React, Suing, and You

by on 08/29/2017

I have been googling a lot of React stuff lately to try and develop my Bourn app, and Google does this thing where it shows you articles about the crap you search. So I got an article that was titled something like “Don’t use React until you read this!”, total click bait. So I clicked… The information that was in it was really interesting.  Basically the article was talking about that if you use React there is a patent rider. What the patent does it lets you use their stuff, which is what almost all open source software allows you to do, but it doesn’t stop there.  What the underlying legal mumbo jumbo says is that if you use React in your app you have no grounds to sue Facebook as long as React is in the app.  And if you do, they can remove the license for you to use React and they can sue you for patent infringement. I am probably wrong with the term, but not being a lawyer I feel OK with saying it like that.  Part of me accepts this as a liability for using such an amazing framework, but then the other part of me thinks that I should never make anything cool with this or there might be a chance to get severely screwed.

Now with that being said there has to be a lot of circumstances happen before you would get the aforementioned screwing.  First you would have to make something that was so good that Facebook would decide to clone it and put it on their site.  Second you would have to find that thing, then sue for intellectual property infringement (or whatever the grounds would be) then they would revoke your licence and then counter sue.  So there are a lot of things that would have to be done.  With all of that there is actually a way out, and a way to sue and just get lost up in a legal battle with a billion dollar company, just stop using React.js.

Mentioned in a bunch of articles were simply the rule that if you feel Facebook stole something from you or you just want to sue them, simply take React out of your app. This way they can’t counter sue, but I’m sure you would be locked in a legal battle for quite some time, which would then drain all of your funds and you would just have to settle or drop the case.  I don’t think they can just revoke the license out of nowhere either, you have to sue them first.  So as long as you don’t want to go down that road, just don’t sue.  That is quite the protection that Facebook has, and I hope more companies use something like this with their software.  If you genuinely think that your idea is being stolen and you have a finished product that is super similar to someone else, which you believe copied yours, by all means sue and hopefully you win.  But in the world of patent trolls, and things of that nature it wouldn’t put it past people to just create small apps that kind of do things like the big companies and just start suing.  Hopefully they get hush money and they continue on.  I think there is an episode of ‘Silicon Valley’ called patent troll that explains this way better than I can.  If you have HBO or can get the series you really need to give it a go.

All of this, at first, scared me into using React for my app.  Then I started to think about it so me more, and I feel and hope that if Facebook saw my app as a threat to their platform they would just throw some money at it and use it or destroy it.  Simple as that.  And for something as trivial as what I am making if I get money for it, sweet Jesus that would be awesome.  I’m not remaking the wheel here, just making a tool so it is easier to watch multiple YouTube videos at once.  Not really rocket surgery or anything there.

I just thought this was super interesting and wanted to bring it up. This also brings up another good point that make sure to read the licences of the Open Source software, music, image, etc that you use.  Some may have weird clauses in them that if and if you don’t adhere to it you could lose something that you worked really hard on.

Let me know if you use React and if you have seen this, thought about switching, or really could give two shits.  Also if there is anything that is not correct in what I said let me know as well.  I took the article as what I wrote down, but if that is wrong I would like to correct myself.  [Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12108158]

Fun Fact: According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering from snacking and eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings.