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

Gareth Nelson gareth at garethnelson.com
Mon Feb 28 12:02:34 CET 2011

That's an issue of expense, not a conceptual flaw.
I think it is worthwhile to have a GPL-like license for patents simply
because software patents for now exist whether we want them to or not.
Having a license available for those who want to use their patents as
a force of good rather than an anti-competitive and anti-freedom
weapon can only be a good thing.

2011/2/28 Mikko Särelä <msarela at cc.hut.fi>:
> 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).
> -Mikko
> 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
>> >
> ____________________________________________________
> 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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