Using GraphQL? Why Facebook Used To Own You 🎉

TL;DR

Facebook’s GraphQL spec doesn’t grant a patent license. Therefore, for reasons as set forth below, most GraphQL users infringe Facebook’s patents.

Background

I’m not into fud. Hell, I just called Facebook’s React BSD + Patents license a paper tiger. But GraphQL + patents is a tiger of a different stripe. (Sorry)

Schoolhouse Rock: How an application becomes a patent.

First, it’s important to get a satellite view of how this process works. It starts with the initial application. To craft the initial application, an attorney interviews an inventor. The attorney then searches for prior art that makes the claimed invention not novel or obvious. When he or she is satisfied that there is patentable material in the inventor’s disclosure, the attorney drafts claims and writes the description.

Facebook’s GraphQL Patent, 13/601796.

Facebook’s patent application is allowed. It will become an issued patent any day. I’ll refer to it as a patent, but if you’re searching, it’s still an application and 13/601796 is the application number.

What’s a “social networking system?”

“Social networking system” probably jumped off the page when you read it. What is it and what does it mean?

Implications of GraphQL Patents

They’re wide ranging and scary. Assuming that your implementation practices all claimed elements and you have some kind of social network, it’s likely that you’re infringing Facebook’s patents. And now that the patent is issued, it will be given the presumption of validity in court. The USPTO may have issued the patent in error, but it will be the Defendant’s job to prove the error. No thanks.

Summary

For the reasons set out above, most GraphQL users are likely infringing Facebook’s patents. Facebook should immediately include a patent grant into the GraphQL spec to stop justified panic and GraphQL abandonment.

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Dennis Walsh

Dennis Walsh

Patent / IP Attorney |> Software Developer