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Defensive Patent License

Red alert.png What this entry documents is not a solution.
This practice may be ineffective or useless in the long term.
ESP's position is that abolition of software patents is the only solution.

The Defensive Patent License (DPL) is a proposed form of patent non-aggression pact.

The project is being worked on by Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban, two law professors at UC Berkeley. It was first publicly discussed at a conference on 7 May 2010 and version 1.0 was released in 2012 or 2013.


None of the details are finalised, but points being discussed include:[1]

  1. Member companies would have to commit all their patents. Not just a chosen set, not just the patents of one department/affiliate of the company. (This aspect is still the subject of a lot of discussion)
  2. Members give all other members an irrevocable licence to freely use their patents.
  3. Members can leave, but this would not cancel the licences already granted during their membership.

Still permits aggression against "clones"

As Richard Stallman pointed out in January 2014:

The "defensive patent license" ought to be called the "still offensive patent license", because of the exclusion of anything it calls a "clone" — which is itself dishonest, since it the way they define it, it includes a lot more than clones. It includes any similar functionality.

Apple could license its patents this way and still use them against free software smart phones.[2]

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