Herkko Hietanen notes that maybe Nokia’s patent pledge is not as restrictive as I thought:
Anonymoys reader makes a good remark in his comment about the Nokias gesture.
“That is, since they are publishing the kernel source (and applications) covered under the GPL, they can’t impose additional conditions — such as keeping current on patent royalties — on the use of that code. In fact, their obligations extend beyond their announcement. If I extract code from the kernel and put it in my program, they can’t enforce patents on that either.”
GPL does that. Nokia had to make the announcement. They distribute Linux hence any of their patents must be available to use with Linux under GPL.
Nokia, one of the biggest software patents lobbyists in the EU, surprisingly shows some support for free software. According to the statement, “Nokia hereby commits not to assert any of its Patents (as defined herein below) against any Linux Kernel (as defined herein below) existing as of 25 May 2005.” This means any Nokia patents can be used in the kernel. This would be wonderful - if it was for real. The statement goes on:
The aforesaid non-assertion shall extend to any future Linux Kernel to the extent that Nokia does not declare any new functionality embodied in such Linux Kernel to be outside the scope of this Patent Statement. Nokia shall issue such declaration through its website no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the official release of such Linux Kernel. (Emphasis added.)
You’re allowed to use my patents - unless I tell you not to. A trap is also included: because you’re only allowed to use those patents in the official kernel, if such code is copied to any other software (say *BSD), the patent license doesn’t apply anymore.
In other news, Nokia announced a Linux-based device.