Keeping Patents Out of Court June 18, 2012,
Volume 172, Issue 3
Open source guru Simon Phipps celebrates the introduction of the Defensive Patent License (DPL) by two UC Berkeley Law School professors, Jason Schultz and Jennifer Urban. DPL was developed to counter what Phipps describes as the commoditization of patents by the venture capital industry, which did so in an effort to create an asset that can be sold should an enterprise fail. If it were sufficiently widely adopted, DPL would circumvent (no, prevent) this litigious use of patents by having companies publish a statement announcing the intention of licensing any and all patents owned under the DPL and making such licensing a condition of sale of any of these patents. Thenceforth, without needing to enumerate the patents you own or negotiate terms with any other business, you are entitled to use all patents ever licensed under the DPL by all other businesses, Phipps explains. It is a requirement that a company agrees never to patents offensively against other signatories of the DPL, thereby rendering all patents owned by all DPL signatories "de-weaponized," as Phipps puts it. Key to the success of this proposal is the breadth of adoption by patent owners. Phipps concedes that a huge number of patents that can be (and have been) used offensively will remain outside the DPL fence.