Mozilla and Patents

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Daniel Cater

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Apr 9, 2012, 4:29:58 PM4/9/12
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"AOL and Microsoft Announce $1.056 Billion Patent Deal"

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120409005434/en/AOL-Microsoft-Announce-1.056-Billion-Patent-Deal

Some sources are reporting that these are Netscape patents: http://allthingsd.com/20120409/attention-marc-andreessen-microsoft-just-bought-part-of-netscape/

This made me think about the relation between Netscape patents and Mozilla, and Mozilla and patents in general. So I have some questions (these may be answered somewhere but I couldn't find them after a brief look). What follows is mainly just a quick braindump of my thought process so some questions might not make sense.

1. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it inherited / acquired from Netscape / AOL?
2. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it inherited / acquired from elsewhere?
3. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it filed for itself?
4. Does Mozilla have a licence for any Netscape / AOL patents?
5. Does Mozilla have a licence for any other patents?
6. Does Mozilla have a patent policy?
7. Does Mozilla have a section on patents in employees' contracts?
8. Does this sale and licence of AOL patents to Microsoft have any meaningful impact on Mozilla?

Thanks.

Gervase Markham

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Apr 10, 2012, 12:19:50 PM4/10/12
to Daniel Cater
On 09/04/12 21:29, Daniel Cater wrote:
> 1. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it inherited / acquired from Netscape / AOL?
> 2. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it inherited / acquired from elsewhere?
> 3. Does Mozilla hold any patents that it filed for itself?
> 4. Does Mozilla have a licence for any Netscape / AOL patents?
> 5. Does Mozilla have a licence for any other patents?
> 6. Does Mozilla have a patent policy?
> 7. Does Mozilla have a section on patents in employees' contracts?
> 8. Does this sale and licence of AOL patents to Microsoft have any meaningful impact on Mozilla?

Hi Daniel,

As you will understand, for legal reasons it's not normally wise to
discuss or speculate on patent-related matters except with one's
attorney. The recently-adopted Debian Patent Policy[0] says:

"Patent risks affect the entire community. If you are concerned about a
specific patent, please do not keep it to yourself — notify legal counsel.

All communication related to specific patent risk should be directed to
pat...@debian.org, which is maintained under the rules of
attorney-client privilege. The risk will be evaluated and any necessary
response will be made directly to affected parties."

In other words: "it's not smart to talk about patent risks in public".

Some of your questions are matters of fact and probably public record;
but I'm not sure I have answers off the top of my head and even if I
did, I'd still want to consult before giving them :-)

Gerv

[0] http://www.debian.org/legal/patent

Daniel Cater

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Apr 10, 2012, 12:44:57 PM4/10/12
to mozill...@lists.mozilla.org, Gervase Markham, Daniel Cater
OK. If you could consult the relevant people and ask them to respond to as much as is publicly sensible then that would be great. I think the minimum amount of information should be kept private within Mozilla (where it has relevance to the community as a whole).

Thanks.

che...@gmail.com

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Apr 18, 2012, 2:03:24 PM4/18/12
to mozill...@lists.mozilla.org, Daniel Cater
Hi Daniel,
Some additional information for you.

1. No.
2. No.
3. No. See post regarding patents we applied for and assigned to xiph.org)
http://lockshot.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/patent-matters-dont-hate-the-player-hate-the-game/
4. Yes under the MPL. See more at http://lockshot.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/microsoft-acquisition-of-netscapeaol-patents/
5. No. Note when we license, use or acquire work product from vendors/consultants there is often a patent license, but I assume you're referring to express patent licenses relative to our products.
6. See post above under #3 which describes our current thinking.
7. Yes, we have a patent assignment provision that is pretty typical. I like the new Twitter IPA proposal, and we'll certainly be discussing adopting that structure once the final terms are worked out.
8. See post referenced #4 above.

Hope this answers your questions. thanks for inquiring.
/hja

Daniel Cater

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Apr 18, 2012, 2:27:45 PM4/18/12
to mozill...@lists.mozilla.org
Great, thanks.
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