[pp.int.general] Patent system similar to GPL?

Mikko Särelä msarela at cc.hut.fi
Mon Feb 28 11:45:26 CET 2011

The main difference between copyleft and patent-left is the difference in 
costs. Getting and keeping a patent consts more than a hundred thousand 
dollars (or euros), whereas placing a copyleft license on software costs 
nothing. Therefore it will not be economically feasible to create a GPL 
like patent pool (unless you can convince a billionaire to put a large 
swath of money into it). 


On Mon, 28 Feb 2011, Gareth Nelson wrote:
> If you insist that someone using your patent licenses any patents they
> hold, or even better you could insist that they place a copyright
> license on any software that uses your patent which grants particular
> freedoms, then it has a beneficial effect.
> Even if you can't liberate ALL the patents that might apply, you can
> at least liberate SOME of them.
> As an example, suppose you get granted a patent on some critical idea
> related to compiler design (it doesn't matter what). Someone writes a
> compiler that uses that idea and patents a bunch of other related
> ideas.
> The end result is a compiler that infringes on multiple patents
> including yours while the author also has a few unique patents of
> their own.
> Let's call the numbers: 10 patents from third parties, 10 from the
> author, 1 from you
> You license your patent to them under these terms: "You must offer a
> free license to all your patents that are applicable to any product
> using my patent using the same terms as I offer to you".
> They license their patents as per those terms.
> Due to this the general public have gained the free use of 11 patents
> under a copyleft-style license that will keep them free.
> There are still 10 they can not use, but you can't influence that either way.
> Without the copyleft-type terms you can offer a general grant to the
> public and they gain the free use of only 1 patent.
> All things considered, it's better for the general public to gain free
> use of more ideas even if you can't liberate all ideas covered by
> patents. Rational decision theory would say we're bound to use the
> pseudo-copyleft patent license if our goal is maximising the number of
> ideas the public may freely use. Obviously a better name other than
> copyleft needs to be used, but the same concepts can be used.
> On Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 10:26 AM, Richard Stallman <rms at gnu.org> wrote:
> > Copyleft applies to works that contain code derived from your work.
> > It requires those works' copyrights to be licensed under the same
> > copyleft license, so that they permanently carry that license, even a
> > century or two from now when your copyright has expired.
> >
> > This requirement applies to the modified work as a whole.
> > Whoever makes the modified work has the copyright on that modified work,
> > and thus has the legal power to release it as copyleft requires.
> >
> > If he wants to use pieces he got from others, he is required to follow
> > the copyleft license for the whole resulting program, including those
> > pieces.
> >
> > Copyright covers copying (in a broad sense).  He can tell if he is
> > copying something, so he knows which code's copyrights are going to be
> > relevant to the combination he makes.  Copyright explicitly does not
> > cover ideas.  So if there is some code he can't get permission to use
> > in the copylefted combination, he does have the option of replacing
> > that code from scratch.  (This may be a lot of work.)
> >
> > But you can't tell when you infringe a patent.  A patent is not
> > attached to a particular part of a particular product.  A patent is a
> > monopoly on an idea.
> >
> > So if you try to make a "similar" arrangement to copyleft using patent
> > law, you won't get similar results.  A product that uses your patented
> > idea surely uses many other ideas.  The person who designs this
> > product may not have or get any relevant patents, but third parties
> > probably have some, and the designer often won't know they exist.
> >
> > If you insist that ALL those patents be licensed out to the public,
> > the problem is that (1) he doesn't know what they are, and (2) when he
> > does know of some patents, he has no leverage to persuade their third
> > party holders to agree.
> >
> > However, if you don't insist on this, the third party patent holders
> > will ruin the desired effect.
> >
> > --
> > Dr Richard Stallman
> > President, Free Software Foundation
> > 51 Franklin St
> > Boston MA 02110
> > USA
> > www.fsf.org, www.gnu.org
> > ____________________________________________________
> > Pirate Parties International - General Talk
> > pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
> > http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general
> >

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