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Recently, i read the following article :

If you’re a startup, you should not use React (reflecting on the BSD + patents license).


The example in this article :

Fridgebook Inc.

For the sake of illustration, say you’re a fridge company “Fridgebook Inc.” who markets intelligent fridges. Your fridges have a screen that runs your proprietary application, and you use React for the UI.

Overnight, you hear that Facebook decides to move into the fridge industry, and they’ve announced the worldwide launch of their new product: “FBfridge”, in just 1 week.

In the hypothetical case that Facebook blatantly infringes some of your patents with ‘FBfridge’, what can you do?

Well, you cannot sue them immediately. You’re using React on the customer-facing app, remember?

If you sue them before migrating to something else (like vue.js), you will immediately lose the license grant for React, and suddenly you’re in breach yourself, fighting against a potential lawsuit for illegal use of software, from an almost-$500-billion company, all by yourself.

And obviously, you don’t want to interrupt customer service.

So if you want to sue them, or at least hold any leverage for doing so, you will need to find a solution to migrate away from React in record time.


My question:

Is the claim in that article accurate, and we have to go away from React to avoid Facebook laws ?

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Adding to what Martin Bonner said: If you are a startup, and your grand plan is to be bought by a big company for a lot of money, and that big company thinks your use of React makes it risky to buy you, then you will lose out. It doesn't matter whether there is a risk, what matters is whether a potential buyer believes there is a risk.

And if that is your plan, then you need to re-read Martin's answer from the point of view of a bigger company. You may not have any valuable patents, but that bigger company might. If I have an LLC with no money, then I can say "I don't care if Facebook sues me for 100 millions, I'll just let the LLC go bankrupt and start another one". If the company is worth millions or more, then the risk is much higher.

  • This means that developing a startup project with React is so dangerous in the case of my grand plan is to be bought by a big company, and i should find the alternatives ? – Anyname Donotcare Aug 23 '17 at 12:13
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    If you find an alternative that is equally good, or almost as good, then you should look at those alternatives. On the other hand, if you think React is so valuable that you can create a product significantly faster, that would likely compensate for the risk. – gnasher729 Aug 23 '17 at 18:38
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If you hold patents which you can imagine Facebook violating, then yes, you really need to avoid using React.

The BSD + patents license says that if you sue Facebook for patent violation, that removes the license FB granted you to use their patents in React.

There is actually another necessary condition before you need to move away from React: you have to believe that it would be uneconomic for your company to defend a patent infringement case from FB. This is very likely; even if you could win in the end, the opportunity costs of the management time involved in defending such a case would be huge. However the flip side is that even if FB violated your patents it might not be worth suing them - patent litigation is notoriously unpredictable. If you don't think you would sue them, there is less point avoiding React (not "no point", because the mere fact you are using React might make them more like to take the risk and violate your patent.)

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