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The problem with React is its patent rider. React.js comes with a BSD license, but has a patent rider that gives you a license to React's patents. This sounds like a good thing, right? But this rider has a "strong retaliation clause" which says that if you make any sort of patent claim against Facebook this patent license automatically terminates. Which means Facebook can now sue you for patent infringement for using React. You may think this is no worse than not having a patent rider at all. But that's not the case. If there is no patent rider then there is an implicit grant which cannot be revoked.

If you work for a software company and your company has patents then keep in mind that by using React you are giving Facebook a free license to your entire patent portfolio.

More info on weak vs strong retaliation clauses: http://www.rosenlaw.com/lj9.htm




> You may think this is no worse than not having a patent rider at all. But that's not the case. If there is no patent rider then there is an implicit grant which cannot be revoked.

I believe a couple of lawyers have suggested that this could, maybe, arguably be true. However, no court has ever ruled as such, and the consensus among IP lawyers is that it's an unlikely outcome.

If you're worried about potential patent lawsuits, I would NOT suggest relying on the vague hope that someday a court might read an implicit patent grant into the BSD license, especially when you'll be facing off with Facebook's lawyers.

Or do you have some citation for the "implicit patent grant"? In particular, a court decision finding one?


if you make any sort of patent claim against Facebook

My understanding (and I'm asking for correction, if I'm wrong) is that last year FB changed this provision to only cover patents on technologies within React itself, not "any sort of patent claim against Facebook", which WAS the situation before they changed it.

So, the current state is a grant of "you are licensed to use our React patents at no cost as long as you don't try to make a legal claim that any of our React patents are not legally ours."


Not exactly. The diff is here: https://github.com/facebook/react/commit/b8ba8c83f318b84e429...

The old grant terminated if, among other things, you argued that any Facebook patent was invalid or unenforcable. This meant that if Facebook sued you over an unrelated patent, you couldn't defend yourself without the React patent grant terminating.

The new grant specifically exempts any counterclaims; you can't lose your patent grant just because you defend yourself. You can still lose it if you sue Facebook over unrelated patents.


No, that's incorrect. It is any patent assertion against Facebook. Read it for yourself: https://github.com/facebook/react/blob/master/PATENTS


Wow never knew. That's a pretty huge barrier that more people should know about.....


you are giving Facebook a free license to your entire patent portfolio.

It's bad, but it's not quite that bad. Theoretically, you could stop using React, then start the patent litigation. Then Facebook could not sue you for React because at the time litigation started you were not using the license. But that's definitely a high barrier to jump if you've built up react as a core part of web and/or native applications.


I'm not completely on board with this argument. In particular, there may not be any patents on React in the first place, and the 'implicit grant' included in the BSD license is legally sketchy at best – AFAIK it has not been tested, which suggests that relying on any BSD licensed software exposes you to legal risk where you do not have an explicit patent license.


This clause is awesome. Software patents are awful and this clause reduces the chances of patent lawsuits.


The problem with React is its patent rider. React.js comes with a BSD license, but has a patent rider that gives you a license to React's patents.

The obvious next question is: what patents are necessarily infringed in the first place, just because you used React? It's a useful tool, but even if Facebook have successfully acquired relevant US software patents, it's hard to believe there's anything significant in there that had no prior art. GUI programmers have been specifying presentation details declaratively, using templates, and bundling updates for performance since long before the existence of React (or Facebook, for that matter).


The obvious problem with this interpretation is that it doesn't matter if a patent contains anything significant. How much cash you have and how long you can endure the uncertaintities which come with a legal confrontation with facebooks lawyers are what matters.


Your "obvious" problem is based on the premise that whoever has the most money will win a lawsuit in the US. In that case, almost no-one using React needs to worry about this, because either Facebook is going to come after them and they will lose but that could happen regardless of how they act, or Facebook is going to decide they don't want to come after them and it doesn't matter.


This. I get that there's a few corporates that might have a patent portfolio they'd conceivably want to enforce against Facebook. But for the rest of humanity this is just a non-argument. If FB want to pick a fight with you, you're in a fight whether you use React or not.


It's just that with using react you leave your castles gate wide open.


But again, how is React any different in this respect to any other library or, for that matter, anything you develop in-house? Most of those libraries and anything you build in-house don't come with patent grants at all, and even if one other party grants you rights you still don't know whether some third party might also have a claim against you.

Patents, and particularly submarine patents, have been a risk in the software industry for a long time. This is particularly true in jurisdictions like the US, where both the everyone-pays legal system and the recognition of software patents are unfavourable to the little guy in most circumstances. No doubt many of us don't particularly agree with or support the current legal position, but there it is.

So that brings us back to my earlier question, which I notice you haven't actually answered: for this to make any difference in law, Facebook would need to have relevant patents that will apply if you use React, so what are they?

And if your argument is still that it doesn't matter because they can just sue you and keep pumping money in until you lose through attrition in court, then this is all irrelevant anyway, because in that case surely there would be any number of other grounds they could use to support an artificial, aggressive lawsuit like that without even mentioning anything about patents. I don't really believe even the US legal system is that distorted, by the way, I'm just playing along with your earlier argument to show why it wouldn't matter even if you were right.


if you have patents you want to enforce, yes. But I think most software folk kinda assume that if you're the kind of douche that enforces software patents then you deserve everything coming to you...




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