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ROS2 and DDS IPR issues

As others have mentioned already, nobody is going to provide you with a guarantee of immunity from patent infringement claims. They’re a perennial risk in the modern software business.

With respect to DDS and RTPS, I would direct you to the vendor list maintained by OMG. I don’t know (and don’t wish to learn) what patent agreements may exist among those vendors, but I take great encouragement from the fact that 14 organizations are offering implementations of the specification. (Btw, there exist RMW layers for 6 of those implementations.)

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DDS wouldn’t be useful if people couldn’t use it. DDS is an Object Management Group (a.k.a. OMG) open standard. OMG IPR policy is available at https://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/doc.cgi?ipr
DDS 1.5 RTF operates under RF-Limited (as did the 1.4 RTF) https://www.omg.org/techprocess/meetings/schedule/Data_Distribution_Service_1.5_RTF.html
RTPS TCP-IP PSM for DDS Interop RFP process runs under non-assert https://www.omg.org/techprocess/meetings/schedule/RTPS_TCP-IP_PSM_for_DDS_Interop_RFP.html
OMG legal is Howard Zaharoff if further discussion is warranted, message me to get in touch.

I’m involved because besides ROS2 TSC, I’m on BoD of OMG which manages DDS spec, we ADLINK Technology co-chair the DDS TC and we contribute with many others to the open source Eclipse Cyclone DDS ROS middleware which is a project of Eclipse Foundation’s Eclipse IoT and OpenADx (autonomous driving) WGs.

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Thank you very much for this further information. However, some of the links require OMG membership account. Is it possible to get more open access versions?

These are the links I mean:

https://www.omg.org/techprocess/meetings/schedule/Data_Distribution_Service_1.5_RTF.html

https://www.omg.org/techprocess/meetings/schedule/RTPS_TCP-IP_PSM_for_DDS_Interop_RFP.html

Yes, unfortunately both of those are not yet released OMG standards apparently.

I think this is why a license file exists in every implementation of DDS. Here is the snippet from https://github.com/eProsima/Fast-RTPS/blob/master/LICENSE

“Grant of Patent License. Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, each Contributor hereby grants to You a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this section) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell, sell, import, and otherwise transfer the Work, where such license applies only to those patent claims licensable by such Contributor that are necessarily infringed by their Contribution(s) alone or by combination of their Contribution(s) with the Work to which such Contribution(s) was submitted. If You institute patent litigation against any entity (including a cross-claim or counterclaim in a lawsuit) alleging that the Work or a Contribution incorporated within the Work constitutes direct or contributory patent infringement, then any patent licenses granted to You under this License for that Work shall terminate as of the date such litigation is filed.”

That’s the clause of the Apache 2.0 license relating to patents. Commercial implementations of DDS are less likely to be released under an open source license, and the license provided may or may not include a clause about patent rights. However usually when you buy a license to a commercial implementation, I think there is an expectation that you are buying a license to any patents involved in its use and that the provider has taken care of patent licenses for those patents they don’t own.

Apologies for sharing in progress versions. Here is released standard DDS 1.4 https://www.omg.org/spec/DDS/ which operates under RF limited.

I think joespeed has already provided a similar answer, but I’ll elaborate a little on the DDS and RTPS IP. (I work for RTI)

OMG has crisp IPR policies. All specifications and specification revisions fall under one the three IPR Modes: Non-Assert, RF-Limited, or RAND. (see http://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/doc?ipr/12-09-02.pdf).

Both DDS and RTPS are released under the “RF-Limited Terms,” the terms are copied below:

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RF LIMITED TERMS

Each Obligated Party in an RF on Limited Terms IPR Mode Adoption or Revision Process covenants that it will grant to an unrestricted number of applicants a royalty and fee free, nonexclusive, worldwide, non-sublicensable, perpetual patent license to its Essential Claims on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms to make, have made, use, import, offer to sell, sell, and otherwise directly or indirectly distribute Covered Implementations of such OMG Formal Specification, provided that it may not impose any further conditions or restrictions beyond those specifically mentioned in Appendix B on the use of any technology or intellectual property rights or the behavior of the Licensee, but may include reasonable, customary terms relating to operation or maintenance of the license relationship, including choice of law and dispute resolution.

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All the submitters to the DDS/RTPS specifications and their revisions, are “obligated parties” which means they agreed to grant licenses of any IPR that is essential to implement the specifications.

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