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Business Strategy & IP

Numenta Office

Numenta’s business strategy and approach to intellectual property (IP) is to create an active research community as well as to enable strong commercial opportunities. To that end, we follow these general principles:

  1. Transparency. We openly publish our scientific findings, software, intellectual property, and business strategy. There are no hidden agendas.
  2. Scientific Use. Anyone can freely use our software and intellectual property for non-commercial purposes.
  3. Commercial Deployment. Our software can be used for free under an AGPL license. If the AGPL license is not a good fit, we offer low cost licenses that enable commercial use and create a sustainable business opportunity for Numenta.

1. Transparency

We have enabled a community of researchers and developers working on HTM technology in the NuPIC open source community at http://numenta.org. We post all of our application and algorithm code in NuPIC as well as our research updates as they occur. We publish our work in peer-reviewed journals and submit pre-publication manuscripts to arXiv. We also speak at a variety of forums, such as machine learning, data science, neuroscience, and application-specific events. Other than confidential information relating to partner relationships, products or data, we work as much in the open as possible.

Given the uniqueness of our work and our early focus on temporal data, we have been issued over thirty U.S. and international patents. The list of issued U.S. patents can be found here. In addition, we have international patents filed that are not included in this list. We believe these patents cover some of the foundational principles of machine intelligence.

2. Scientific Use

Our software, along with its associated IP, is available at http://numenta.org under the AGPLv3 license at no cost. Scientists, researchers, and students are able to use our technology by agreeing to the terms of this open source license. For those researchers who are unable to use the AGPLv3 license, we have created a separate, no-cost, non-commercial, trial license.

For those scientists and researchers who want to use our intellectual property without our software, or whose work may be covered by our patents, we make a clear statement of non-assertion: as long as your work is for non-commercial use, we will not assert our patents.

3. Commercial Deployment

In our terminology, commercial use means using the technology or patents to create a product or service that is sold, licensed, hosted, or offered to customers or business partners as standalone functionality or as part of another product, whether for a fee or not. In addition, commercial use includes deploying the technology or patents internally to be used in any business process. For example, if you use our technology or patents internally to monitor performance of your IT servers, even if you don’t offer it to others, we view this as commercial use.

Commercial partners are welcome to use our software under the terms of the AGPLv3 license. For those who want to distribute derivative software and do not want to accept these terms, we have a commercial license available, which may change as we develop our business.

For those who do not want to license our software but want to license our patents, we will offer a patent-only license. Our intention is to offer low-cost ways for partners to commercialize this technology. We believe that a broad-based strategy is compelling for a technology that is likely to be widely deployed in time. Please contact us at sales@numenta.com if you are interested in this license.

Summary of Numenta Licenses

Software (includes IP)Patents Only
Scientists, Researchers, or any Non-commercial useAGPLv3 or trial license (both no cost)Non-assert statement for non-commercial purposes
Commercial useUse internally only: AGPLv3 (no cost)Able to offer to others under the terms of the AGPLv3, including making source code available: AGPLv3 (no cost)Prefer to keep code proprietary: Commercial license (fee)Patent license (under development – fee TBD)

Numenta Licensing FAQ

I operate a business. Why wouldn’t I use the free AGPL version for my product?
You are welcome to do so under the terms of that license. AGPL is a “copyleft” license. It requires that if you distribute or make available your software (either directly or through a SaaS model), you must also distribute the source code under the AGPL license. For some companies and some situations, that is an acceptable requirement. However, companies who want to keep the resulting code proprietary will prefer a commercial license.
If I do not intend to distribute or make available as a SaaS implementation any derivative software, then it seems to me that I can use the AGPL version internally without any additional license, even if it is for a commercial purpose. For example, I run a hedge fund and I figured out how to use NuPIC to advantage, but I don’t distribute the software or results, nor do I make it available to others. Is this correct?
Generally you may use the software and patents for internal use under the AGPL. Note, however, if you do not use our open-source software (and thus do not fall under the AGPL), you WOULD need a license for our IP. For example, say you do your own, very specific version of HTM for your hedge fund. Once you deploy that within your company for any productive purpose (as opposed to research), you would need an IP license from us because you are not under the AGPL.
I’m a researcher who uses different machine learning techniques. I’m trying to add capabilities that are similar to Numenta, i.e. using temporal data streams in a hierarchy, but I’m not using your software. What are my obligations relative to Numenta?
For researchers who are doing work that is covered by Numenta patents, we have promised to not assert our patents for any non-commercial use including publications, teaching, and experimentation. We do ask that you provide appropriate citations of our work. Make sure to visit our current repository of research papers. If you are a corporate researcher who is applying this technology to commercial use, then you will need to evaluate the Numenta patent portfolio to see if our patents cover your work. If so, you should contact us to explore a patent license.