[ECOS] APB - Copyright assignment

Alex Schuilenburg alexs@ecoscentric.com
Thu Oct 8 13:20:00 GMT 2009

Paul D. DeRocco wrote on 2009-10-08 01:31:
>> From: Alex Schuilenburg
>> This is second third of the story and why it is important for
>> contributed code to have a proper assignment before it can be
>> contributed into eCos.  Namely, to prevent the inadvertent introduction
>> of unlicensed use of patented technology into eCos and to allow the
>> continued use of the technology within eCos should it later be patented
>> by the author.
> I would think if code was legitimately contributed to eCos, then it
> couldn't later be patented anyway.
No.  If you wrote the code, you can patent it whenever you want (subject
to patent requirements etc. like no prior art) .  Some patents also take
forever to be granted, so you may file for a patent, contribute your
code and then end up with a patent on something that is in the main
tree.  Hence why an FSF assignment specifically covers use of patents.

There are some companies in the open source area, like Red Hat, that in
fact apply for patents on open source code they contribute specifically
to protect the code to allow it to be used freely by the community.  The
FSF assignment just ensures that nobody can do the dirty "Hey, that is
my code, I have a patent, please pay me" - simple copyright assignment
does not protect you against that.

-- Alex

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