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A Brief Introduction to the Java and .NET Patent Issues

Sep 13, 2010, 03:04 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tim Smith)

[ Thanks to An Anonymous Reader for this link. ]

"Let's start with Java. With Java you have two options for licensing. First, you can use (possibly with your own modifications) the code from OpenJDK. Second, you can make a new implementation of Java, based on the Java specification.

"There is no explicit patent license covering OpenJDK. OpenJDK is covered by GPLv2 and it is generally believed that when one licenses code under GPLv2 that license includes an implicit patent license. In 2004 Dan Ravicher, senior counsel for the Free Software Foundation, warned about the weak patent guarantees for BSD and GPL and recommended attaching patent grants.

"This means the scope of the implicit patent license is unclear. On the one hand if all you do is use OpenJDK unmodified you should be completely covered. On the other hand if you made such extensive changes that it is no longer recognizable as Java and now infringes some Oracle non-Java patent, you would probably not be covered by the implicit license. Where exactly you cross the line from covered to uncovered is very fuzzy and unclear."

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