Legal Department did not allow use of React

(Juan Mendes) #1

The legal department at our company has denied our request to use React because of the patent clause added in April 2015. Legal was OK with previous versions of React.

Does anybody have a suggestion on how to tackle the issue? What kind of information/clarification can I provide to them to make them change their mind? Has anybody encountered this problem?

Does anybody know what real cases would cause the license grant to be terminated?

(Sophie Alpert) #2

For clarity, the changes made in April 2015 were meant to clarify the intention of the original patent grant that was included in previous versions and make clearer the situations under which it might terminate:

I’m not a lawyer and am not the right person to answer questions about this, but I know for a fact that most companies are happy with the current grant, including Google who was dissatisfied with the previous grant and whom we collaborated with on writing this one.

I don’t personally know of any cases where the patent license has terminated. You can also email me and I’ll try to forward you to someone on our side who can answer more specific questions.

(Kay) #3

Are these software patents (and so only a US problem)?

(Andjarnic) #4

Several organizations I have spoken to are doing the same thing. The understanding is that Facebook and/or any of its affiliates can file a lawsuit against you over any Patent and in doing so would void your use of React… meaning you would have to replace the use of React with something else. Or likewise, if you sue Facebook or any of its affiliates over a patent you own and they are using without permission/license/whatever, would also break your license and again you would now have to rip out any use of React. That is how I understand this license, in which case, it begs… how is Yahoo, Apple, Netflix and many others using React without concern of this? Seems to me they would have far more concern of this than small companies that may not even have patents… although I guess it is possible they could infringe upon Facebook/subsidiaries patents and thus there is that concern?

Unfortunately I am not nor understand lawyer written things like this, but legal departments of companies are reading this and banning the use of React. So it must be a big enough change to completely block using React despite other large companies are still using it without concern?

(Sophie Alpert) #5

I’m not a lawyer, but my reading of the language is that the patent grant terminates only if you sue Facebook, not the other way around. And if Facebook were to sue you and you filed a countersuit, your license to use the patents would continue.

Also note that in the extreme event of the patent grant’s termination, you’d still be left with a regular BSD license, which would put you on equal footing with what many other projects offer.

(Juan Mendes) #6

Hello Ben,

Our legal department looked at the patents file and again disapproved it. The language that facebook can sue us if we make an assertion is too scary for lawyers. They are claiming exactly what you said the license didn’t say:

"that the ‘react’ license terminates automatically without notice upon VMware’s initiation of any patent assertion at all against Facebook

It’s a shame because I was really excited to build VMware’s new UI with React.

Their response follows:

“Harold – I ran the “react” license up the flagpole and our position remains the same, it is too draconian for use and hence prohibited. Though has some similarity to the BSD+Patent Grant license that governs the “go” package it is significantly more restrictive in that the “react” license terminates automatically without notice upon VMware’s initiation of any patent assertion at all against Facebook (except in the case of a counterclaim).”


Juan Mendes

(Andjarnic) #7

@juanmendes From what I have read, and what I was told by two other people, one at Apple and one at Facebook, the license, if terminate, resorts back to a BSD license. I honestly dont understand all this license crap, but BSD is ok to use as far as I know for products being sold… e.g. a product of VMware being sold to customers built on React, using a BSD licensed kit like React, should still be legal to sell. This is what is confusing to me… if in fact the initial license is more or less the same thing, and in the case of a suit, the initial license is terminated and resorts to a BSD license… why have that license anyway? Why not just have it as a BSD to begin with? Even so, if it does resort to BSD, you can still continue to sell your product with React in it… so it doesnt seem to hurt the ability to use React, or require any sort of change to the code? What am I missing?

The fact that Apple, Twitter, Netflix, Postman, Slack, and a lot more companies are using it leaves me puzzled why anyone would not use it? It doesnt sound like Facebook (or its affiliates) could come after anyone using it, if it resorts to a BSD license?

(sax) #8

Unfortunately legal department of my company (80k employees, worldwide corporation) also have objections against that licence and does not recomment React to be used. Would be great if Facebook reconsiders the terms. Hate discussing patents and layers instead of innovation. :frowning:

(Tanekim77) #9

Same here. I was going to suggest my company to use React to build invoice application, but can’t because of this legal issue…

(Marc Cyr) #10

It’s too bad it sounds like your and other companies are more concerned with not losing the ability to sue another company than they are with fostering innovation. Definitely empathize with any frustration you are probably experiencing, Juan.

(Guirava) #11

It’s not so simple. Say your company has IP (and what company doesn’t?) and uses React . Now Facebook uses your IP and you complain about it : Facebook will revoke your React license, and if you used React for any significant product, it puts you in a very difficult position.

I actually don’t understand how anybody uses React, it seems like a really big risk.

(Murdav) #12

Looking for more clarifications I found an updated discussion:

They added some FAQs:

( Cat-sushi) #13

I’m here via wikipedia after posting some comments at the issue of github.
I haven’t got any response from facebook so far, because the issue is closed(?).
So, I would like to repeat here.

The FAQ doesn’t answer my question copied below.
What is the additional permission granted under PATENTS?
My understanding is that solo BSD License itself already grants essential claims of React, because BSD License is a royalty free OSS License approved by OSI who requires OSS licenses to be permissive without any additional license.
Consequently, I think no permission is granted under PATENTS additional to BSD License.

On the other hand, the FAQ says that PATENTS won’t revoke copyright license of BSD.
Does it mean that PATENTS might possibly revoke patent license granted under BSD License?
Even if so, I think that it is no longer BSD License and it is not appropriate to use the term of “BSD”.

And, why the target of prohibited lawsuit under PATENTS is so broad?
PATENTS grants no patent as I mentioned or only essential claims of React at most, in contrast, it intends to protect not only the software React but the company Facebook and more from any patent lawsuits by licensees.
Don’t you think that it is one-sided nor unfair?
Of course, I understand what you want to do and I think it might be a legitimate option, BUT it makes React difficult to be used by big commercial companies with hundreds of products/ services, with tens of thousand of staffs and with tens of affiliates.
I mean that, for such companies, it is almost impossible to reach consensus on licensing all their patents including ones they will obtain in the future as long as they use React freely to Facebook, all users of React and more, and it just result in avoidance of use of React.

For comparison, a similar license system of AOMedia grants only necessary claims of the codecs, and prohibits only patent lawsuits against the codecs but not against other things of the AOMedia members.
In this case, permitted rights and placed obligations are balanced, I think.
It may be said that AOMedia even as a anti-MPEG-patent party doesn’t offer such an aggressive anti-patent license as PATENTS of React.
The same goes for Apache License 2 of the former license of React.

By the way, licensees are licensees but not patent trolls, and patent trolls are patent trolls who don’t practice any real businesses possibly using React other than patent business.
So, only if a licensee is a potential competitor at the same time, the issue would surface.

Again, do you really put more weight on avoidance of patent lawsuits by licensees than on popularity of React?
I don’t hope so, but it’s your choice, after all.

I would like to hear from your IAAL person.

(Caligula Xy) #14

React is the greatest JavaScript innovation since JQuery, said by a dev coding JS since V. 1.

But now I’m totally confused.

My main business is to develop 3rd-party plugins for GPL-copy-left-software.

So as far as I understand, if I’m using React doing this business, every software vendor for whom I provide 3rd-party plugins, can sue me, because Reacts special BSD-lisence is not yet approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and or the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

When could we exspect a clarification by OSI and or FSF? What does it needs to do so?

(Sophie Alpert) #15

Sorry, I don’t know of anyone working with the OSI or FSF to obtain their explicit approval for React’s license. If you’d like them to comment on it, the best way may be to contact them yourself.

(Caligula Xy) #16

Update: 17.01.2017

So currently it’s NOT save to build with React on GPL-Software (majority of OSS-projects).

I’m wondering React is promoted via Youtube by big players like Drupal (GPL-2+) and widely used by some new WordPress-API-projects (GPL-2.0).

Further more, some people are already at loggerheads, regardless of the fact that this license is not approved yet.

On the other hand, there are big concerns about GPL-compatibility- here and on other places:

I already tried to contact FSF in other cases, but never got a response back.

To sad, it would be really nice to have a practical solution for open source developers.

Usually they have nothing to do with patents.

If I’m right, it needs a kind of ‘appropriate standing’ to initiate a review of the license by OSI…

Point 4 of…

Open Source Definition:

Facebook is premium sponsor of OSI (standing) :heart_eyes:. …and the interest of the OSS-community is huge.

Common Facebook! Please help us small business coders. Help the whole open source community.

(Caligula Xy) #17

Update 13.02.2017:

We got response from OSI:

Thank you for reaching out to the OSI. We are actually discussing this now. You can follow along via the OSI’s License Discuss mailing list. The initial thread begins here:

Update 14.02.2017:

The discussion phase has ended.

I don’t know how many active OSS-coders or small business coders were involved.
For my taste not enough participants at all, for such a decision (see mailing list).

An official statement from OSI is comming soon.

I also got in contact with FSF (again).
We will see what happens next (if something happens).

Guess this will have a huge impact on some already established projects by big players
and the open source community in general.

Since I cannot make more the 3 comments in this thread (limited to 3 for new users by admin), let me say that my point probably substantially differs from your point of view. So there is no general, major point someone could define. :grinning:

Update 25.02.2017:

FSF (Free Software Foundation) did it again! One automated ticket answer and then nothing more.

Great OSS community support!. Should they actually work for us, the community?

Meanwhile I hate this people. They act like a king of law in the dark ages.

And they are tackling my OSS business day by day, while it’s easier to get in contact with the Pope, then with them. :rage:

Official OSI statement is still pending.

Update 04.04.2017: After asking OSI about there progress, I get no answer anymore.

( Cat-sushi) #18

OSI certification is not the point.
The problem is the overly broad scope of non-assertion.
I’ve visualized the scope in my article

(Joe Narvaez) #19

Can someone address this? If React sees IP they like and if you built something with React, the IP is theirs for the taking… is it not?

(Sohan) #20

I have read a long thread here and git, it’s confusing me now completely. I am planning to use React and React Native for Android-IOS application for my clients.

Can they get legal complication later stage if we use React ?

i can see react and React Native having BSD licence,

While Angular having MIT licence.