As of this post, one of the top post on Hacker News is on a topic regarding the legal implications of developers utilizing React.js in their development of web applications.
One of the HN users, briandear, tried to break it down:
So if I understand correctly, if I were to use React for a marketing website about my patented system for and Facebook steals/uses that extremely valuable invention, I can’t sue Facebook by virtue of using React?
Obviously, if that were to happen, you’d simply have to stop using React or else you’d get countersued for using React without a license right?
Why would anyone use React ever if that’s how it works? It feels like a payday loan – React makes it “easy” right now, but if your business is built dependent on React, you could pay a serious price later in exchange for “right now” convenience. It makes a strong case for Ember or Glimmer or any of the other front-end systems not tied to Facebook. Imagine a React “Native” app around which your business is based – you’d have to rewrite the entire thing of Facebook were to start using some patented aspect of your business.
Perhaps I am misinformed, but it seems absolutely bonkers to essentially indemnify Facebook from patent infringement just by virtue of using React somewhere in your business.
Imagine if Apple did this: if you release on the App Store using Xcode, you can’t sue us for any patent infringement ever or we’ll sue you for using Xcode illegally.
Is my assessment correct? Is React that good to risk such a situation? Facebook could sit back and watch a company using React develop something amazing, then Facebook could steal it and you’d have no recourse but to stop using React. Meanwhile, while you are rebuilding your application, you lose all your customers, but if you don’t rebuild your application, Facebook can legally take your invention and crush you in the market. Either way, you lose – simply because a few developers on the team were insistent on React’s greatness. If I were a VC, I’d be incredibly wary about supporting a company using React for their primary application…
And the response from another user, khuey:
Yes, your understanding is largely correct. To be clear, you can still sue Facebook for stealing your patented invention, but then your grant to any patents that your use of React infringes would expire and Facebook could countersue over that. Facebook legal’s response to this concern has been largely obfuscation and “trust us” which is not encouraging. They did change the patent grant two years ago to allow you to assert patent claims against Facebook without losing the grant if Facebook sues you first, but that’s of limited utility.
From someone who is learning Phoenix, and was going to eventually dive into React.js, this took me back and has me reconsidering. Not to say that everything I create with React.js would be of extreme value, but it is good to be aware, which is one of the reasons why I am posting this here. Moreover, I wanted to hear the thoughts from people in the elixirforum community.