Patent warning about the Greenplum source code

From: Bruce Momjian <bruce(at)momjian(dot)us>
To: PostgreSQL-development <pgsql-hackers(at)postgreSQL(dot)org>
Subject: Patent warning about the Greenplum source code
Date: 2015-10-30 08:47:35
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Some of you might have seen that the Greenplum database source code has
been published:

under the Apache 2.0 license:

The source code has known patents owned by Pivotal/Greenplum. The
license has a patent grant clause:

3. Grant of Patent License. Subject to the terms and conditions of this
License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual, worldwide,
non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in
this section) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell,
sell, import, and otherwise transfer the Work, where such license
applies only to those patent claims licensable by such Contributor that
are necessarily infringed by their Contribution(s) alone or by
combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such
Contribution(s) was submitted. If You institute patent litigation
against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a
lawsuit) alleging that the Work or a Contribution incorporated within
the Work constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then
any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work
shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.

However, while the license defines and uses "Derivative Works", it does
not mention that in the patent grant clause. I assume this means that
patent grants do not apply to derived works, meaning if code or ideas
were moved from Greenplum to Postgres (which is not Apache 2.0
licensed), it would not have a patent grant. I talked to Greenplum staff
about this a few months ago and they did not dispute my analysis.

Therefore, I caution people from viewing the Greenplum source code as
you might see patented ideas that could be later implemented in
Postgres, opening Postgres up to increased patent violation problems. I
am also concerned about existing community members who work for
Pivotal/Greenplum and therefore are required to view the patented source
code. The license issue might eventually be improved by
Pivotal/Greenplum, but, for now, I think caution is necessary.

Of course, never mention known-patented ideas in any community forum,
including this email list.

Bruce Momjian <bruce(at)momjian(dot)us>

+ As you are, so once was I. As I am, so you will be. +
+ Roman grave inscription +


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