enough case that I don't think that we have
> reached a point where a best practice is obvious.  Perhaps a blog post
> or a page on the PPMCs site may be a good first step.
>

Exactly so, it will be rare - not that there are applicable patents, but -
in the context of the specific patents and the scope of those specific
claims.  I will  pursue this further out-of-band, and...


> Opening a JIRA, drafting some text, and asking for a legal review of
> that text would be in order.
>

Sounds sensible, thanks.

Bill

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