The React.js Licensing comes back to haunt us

Apache Foundation recommends against using Facebook BSD+patents licensed artifacts

Gabriela Motroc
Facebook BSD+patents

© Shutterstock / Marques

The React.js licensing dilemma has resurfaced. The difference now is that the Apache Foundation recommends against using React.js and other software using the Facebook BSD+patents license.

The React.js Licensing issue comes back to haunt us. In a JIRA ticket about patents, Apache Foundation Legal recommends against using React.js and other software using the Facebook BSD+patents license.

The ticket is actually about RocksDB, a database engine from Facebook which is now dual-licensed under GPL 2.0 and Apache 2.0, according to Craig L Russell.  

Uncomplicating the Facebook BSD+patents license discussion

Chris Mattmann, Principal Data Scientist in the Engineering Administrative Office and the Program Manager of the Open Source Projects and Applications and NSF Offices at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) wrote in the JIRA ticket that he sent all Apache PMC a notice with the following content:

  • No new project, sub-project or codebase, which has not used Facebook BSD+patents licensed jars (or similar), are allowed to use them. In other words, if you haven’t been using them, you aren’t allowed to start. It is Cat-X.
  • If you have been using it, and have done so in a *release*, you have a temporary exclusion from the Cat-X classification thru August 31, 2017. At that point in time, ANY and ALL usage of these Facebook BSD+patents licensed artifacts are DISALLOWED. You must either find a suitably licensed replacement or do without. There will be NO exceptions.
  • Any situation not covered by the above is an implicit DISALLOWAL of usage.

Read the entire thread here

React patent rights

Facebook patents: React — just a quick reminder:

The license granted hereunder will terminate, automatically and without notice, if you (or any of your subsidiaries, corporate affiliates or agents) initiate directly or indirectly, or take a direct financial interest in, any Patent Assertion: (i) against Facebook or any of its subsidiaries or corporate affiliates, (ii) against any party if such Patent Assertion arises in whole or in part from any software, technology, product or service of Facebook or any of its subsidiaries or corporate affiliates, or (iii) against any party relating to the Software. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if Facebook or any of its subsidiaries or corporate affiliates files a lawsuit alleging patent infringement against you in the first instance, and you respond by filing a patent infringement counterclaim in that lawsuit against that party that is unrelated to the Software, the license granted hereunder will not terminate under section (i) of this paragraph due to such counterclaim.

Facebook uses a standard BSD license paired with an additional patent grant for most of their open source projects — the combination is called the Facebook BSD+Patents license.

SEE ALSO: Think open source software is free? Think again…

The conversation around the license has moved to Reddit. There are over 150 comments right now about the BSD+ license especially regarding the differences between how patents work in the US versus how things work in the European Union. According to a Redditor, “it’s pretty much this: if you use the code, you have to give the author(s) credit in your documentation.”

The tech giant has compiled some answers to common questions about the additional patent grant:

Facebook Open Source License FAQ. Source:

For more information about the BSD license, see this post.

To find out more about the licensing of React, check out this post by the Open Source Initiative.

Does this open the door for alternatives? Use the comments section to tell us what you think.



Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is an online editor for Before working at S&S Media she studied International Communication Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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