React Patent Clause Licensing issue. Is it something to worry?

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React Licensing issue. Is it something to worry?

React libraries from Facebook is one of the most used UI libraries. It is competitive to AngularJS. There are many open source UI components or frameworks available but mostly people narrow down to two choices Angular / React. Recently Facebook has updated React license and added a patent clause which makes companies to worry and rethink whether to use React or not.

Below is the clause added by Facebook.

The license granted hereunder will terminate, automatically and without notice,
if you (or any of your subsidiaries, corporate affiliates or agents) initiate
directly or indirectly, or take a direct financial interest in, any Patent
Assertion: (i) against Facebook or any of its subsidiaries or corporate
affiliates, (ii) against any party if such Patent Assertion arises in whole or
in part from any software, technology, product or service of Facebook or any of
its subsidiaries or corporate affiliates, or (iii) against any party relating
to the Software. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if Facebook or any of its
subsidiaries or corporate affiliates files a lawsuit alleging patent
infringement against you in the first instance, and you respond by filing a
patent infringement counterclaim in that lawsuit against that party that is
unrelated to the Software, the license granted hereunder will not terminate
under section (i) of this paragraph due to such counterclaim.

Software patents is one of the most complex and sometimes confusing legal terminology. Facebook recently bought lot of patents worth 500 million dollors from Microsoft and AOL. It is really a big money and they have invested huge amount in patents. Patents are available to the public but its usage is restricted within the company which owns the IP, but Facebook is one of the company which allows users to access and use its patents. React and couple of other open source projects of Facebook is released under BSD + Patents license, which means users are free to access its patents.

We default to using the BSD license when we open source projects. While this is simple and permissive,
we also know that intellectual property is a concern to many developers. So over a year ago, we started
offering an additional grant which provided rights to any Facebook patents relevant to each given project.

Apache software foundation recently declared not to use any of Facebook BSD + Patents license products. Wordpress started a new project Calypso, which rewrites its wordpress from scratch using React. They now considering to move to some other UI library.  There are lot of news and conterversies for React and it may disturb React developers.

As said patents and IP are complex to understand and it is double edge sword. Google and Oracle have controversy over Java. In my opinion, Facebook wants to play safe. They added the new clause that, the company or affiliates who sue Facebook for patent infringement will get their React license revoked. If Facebook sues your company for patent infringement and you do counter claim for it then your license will not be revoked. They have explained this in their FAQ

I don't see any harm of using React and users need not to worry. 

Reference:

https://code.facebook.com/pages/850928938376556

https://code.facebook.com/posts/112130496157735/explaining-react-s-license/

https://code.facebook.com/posts/1639473982937255/updating-our-open-source-patent-grant/

https://github.com/facebook/react/blob/master/PATENTS


   

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