[zeromq-dev] LGPLv3 patent clause

Pieter Hintjens ph at imatix.com
Fri Jan 31 12:19:40 CET 2014


This is off-topic for ZeroMQ, but if you want my detailed
deconstruction of the patent system, and why I've spent years of my
life fighting it, see here: http://hintjens.com/blog:31.

My views are on the public record. For two years I was president of
the FFII, the leading European NGO defining software patent policy in
Europe. We contributed to the relevant clauses in the GPLv3. I chose
that for ZeroMQ with the very specific intention of excluding any
contributor that used patents in their software business strategy.

In short, the patent system does not help small inventors except in
freak cases. The _entire_ patent system is, in my view, a legal
parasite designed by professional sociopaths to feed off real economic
activity, leaving nothing but ruin behind. Every claim for patents is
based on the lure of easy money, wrong assumptions, bogus economic
theory, mistaken theories of innovation, naivety about legal process,
or outright lies.

On Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 9:29 AM, Laurent Alebarde <l.alebarde at free.fr> wrote:
> IMHO, everything can be hell or haven, including LGPL. It depends on one's
> motivations and intentions. For patents, lawyers are the tools of the
> owners, so what happens depends on the owners (except the patent officers,
> but they infringe only the owners). I agree also many patents are abusive
> and shaming.
>
> That's why I am also against patents on software. But it is not that simple.
> Software is just a tool. Many technologies need software to come to life but
> are not intrinsically software. Then patents may be IMHO legitimate. When
> you spend thousands of hours to develop an innovative technology, you can
> expect earning some money with it, at least to feed your children, isn't it
> ?
>
> Open source and associated consulting and expertise is a great economical
> model, but not the only one. Moreover, it fits some people, and not others.
> Other people are creative and technology centric. For them, the patent may
> be the less bad idea, even if many times it is finaly a real bad idea
> because filing a patent requires that you have funds to defend it. But it
> may also be a good idea, especially if your invention needs to be opened, or
> once again, the less bad idea. Many corporates are unfair, isn't it ? The
> guy who invented car wipers had to fight all his life to obtain the first
> dollar from his invention.
>
> When it comes to technical innovation, when you want to keep your freedom in
> a small business, when you want to spend your time in creation more than in
> service, what do you propose ?
>
> Of course, you cannot answer: consulting is great, make your technology
> free, raise a community, do expertise and be happy. That would be just what
> fits to some people, but not others. Besides, if the technology is simple to
> use, nobody will need your expertise.
>
> One may also hire a few people to do the consulting, and stay on the
> creation, but then you have to spend most of your time in management, what
> is creativity counter  productive. You can also hire a CE, but then you may
> have other kind of troubles.
>
> You may also just stay an employee in a corporate with a cool R&D.
>
> There is no legitimate reason to prevent anyone to get freedom and to be,
> behave and work as he is, as far as the freedom and dignity of everyone else
> is respected and preserved.
>
> My 2 cts.
>
> Laurent Alebarde
>
>
> Le 30/01/2014 14:00, Pieter Hintjens a écrit :
>
> On Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 4:29 AM, Sojan James <sojan.james at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I think zeromq is a great library to use for my project.  At my company, all
> open source usage needs to be approved for use by a legal team.  Usage of
> GLPv3 and LGPLv3 is flatly refused. One of the reasons is the clause about
> the patents.  I don't fully understand the implications of the patent clause
> of LGPLv3 w.r.t zeromq.  Does the static linking exception affect my
> obligations in any way?
>
> I'm basically looking for any information that I can provide to the legal
> team to discuss further if an exception can be granted for this library.
>
> The patent clause in the LGPLv3 applies to anyone using ZeroMQ, no
> matter how they link it. This is deliberate. The goal is to reduce
> patent lawsuits around ZeroMQ. You can read the full implications
> elsewhere; it's standard part of GPLv3. Any firm that flatly refuses
> (L)GPLv3 for these reasons is welcome to go buy commercial software,
> or use other products.
>
> Speaking personally, (software) patents are an infectious abomination
> that allow pseudo-lawyers to parasite the work of productive people.
> Firms do make the choice: either they embrace that abomination or they
> reject it. If they embrace it, they are dangerous partners and
> unreliable contributors. The LGPLv3 patent clause makes a good filter
> to ensure such firms do not join our community. /End of personal
> statement
>
> -Pieter
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