[IPOL discuss] Patents and IPOL code

Miguel Colom Miguel.Colom at cmla.ens-cachan.fr
Tue Apr 5 20:36:36 CEST 2011

> So, if we distribute some patented code with GPLv3 and no patent
> agreement from the patent owner, then the GPLv3 "self-destructs" and
> the code is distributed without a license, ie no use, modification or
> distribution allowed. The GPLv3 license should be avoided for any code
> containing a patented algorithm. If GPLv2 is unclear, it should also
> be avoided.

As far as I know, patents and free software are full incompatible.
If an algorithm is patented and its distribution isn't not legal then you
can't change that fact by re-licensing it. No free software license is
applicable in that case.

On the other hand, if a program is covered by a free software license
(GPL, for example), then the right of distribution is gained and never
lost. And it makes it incompatible with any patent, because they'd cause a
violation of the license.

If patent is only applicable in one country (USA, for example), I think
that it'd still be possible to license over the GPL or other free
software/open source license. But the license wouldn't be valid in that

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