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Subject: Re: [chairs] Re-visiting IPR and OASIS

Thanks for taking the time to root out this document for me.
Some thoughts - this document falls between two stools - while it
references the situation in the software industry - it still veers
back toward patents in the large.
It does give a good view into the current status quo and
modus operandi around us.
But it also makes no reference to standards bodies and the type
of work we do in OASIS and how this fits in - (I may have missed
something in my speed reading - but nothing jumped out - and
especially not in the Conclusions).
Including software into patents has been an experiment.  I think
its time the PTO and FTC admitted this is a failure - because it
has had the result of changing the process of software innovation
for the worse, not the better.  You could now make a strong
case for reversing this decision and excluding software entirely.
Blackbox v Whitebox - what we do in OASIS is develop whitebox
specifications.  Blackbox stuff is things like I used to work-on -
like parallel processing algorithms for computer detection
of image patterns in image bitstreams.  This is delivered as
a compiled library - where the code has been obfuscated
and reverse engineering of the inner algorithms is harder
than just developing your own algorithms.  Time to market
factors negate any patent protection in anycase.
So - I would argue that whitebox development by its very
nature is likely to always be around obvious and unpatentable
concepts and especially in an open standard community -
because if it ain't obvious - your adoption rates are going to
be low!
Be that as it may - the other problem I see with patents
and software is the level of research effort compared to the
redress afforded in patent liability law.  It's like handing
every terrorist who wants one an atomic bomb.  If
software patents are to continue - then there needs to
be a graduated scale of liability.  Anyway - I don't want
to take up bandwidth here discussing all this in detail.
Back to the point at hand - which is I'm still not seeing
how the OASIS IPR changes afford any protection
except to encourage and foster yet more IPR by
acknowledging that we might have processes that IPR
applies too in the first place!
This is why I was arguing that we need options that
allow TC's to specifically distance their work from
any form of IPR so as to keep a clear and visible
distinction in place.
This particularly applies to open source
implementations and the sub-licensing proposed
options which clearly conflict.  We see that
the Apache project and IETF are taking clear
stands on this - so why are we adopting policies
that potentially inhibit use of our specifications in
such environments?
This still has not been resolved here that I have
seen - other than directives that "it's in there - trust us".
For those TCs effected by this - I don't believe we
have a clear and simple option that can support
the basis of their existing work going forward here
in 2005.  But maybe that's the whole point - to
make IPR the norm, not the exception, and thus
fundamentally change the nature of "open
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2004 10:54 AM
Subject: RE: [chairs] Re-visiting IPR and OASIS

I am surprised there is no mention of the FTC proposals for reforming the US patent system, which are intended to address some of the problems specifically mentioned in the paper.
-----Original Message-----
From: David RR Webber [mailto:david@drrw.info]
Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2004 2:22 PM
To: Chairs OASIS
Subject: [chairs] Re-visiting IPR and OASIS

The article here provides many insights and raises questions.
It would be interesting to have feedback from OASIS on exactly
how many of the issues raised are specifically addressed by
the proposed IPR changes for OASIS - as I'm sure as Chairs
we are going to get asked these same questions by our
Thanks, DW
The Problem of Software Patents in Standards
Bruce Perens, Paper for Brussels FFII "Regulating Knowledge" Conference

Patents, originally created to stimulate innovation, may now be having
the opposite effect, at least in the software industry. Plagued by an
exponential growth in software patents, many of which are not valid,
software vendors and developers must navigate a potential minefield to
avoid patent infringement and future lawsuits. Coupled with strategies
to exploit this confusion over patents, especially in standards setting
organizations, it appears that software advancement will become stifled
unless legal action is taken to resolve the situation. This article
examines the current situation facing software developers and users,
the methods employed by standards setting organizations to address
these problems, and recommends strategies for resolving the problem
caused by software patents.

See also the Conference Program:

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