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Re: [DotGNU]MS Office 2003 XML patented

From: Norbert Bollow
Subject: Re: [DotGNU]MS Office 2003 XML patented
Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 17:41:24 +0100 (CET)

Hash: SHA1

Seth Johnson <address@hidden> wrote:

> Office 2003 XML Reference Schema Patent License
> You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license
> terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this
> license.  You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.
> The licence is royalty free, but GPL ยง7 requires the right to sublicence
> patent rights to the people who obtain a GPL program from you.
> so in other words Microsoft is using patents to prevent GPLed programs from
> accessing the XML format that MS Word will be using.
> This is very good timing, and goes to show how important it is to ensure
> that the software patent directive has articles that protects
> interoperativity from consituting patentinfringemet.

Yes.  There are two problems here.  One is the field-of-use
restriction, through which MS reserves monopoly rights on
extensions or modifications of the "standard".  This is the
kind of thing that will make it very hard for competitors
to break the MS effective monopoly in this area.

The second problem is the GPL-incompatibility of the license;
just to make clear that this is not a reason for not using the
GPL, let me quickly suggest a way how the GPL can be used for
a project which is stuck with using technology that is
encumbered by a GPL-incompatible patent license of this kind:

    # This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
    # modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
    # published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of
    # the License, or (at your option) any later version.
    # In addition, as a special exception, if a patent holder offers a
    # royalty-free patent license to every member of the public, the
    # copyright holders of this program grant you permission to
    # redistribute this program under the condition that you fully
    # comply with the requirements of sections 1, 2 and 3 of the
    # GNU General Public License (Version 2), and that you also comply
    # with the requirements of the other sections as much as that is
    # possible while also complying with the requirements of the
    # royalty-free patent license.

Nota bene, this kind of exception text should be used only for
projects that actually need it.  It is a good, highly desirable
feature of the GPL that it is by design only compatible with a very
narrow class of patent licenses, which would deserve being called
"free patent licenses".

Greetings, Norbert.

- -- 
Founder & Steering Committee member of
Free Software Business Strategy Guide   --->
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69
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