Patents, copyrights and licenses Net@Law - 6 May 2009
2Patents vs copyrights Patents Protection of processes and ideas What’s the difference?Copyrights Protection of implementations and code Licenses Rights-granting agreements between owners and users
2Patents vs copyrights Patents Protection of processes and ideasCopyrights Protection of implementations and code Licenses Rights-granting agreements between owners and users
3Example: your MP3 player Protection of processes and ideas Patents MP3 compression/decompression algorithms owned by Thompson and others Protection of implementations and codeCopyrights Software rights for speciﬁc applications owned by VideoLAN (VLC), Apple (iTunes), Microsoft (Windows Media Player), etc. Rights-granting agreements between owners and users Licenses VideoLAN gets license for the MP3 codec patent from Thompson and licenses its copyrighted VLC software to YOU!
4History of sofware patents 1790 USPTO created, ﬁrst 1972 US Supreme Court rules 2005 India rejects principle of patent issued on Gottschalk v. Benson software patentability 1962 First software patent 1996 USPTO publishes FCREG issued for simplex algorithm establishing patentability Software patent law is national Software patent law is in a ﬂuid state Software patent law has been affected by the rise of the Internet
5Should software be patentable?Pros: Software is useful and requires effort to develop, just like any other invention Programmers need to eat tooCons: It severely hampers software development Mathematical facts cannot be patentable Broad and stupid patents can be granted as software is more ﬂexible Countries disagree on the patentability of software
6Patenting for dummiesStep 1 Write a document describing inventionStep 2 Send it to patent ofﬁces of the countries in which you want a patent E.g. https://sportal.uspto.gov/secure/portal/efs-unregisteredStep 3 Wait for it to get approved, and pay the necessary fees - approximately $10,000
9Copyrights and licenses All software is subject to copyright Copyrights prohibit the duplication and distribution of any substantial portion of the code without the consent of the copyright owner Licenses grant particular rights regarding the software and the code to the end user The ubiquitous EULA (End User License Agreement) is an example of such licensing Licenses differ in their restrictiveness - open source vs proprietary software Copyright is easy, licenses are complex READ YOUR LICENSES!
11The different licenses GPL LGPL MIT License More than 60% of free Designed for software Very permissive license. software uses GPL. libraries rather than software. Gives users the right to use, Created to ensure that Proprietary software can use copy, modify, merge, publish, source code is provided LGPL libraries. Software distribute, sublicense, and/or together with binaries. using LGPL code must be sell the software LGPL or GPL. GPL code can only be used Users must include copy of in other GPL software. Used in Mozilla & OpenOfﬁce license with their codeRESTRICTIVE PERMISSIVE
12Key takeaway 1 Patents are on ideas Copyright is on code and implementation 2 Patents are controversial Copyright is widely accepted
12Key takeaway 1 Patents are on ideas Copyright is on code and implementation 2 Patents are controversial Copyright is widely accepted Remember: even though all software is copyrighted, the number of restrictions imposed varies greatly from license to license
Patents, copyrights and licenses Net@Law - 6 May 2009 Franck Dernoncourt Andrei Timoshenko