Patent Pledge

Preface

Stacks was founded to create a user owned internet, an internet marked by true ownership and digital rights. Along the way, we’ve been fortunate enough to attract some of the best engineers and scientists. They have created exciting new networking and crypto technologies to accelerate what we call Web 3.0.

We’ve made these new technologies available on an open-source basis because we’re strongly committed to open innovation in the blockchain and software industries. We want the software and protocols of the Stacks network to be freely available to anyone who wants to use the Stacks network in any way. Anyone should be able to operate a node, send transactions on the network, or build a business. People should be free to extend, modify, and improve the open-source software for the Stacks community and beyond.

The GPLv3 and MIT licenses used for various components of the open-source software developed for the Stacks network align with our mission of building an open, user-owned internet.

In recent years, we’ve noticed that many large corporations have started collecting a substantial number of blockchain-related patents. We want to avoid a situation where such patents obtained by parties outside of the Stacks ecosystem can be problematic in the future for the developers and users of the Stacks network and the Stacks apps. To ensure these technologies remain available to the Stacks community and beyond, we’ve felt compelled to seek patent protection for defensive purposes for the Stacks community.

The reality of the software industry is that bad actors can get their hands on patents, and they can make life difficult for the innovators building a better internet. To protect against potential bad actors, Hiro has sought patent protection for specific components of the broader Stacks network, and we’re pledging 100% of our existing patents (as of December 2020) for defensive purposes only. We plan to periodically update our list of patents covered by this pledge if Hiro is awarded further patents in the future. This pledge means that we’ll never use our patents to try to sue innovators who are helping to build a user owned internet, and we’ll use the patents defensively only when someone is trying to stifle that innovation.

This pledge goes beyond the broad patent licenses already included as part of our open-source licenses. As an example, the Stacks blockchain software is licensed under the GNU General Public License v3 open source license, which includes a broad patent license to users and developers who wish to use or further develop the Stacks blockchain software. This pledge, however, goes a step further and is inclusive of users and developers outside the Stacks ecosystem. Also, alternative implementations of the core Stacks protocols, e.g., a separate implementation of the Stacks blockchain, not developed by Hiro, will be covered by this patent pledge.

We believe this pledge reflects our mission and our values—to return ownership of the internet to you, the users. We encourage other entities in the Stacks ecosystem to consider a similar stance on defensive patents. To learn more about our pledge, please read below.


Our Pledge

Hiro pledges that it will not initiate a lawsuit against any party for infringing a Hiro Patent through activity relating to Free or Open-Source Software, except for Defensive Purposes, as defined below.

Hiro intends this Pledge to be legally binding, irrevocable, and enforceable against Hiro, any subsidiaries or affiliates it controls, and its successors and assigns. Thus, Hiro will require any person or entity to whom it sells, assigns, transfers, or conveys any Hiro Patents to agree, in writing, to abide by the Pledge and to place a similar requirement on any subsequent transferees to do the same.

Definition of Key Terms

“Hiro” means, for purposes of this Pledge, Hiro Systems PBC and any subsidiaries or affiliates that it controls.

"Hiro Patents" means the patents set forth in the section entitled Hiro Patents Covered by the Pledge.

“Defensive Purposes” means an assertion of legal rights against a party who, directly or indirectly, files, maintains, threatens, voluntarily participates in, or has a financial stake in any claim, cross-claim, or counterclaim for infringement of patent or other intellectual property right against Hiro or any other party based upon the development, manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, lease, license, exportation, importation, or distribution of technologies claimed in the Hiro Patents or invented by Hiro.

“Free or Open-Source Software” means any software that is licensed or otherwise distributed to the public in such a way that satisfies any version of “The Open Source Definition” provided by the Open Source Initiative at opensource.org/osd or any version of “The Free Software Definition” provided by the Free Software Foundation at gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html.

“Pledge” means the promises set forth in the section entitled Our Pledge.

Legal Effect

This Pledge covers only patents listed in the section entitled Hiro Patents Covered by the Pledge. It excludes patents owned by third parties. Hiro cannot assure that the technologies covered in its patents do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of any third party. Blockstack PBC makes no representations and disclaims any and all warranties as to the validity or enforceability of the Hiro Patents.

To preserve Hiro’s ability to enforce the Hiro Patents for Defensive Purposes, the Pledge is not a waiver of any patent claims and is not a license, covenant not to sue, or authorization to engage in patented activities or a limitation on remedies, damages, or claims. Except as expressly stated in the Pledge, no rights shall be deemed granted, waived, or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel, or otherwise. The Pledge is not an indication of the value of an arms-length negotiated license or a reasonable royalty.

Hiro may still enter into license agreements under individually negotiated terms for those who wish to use Hiro technology but cannot or do not wish to rely on this Pledge alone.

Hiro Patents Covered by the Pledge

The Pledge covers the following patents:

Last updated: December 29, 2020. This Pledge is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License. It contains modified portions of the Blockstream Patent Pledge and the Google Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge.