No RAND in OASIS
David Webber (XML)
david at drrw.info
Sat Apr 16 14:11:36 UTC 2005
I've just been reviewing the NYT peice - it is indeed a
welcome development - and provides useful reporting.
I particularly like the quote on page two of the piece:
"It seemed to us the pendulum has swung way too far in the
direction of companies blindly chasing patents, and blindly
chasing the enforcement of patents," Mr. Kelly said.
But there clearly is much work to be done yet. I do this
opens up an opportunity for OASIS to adjust its current
draft IPR policy and review that in the light of this new
There are some rocks and storms ahead in the water
however - also from the peice - see below - but what
I find especially interesting is that for the first time we
are seeing that certain areas should be deemed "off limits",
and especially the work of open standards and for
use in global commerce. Added to this the notion
of making broad and open ended patents much
harder to obtain.
These are things I have articulated previously too -
that the level of redress should be tied to the significance
of the patent.
Good things happen when people are
prepared to open up their thinking about a
There is also a sense of urgency to the intellectual property issue, I.B.M.
executives say, because government officials in the United States, Europe,
China and elsewhere are expected to make crucial policy decisions in the
next year or two.
I.B.M., not surprisingly, wants a "balanced" intellectual property policy
intended to maintain incentives for inventors and to foster open technical
standards so collaboration can flourish. It supports proposals in the United
States to make software patents more difficult to obtain, hoping to help
curb the patent-and-litigate frenzy.
The company is particularly interested in a proposed law to harmonize patent
rules in the 25 countries of the European Union. Many European countries,
legal specialists say, effectively allow software patents already as
computer-accomplished inventions, which cover hardware and software working
A proposal last month by the European Commission would recognize and define
software patents across Europe as computer-accomplished inventions. But it
would also require patent holders sometimes to share the technology to
create open standards.
The commission recommendation contains a provision that says software for
allowing data sharing across different computer systems - interoperability,
in computer terms - should be open. And interoperability, the commission
added, should trump intellectual property rights, regardless of a company's
patents. I.B.M., for one, is a strong proponent of that approach.
But the compromise is fiercely opposed by some open-source advocates, small
businesses and politicians, who argue that the formal legal endorsement of
software patents could slow innovation, invite lawsuits and mainly serve the
interests of big American software companies.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen at rosenlaw.com>
To: <license-discuss at opensource.org>
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 8:34 PM
Subject: No RAND in OASIS
> I don't believe this letter has received much press, but it is important
> the entire free software and open source community. I believe we achieved
> important victory in OASIS about patents.
> Dear colleagues,
> This morning I was delighted to read in the New York Times that IBM has
> committed "all of its future patent contributions to the largest standards
> group for electronic commerce on the Web, the Organization for the
> Advancement of Structured Information Standards, would be free." 
> I don't think it is too soon to congratulate ourselves that a huge battle
> has been won. IBM is the big gorilla in the patent zoo, and when it agrees
> to open standards in OASIS we're a good long way to victory. I'm confident
> other companies will join as they recognize that it is in their own best
> interest to do so. The newspaper story doesn't have all the details, of
> course, and companies (through their lawyers and standards professionals)
> will be rewriting the rules over time to implement freedom in OASIS. There
> may still be skirmishes among the professionals. But in broad brush, I
> we just won "No RAND in OASIS."
> The free software and open source communities and customers worldwide can
> apparently be reassured that a large chunk of patents have been made
> available for free when we implement OASIS industry standards. That's good
> Of course, as Richard Stallman and many others remind us, software patents
> continue to confound even when we're not implementing industry standard
> software. Most of us believe the entire patent system is ripe for dramatic
> reform to better meet its stated goals. Many of us share a dream of a rich
> commons of software and content that is free from so-called "intellectual
> property" ownership. That's the broader war many of us continue to fight.
> But the battle in OASIS, I predict, will soon be history.
> Thanks to each of the signatories, and to the many folks around the world
> who wrote in support.
> Best regards,
> /Lawrence Rosen
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