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Non-aggression promise to employees

See also: Blanket patent licences and promises. (These articles may get merged.)

A non-aggression promise to employees, from the employer who will acquire patents based on the employee's work, is a way to allow defensive patent acquisition without fear that the employer will become a patent aggressor or patent troll.

Twitter's 2012 Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA)

In 2012, Twitter made such a promise. Twitter's promise is narrower than the blanket promise from Red Hat (published in 2004) but is interesting because it was the first to be based on recognition that employees might not want to be part of the patent problem created by patent holding employers.

Richard Stallman's proposal

Richard Stallman has been advocating this idea since the 1990s. In a 2004 speech, he described it as:[1]

If your employer says to you, "We need some patents to defend ourselves, so help us get patents," I recommend this response:

Boss, I trust you and I'm sure you would only use those patents to defend the company if it's attacked. But I don't know who's going to be the CEO of this company in five years. For all I know, it might get acquired by Microsoft. So I really can't trust the company's word to only use these patents for defence unless I get it in writing. Please put it in writing that any patents I provide for the company will only be used for self-defense and collective security, and not for repression, and then I'll be able to get patents for the company with a clean conscience.

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links

Twitter's 2012 promise


Law Antitrust law · Free software exception · Interoperability exception · Loser-Pays rule · Patent review by the public · Raising examination standards · Independent invention defense · Reducing patent duration
Litigation Invalidating harmful patents · Suing makers of unfounded accusations
Licenses Patent clauses in software licenses
Prior art Defensive publication and prior art databases
Company practice Buying harmful patents · Changing company patent policies · Defensive patent acquisition · Insurance against patent litigation · Non-aggression promise to employees · Patent non-aggression pacts · Blanket patent licences and promises