Ubuntu Patent Policy
mdz at ubuntu.com
Wed Jul 29 10:35:43 BST 2009
Over the course of the past several weeks, the Technical Board has discussed
and agreed a policy for the project's policy with regard to software
patents. Developers have occasionally contacted the Board with questions
about how they should approach this issue in the course of their development
work on Ubuntu.
We hope that having a clear and documented policy will avoid uncertainty
among developers about how to handle patent-related concerns, which in turn
will free them to focus on the more important work of making Ubuntu better.
The master copy lives at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PatentPolicy, which is
reproduced below in its entirety. Thanks to Jono Bacon for helping to
document the policy.
Questions about the policy should be directed to
the Technical Board at technical-board at lists.ubuntu.com.
= Patent Policy =
The Ubuntu project strives to deliver a free and complete Operating System fit for general use. Over the years the topic of software patents and their impact on Open Source have been controversial in some parts of the world. This policy outlines the agreed set of of standards and procedures surrounding software patents and Ubuntu.
* The Ubuntu TechnicalBoard is the governance body that handles allegations of patent infringement.
* The TechnicalBoard maintains a list of patent claims. If a developer has a concern or query regarding a patent, they should contact the Technical Board who will advise if (a) they are aware of the issue and (b) if an investigation is required.
* The TechnicalBoard strives to engage with rights holders openly in terms of the code that we ship. If a rights holder claims a patent infringement applies to code we ship, the Technical Board will commit to a review of the claim.
* While the Ubuntu project wishes to be responsive to patent infringement claims, we cannot commit to the assessment and review of claims made by anyone other than the registered rights holder.
* For code that is proposed for Ubuntu, allegations and concerns should also be raised with the Ubuntu Technical Board whereupon it can advise if they are aware of the issue.
* If we have not heard from alleged rights holders for an extended period of time, and a patent is near expiration, code will continue to be shipped as normal.
== Rights Holders: Reporting an Alleged Patent Violation ==
If you would like to report an alleged patent violation, send an email to technical-board at lists.ubuntu.com with the following details:
* '''Package(s) Affected''' - indicate which package(s) you claim to be affected by the patent.
* '''Patent(s) Involved''' - provide a list of the patents involved and for each list:
* ''Patent Title'' - the name of the patent.
* ''Patent Number'' - the legally referenced number of the patent.
* ''Jurisdiction'' - the area(s) in which the patent is considered legally enforceable.
* ''Start/Expiration Date'' - if known, specify the date in which the patent was registered and when it expires.
* '''Description''' - specify the code that is affected by the patent(s). If possible provide specific references to source files.
== Developers: Enquiring about Possible Patent Violations ==
If you are concerned about possible patent violations in software you are packaging, send an email to technical-board at lists.ubuntu.com with the following details:
* '''Package(s) Affected''' - indicate which package(s) you are concerned about. If they are not already in the archive, provide a URL for inspection.
* '''Patent(s) Involved''' - provide as much information as you have about the alleged patent claims, including if possible the claimant and jurisdiction(s). There is no need to go looking for additional information here if you do not already have it; we just need enough context to make it possible to follow up the exact details.
* '''Description''' - specify the code you believe may be affected by the patent(s). If possible provide specific references to source files.
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