What is the Defensive Patent License?

The Defensive Patent License ("DPL") is a new legal mechanism designed to protect innovators by networking patents into powerful, mutually beneficial legal shields that are 100% committed to defending innovation and reducing patent litigation abuse.

Why do we need the DPL?

The current patent system poses a growing threat to innovators. Broad patents of often suspect quality can cripple legitimate competitors and prevent new entrants’ access to the marketplace. Patent trolls buy these broad patents and use them to threaten everyone from large companies to start-ups to municipalities and non-profits. The DPL provides a calculated response to these threats by encouraging innovators to patent for defensive purposes only and by keeping those patents reliably defensive over time. The DPL accomplishes this by tying the patents to royalty-free licenses that negate the ability of trolls to later weaponize them against DPL users.

How does the DPL work?

Innovators who opt into the DPL network pledge to forgo any patent litigation against any other DPL user, except when asserting patents defensively. In return, they are eligible to receive royalty-free licenses from every other user’s portfolio. Anyone taking a license must promise to put all of her patents under the DPL. In the event that the patents are sold, DPL users must legally obligate the new owner to abide by prior DPLs. If one ceases offering one’s patents under the DPL, previous licensees keep their DPLs royalty-free, but the leaving user may have her licenses converted from royalty-free to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND) at the discretion of the remaining licensors.

How does the DPL help?

With a broad strong network of reliably defensive patents at their disposal, DPL users gain freedom to innovate. The DPL is also designed to help limit lawsuit risks from patent trolls, as trolls are unlikely to pursue acquisition and enforcement of patents that have been legally obligated to defensive use and licensed to DPL users on a royalty-free basis.

What is DPL 1.1?

DPL 1.1 is the version of the DPL that is ready for active use. In the future, we expect to consider adding a limited number of additional “flavors” (like the Creative Commons licenses) — if they would strongly support important innovation models that need them — but DPL 1.1 is the foundational license.

How did you design DPL 1.1?

We designed DPL 1.1 based on our original model license with input from open innovators, technology entrepreneurs, and patent policy experts. The license itself has had the benefit of over two years of review, discussion, and language modifications, including excellent feedback from our Working Group and an impressive and extensive array of technologists, engineers, legal scholars, open innovation practitioners, patent and licensing lawyers, and investors. We are especially thankful to the technology community, which has supported the DPL at every turn.

Who is advising you?

We have assembled an Advisory Board with tremendous depth and breadth of expertise in defensive patenting, F/OSS licensing, tech patents, and open innovation to guide the DPL Foundation. We are very grateful for their advice and guidance.

What is next?

We will be launching the DPL 1.1 on December 9, 2014. We are also creating a 501(c)(3) that will be the home of the DPL and will oversee the evolution of the license and facilitate its adoption and use. It will also maintain a resource listing known DPL users and their patents.

How do I start using the DPL?

Take a stand against patent abuse!  Commit to defensiveness and license your patents under the DPL.

To join the DPL community, you simply declare on a publicly available website your commitment to offer any patents you have or obtain under the DPL to anyone who makes a similar commitment (what we are calling an “Offering Announcement”) and then, when you contact another DPL user to accept the license to its patents, you provide it with the URL for the website where you posted your commitment.

We also encourage you to email your Offering Announcement URL to the DPL Foundation at defensivepatent@gmail.com so others can learn about it and contact you to accept your licenses. In addition to sending the link to your Offering Announcement, please include your current contact information for licensing purposes and a list of your patents (including country of issue, patent no., and title).


All content on this site, such as descriptions, blog posts, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other information, is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  It is not a substitute for individualized legal advice and may not cover important issues that affect you.  We strongly urge that you talk to a lawyer about your specific legal rights and options.

Using this website or sending us email does not create an attorney-client relationship. The general legal information is provided on an ‘as-is’ basis.  We make no warranties regarding the general legal information provided on this website, and disclaim liability for damages resulting from its use.