Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Lawyers. They sure are spoiling the success for the React folks. You can bet Facebook has alot of them and you can bet their political influence is strong with the upper management.

Lawyer: "this thing, this point in the contract, it's VERY VERY important". The more lawyers you get in the room, the more beard pulling, wailing and hand wringing there would be about the dire, dire consequences of taking this stupid clause out. And of course the world would come to an end if no-one listened to lawyers.

After I fucked several business deals listening to lawyers say how contracts should be changed, I decided to make my own decisions about what matters and what doesn't in a contract.

The real problem for ReactJS is that someone at facebook is listening to the lawyers wring their hands about some possible future that will never happen. facebook should just grow up and tell its lawyers to shut up and go back to doing.... whetever it is they do.

> some possible future that will never happen

Facebook has been subject to numerous patent litigations and is very likely to be involved in future patent litigations. Maintaining a defensive patent portfolio is an important part of preparing for such litigations, so Facebook's lawyers certainly aren't idly protecting their patents.

But that's irrelevant here. FB is likely getting sued by patent holding companies who aren't reliant on or using React. So the patent clause doesn't really get FB anything against patent trolls.

It does get them leverage against legitimate patent holders. There have been reports of companies having to pay in some roundabout unspecified way royalties to FB for React as part of a large patent licensing deal.

I'm somewhat skeptical of these reports, but if there is direct revenue to FB from this clause it would be the Occam's Razor explanation for their intransigence.

The patent clause isn't designed to give Facebook leverage. It's designed to grant patents unless you sue them. Even though patent trolls don't use React, Facebook wants to ensure that they don't grant patent licenses to patent trolls.

> There have been reports of companies having to pay in some roundabout unspecified way royalties to FB for React as part of a large patent licensing deal.

If you can provide any direct evidence of that, I'd be fascinated. I highly suspect it's FUD.

But Facebook can infringe on your patents if they know you have a heavy dependency on React. They won't sue, just infringe. And you won't be able to sue them with zero losses, you will lose at minimum React.

No, you'll only lose the patent license for React, leaving you with exactly the same copyright license you would have had with plain BSD. There is no scenario in which the PATENTS file (not clause) enables Facebook to infringe on others' patents any more than they would have been able to do with plain BSD. If you think this makes using React risky, then you'd also have to believe that using thousands of other BSD-licensed projects has been risky for years. That is, if you want to be logically or legally consistent.

This "adds risk" argument is very familiar from other FUD campaigns (e.g. Microsoft's) against open source in general. It's pretty weird to see people who claim to believe in open source pushing arguments that work against most open source.

Seems that the real issue is that Facebook asserts/implies they have patents relevant to React, and that they are willing to enforce them in court under certain conditions. This creates an uncertain situation. The patent grant helps somewhat, but limits your freedom of action should Facebook e.g. steal your technology. Look at the four possible scenarios:

    Facebook | Your Company | Outcome
    Grants patents conditionally | Does not sue Facebook | Things hum along nicely
    Grants patents conditionally | Sues Facebook | You're liable for patent infringement
    Doesn't grant patents | Does not sue Facebook | You're liable for patent infringement
    Doesn't grant patents | Sues Facebook | You're liable for patent infringement
The patent grant is fine if you think you'll never, ever want to sue Facebook. But should a dispute arise, you'll quickly find the technological rug pulled out from under you. You've now built your entire business on Facebook's asserted IP and have no recourse but to license it or try (futilely) to defend your infringement in court.

That sounds like a positive, if the end goal is the elimination the abomination of software patents.

But I only want to eliminate patents that I don't own....

Yep, exactly what the fb lawyers are saying.

These are the sorts of important sounding things that the lawyers are saying and frightening everyone into thinking just how incredibly important this issue is, how much is at stake.

Well then, do you think they're wrong about it? If so why? How would you address the point about past litigation (e.g. by Yahoo)?

Facebook uses React for their own projects. To them, if more people use it that's probably great and all, but I don't think they are really hurt by people choosing not to use it. They clearly would rather keep their license as it is than change it to win over new React users.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact