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Open Software Patent License Guide

Here are a few practical things to think about as you decide on how to approach the issue of patents and software development.

  1. Consider the following:
    1. Even though many software projects and companies who patent believe they are only doing so for defensive purposes, unless you commit to a public patent license that promotes open innovation, you are effectively making the decision to discourage all uses by others of the technologies embodied in your software patents, even if you also license them under an open source copyright license. A separate commitment to open source patent licensing is essential to truly being open source. Even if you don’t own any patents and don’t plan to acquire any, helping us build a community committed to these type of policies and practices helps ensure a future where open source thrives without fear of software patenting.
    2. Much like open source copyright licenses, open source patent licenses create an open ecosystem around your technology can help you to build adoption and value around your product and products that interoperate with it. This could help your business strategy in ways that a completely closed/restrictive patent licensing strategy will not.
    3. Open source patents are the best prior art for preventing patent trolls or proprietary entities from claiming the technologies we build that are meant for everyone.
  2. If you’ve decided to license your portfolio, here are some tips to help you decide on which license could be appropriate:
    1. When choosing a license, think about what uses you want to encourage or discourage and whether there are already licenses that line up with your licensing goals.
    2. Using the MOSPL. If you’d like to re-use text of the MOSPL and apply it to your portfolio, we’ve made it easy by waiving our copyrights to the text under the CC0 waiver.
      1. Verbatim. If you apply the entire text with no modifications as your license, you can use the name “Mozilla Open Patent License” to apply to what you’re doing, but you don’t have to. Don’t forget to change “Licensor” from Mozilla to your name or entity name.
      2. Custom. If you want to make a custom license and would like to use some of the text in our license, you can. Please don’t use Mozilla, Firefox or other Mozilla mark in the name of your license. We ask this to avoid confusion around what these licenses represent. If you’d like to indicate a relationship to MOSPL in a custom license - you can say that your license is “inspired by the Mozilla Open Patent License”, but you don’t have to.
    3. Other licenses. Various organizations have championed forms of open patent licensing for software as well as other technologies.
      1. The Defensive Patent License
      2. The TAPR Open hardware license
      3. The CERN open hardware license

We’ve provided this page for informational purposes only and it should not be treated as legal advice. Please seek legal counsel for help with legal issues.