I am trying to understand how Apache License affects patents. In regards to the Apache website http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0 section 3, am I right to say for the first part that it is saying the licensee is allowed to do pretty much anything with the patent?

In the latter part, is it saying that if a licensor decides to sue someone who is infringing over their patent they will lose all their patents or is it talking about the licensee?

1 Answer 1


The first part of Section 3 states that all contributors give you, the user, the right to use the software under whatever software patents are in effect, without any further obligations (including license fees). This applies both individually, where the contributor personally owns a software patent, and collectively, where a combination of contributed works is considered protected by part or all of a patent.

The second part of Section 3 states that, if you, the user of the software, bring suit against anyone who has a patent claim to all or part of the software, your license (and therefore your right to use the software in the manner described in the license) terminates automatically.

Collectively, these two clauses are intended to give you and the project contributors protection against patent problems, by making such protection a condition of contributing to the project or using the software.

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    Hi thanks. If a person downloaded open source software and it contained a patent or if a company released open source software with a patented piece of code in it. Why would the person receiving the open source software with patented code in it sue someone when that patented code isn't originally theirs? Feb 22, 2013 at 0:22
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    That's a good question; it's not hard to imagine a plausible scenario. Let say a software developer uses a library for Android phones to make a game, and then makes a patent claim in an attempt to extort license fees from other users wishing to make games using the same library. If the software developer did this, they would immediately lose their right to use the library under the Apache license. Call it the "spirit of fair play" clause. Feb 22, 2013 at 0:27
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    Ah, ok. So a developer downloads some open source software from the internet. In it includes some patented code. The developer modifies and redistributes this code as a game. He then patents a part of it. He then loses all rights. Is this correct? So he loses his rights as soon as he patents something, not when he sues someone? Cheers =) Feb 22, 2013 at 0:32
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    @JohnathanAu: He probably can't patent it himself, if the other contributors can prove it's their prior art. It's more likely that he would claim to already own a patent that applies to the software. He can do that, and have his day in court; he just can't use the software anymore under the Apache license if he does. Feb 22, 2013 at 0:35
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    I've seen sillier things. Feb 22, 2013 at 0:37

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