Automattic Will Continue to Use React.js in Calypso Despite Patent Clause

Calypso is an application developed by Automattic that is built entirely with JavaScript using the Node and React libraries. React, etc., a site that covers news related to the React library, recently published an article highlighting how a license to use it in projects can be revoked.

React contains a patent clause that allows Facebook to revoke the license if certain conditions are met. The clause has raised concerns that Automattic could have its license revoked for Calypso if it competes directly with Facebook.

Not long after the public release of Calypso, Paul D. Fernhout created an issue on the project’s GitHub page. Among a number of other reasons, Fernhout suggested that React be replaced with Mithril, an alternative JavaScript library that doesn’t contain a clause.

Paul Sieminski, General Legal Counsel for Automattic, responded to the ticket explaining why the company will continue to use React in its products.

“Automattic looked at the legal issues with Facebook’s patent license on React,” Sieminski said. “The termination provisions of the patent license aren’t ideal, but are not a blocker to using React as part of Calypso.”

“The termination provisions don’t apply to the right to use the code – just the license included in the ‘PATENTS’ file. This license gives React users permission to use Facebook’s patents on React. Facebook’s intentions in including this additional license are admirable. As they say here – ‘[t]his grant was designed to ensure that developers can use our projects with confidence.'”

According to Sieminski, “The companies with the greatest concern are those that have large patent portfolios and engage in offensive patent litigation, especially against Facebook.”

“Automattic isn’t in that boat, and has no plans to be, so we’re comfortable using React under its current license,” he said.

Considering how complex patent laws are, developers using React are encouraged to seek legal advice from a reputable lawyer to determine if your use case violates Facebook’s patent clause.

Has the clause kept you from using React in your projects? Let us know in the comments.

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