Unfortunately the FSF thinks the GPL end justifies any misleading means
Posted Sep 11, 2010 15:22 UTC (Sat) by coriordan
In reply to: Unfortunately the FSF thinks the GPL end justifies any misleading means
Parent article: FSF responds to Oracle v. Google and the threat of software patents
FSF said that the implied patent grant works in the USA but that the problem was that it mightn't work in other countries. (Eben doesn't usually speak for FSF but in that 2006 presentation he was presenting an FSF project.)
I think I remember RMS giving the UK as an example of where it mightn't work.
The Oracle v. Google case is in the USA, but the European Commission's comment is interesting. They did confirm that an implied grant existed, even if they put narrower limits on it than we'd like.
It seems clear to me that if you take OpenJDK (with features A, B, C) and you add more code (features X, Y, Z), then all downstream versions (including through an intermediary such as IcedTea) have a patent grant for features A, B, and C. And that's in the narrow interpretation of the EU.
Maybe it'd be possible to build something like Dalvik while staying within those limits - I don't know, it would depend on how many of the changes are additions, how many are changes to the existing code, and whether those changes are "substantial" in the eyes of a judge. If the USA has a broader view of implied patent grants, then it's more likely that Google would have been safe in the USA.
(I'm surprised by Dan Ravicher's comments. I think he's said elsewhere that the implied grant does work. I wonder if the second-hand reporting of his statements changed them slightly.)
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