Blanket patent licences and promises
- See also: Non-aggression promise to employees. (These articles may get merged.)
A blanket licence is when a company gives a certain group of users/developers protection from all their patents. A fairly good example is Red Hat's promise not to use patents against free software users and developers. slashdot.org Other companies have made narrower promises that only grant protection from a small portion of their patent portfolio. Some promises are so narrow, they're probably useless and were probably just a publicity stunt.
What's good and bad
- A "licence" is better than a "promise" or a "pledge". A "licence" has a solid definition and has been tested repeatedly in courts.
- It's good when a licence (or promise) covers a company's entire patent portfolio, like Red Hat's.
- It's bad when it only covers a selection, like Google's March 2013 pledge about 10 patents (from a company with 18,000 patents).
Examples of company patent promises
Note: these are not examples of good promises, it's just a list which might be informative or which might help explain the issues involved.
- 2005-01-10: IBM's 500-patent promise (news coverage: CNet)
- Debate arose in 2010 about whether this promise was broken in the IBM v. TurboHercules in 2010 case
- Red Hat's (see also: Red Hat)
- Blackboard's (see also: Blackboard inc.)
- Google's (see also: Google)
- Sun's OpenDocument statement (see also: Sun Microsystems)
- Microsoft Open Specification Promise
- Nokia's - only the Linux kernel, only "official versions" (whatever they are), and Nokia reserves the right to cancel the promise for any future versions. (see also: Nokia)
Related pages on ESP Wiki
- Patent clauses in software licences
- free software - not strictly related, but many of these promises are limited to free software
- Patent non-aggression pacts
- Defensive patent pools
- Defensive Patent License
- Equitable defences: estoppel and laches - a "promise" can be legally weak, leaving you with no more than an equity defence
- Non-aggression promise to employees
- Nokia's patent announcement next to nothing, May 30th 2005 - discussion of IBM, Sun, and Nokia, by Richard Stallman
- Linux Foundation's "Patent Commons" collection of promises
- Comparison of software licence clauses and promises, (audio) by Bradley Kuhn
- Covenant not to sue [in German law], 6 Oct 2010, EPLAW patent blog
- They had 1,200, then they bought Motorola which had a portfolio of 17,000