|| ||Roland Dreier <roland-AT-topspin.com>|
|| ||Thu, 21 Oct 2004 21:07:23 -0700|
I just read the coverage of Greg K-H's concerns about the InfiniBand
licensing in last week's kernel section (which just became freely
available). As one of the main developers of free InfiniBand
software, there are a few things I wanted to clarify.
First, we just got rid of the dumb new $9500 charge for the spec (and
will retroactively refund anyone who actually paid that amount).
There seem to be two objections raised in your article. First is the
restrictive language used for non-member access to the specification.
Since pretty much every company on the IBTA steering committee is
actively involved in the OpenIB effort, we should be able to get that
sort of issue resolved soon as well. In the meantime, everyone
working on the code is affiliated with an IBTA member company, which
means we received our copies of the spec without any such
The second objection that was raised was about patent licensing.
However, sadly enough, the IBTA patent terms are pretty much par for
the course. For example, the PCI SIG has nearly word-for-word the
same patent licensing terms (see below), but we don't see anyone
asking for the removal of drivers/pci or saying, "the end result is
that PCI looks like a closed, proprietary standard, and not something
which can be supported in free software."
In any case, no matter what the IBTA member agreement patent language
is, the fact remains that there are far more patent holders who are
not members than IBTA members (most notably Microsoft, who are no
longer IBTA members).
Since I don't think anyone benefits from a high profile news source
like LWN spreading what is essentially FUD, I would appreciate it if
you could publish some clarification.
Here's a snippet of the PCI SIG bylaws
SECTION 15.3 LICENSING OF MEMBER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
When the Member or its Affiliate makes a Contribution to a
Specification of the Corporation, including revisions thereto, or
when the Corporation adopts and approves for release a
Specification after providing notice as set forth in Section 15.2,
above, the Member and its Affiliates hereby agree to grant to
other Members and their Affiliates under reasonable terms and
conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair
discrimination, a nonexclusive, nontransferable, worldwide license
under its Necessary Claims to allow such Members to make, have
made, use, import, offer to sell, lease and sell and otherwise
distribute Compliant Portions, ....
SECTION 15.5 RETENTION OF RIGHTS
Nothing contained in this ARTICLE 15 shall be deemed as requiring
a Member or its Affiliates to grant or withhold a nonexclusive
license or sublicense of an individual Member's patents containing
Necessary Claims to non-Members on such terms as the Member or its
Affiliates may determine.
Pretty much identical to the IB language, eh?
For good measure here's a similar snippet of the Bluetooth SIG patent
and copyright license agreement
5. License Grant.
(a) To Associate or Adopter Member. Effective upon the adoption by
Bluetooth SIG of each Bluetooth Specification, the Promoter Members
and their Affiliates hereby grant to each Associate and Adopter Member
and its Affiliates (collectively, Licensee ) a non-exclusive,
royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, nontransferable,
nonsublicenseable, worldwide license under the Promoter Member s
Necessary Claims with respect to the Bluetooth Specification and/or
Foundation Specification solely to make, have made, use, import, offer
to sell, sell and otherwise distribute and dispose of Compliant
Portions; provided that such license need not extend to any part or
function of a product in which a Compliant Portion is incorporated
that is not itself part of the Compliant Portion.
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