Numenta Licensing FAQ

Q. 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 also must 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.

Q. 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 a commercial IP license from us because you are not under the AGPL.

Q. 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.

Q. Why do you call your software “reference code”? Is it deployable?

In creating software, our principle mission is to enable the advancement of our research through experimentation. In the past, we have created several sample applications and tools that could be very helpful to licensees to create deployable applications. However, we are not adding certain functionality to facilitate deployment and are not providing technical support, so we offer the code as reference only and encourage licensees to develop their own deployable code.