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Subject: The PKCS11 TC IPR Mode

I had a conflicting call and I returned to find the IPR conversation ending.  (I had expected to miss it completely.)  It woke me up to a concern that had slipped below my attention.

I understand the problem with RF on RAND.  I am myself uncomfortable with it.

The strongest IPR mode on any TC I am on that produced any Standards Track Product during my membership is RF on Limited Terms.  At the time that I joined, the Non-Assertion IPR mode was unavailable.   

In the most prominent case where IPR was a factor, the primary contributor provided a non-assertion covenant that applies wherever there is reciprocity.  The other significant contributor also has an applicable public non-assertion covenant.  This created a de fact non-assertion situation, although a different contributor could end up imposing an RF on Limited Terms license requirement.  And, as Jamie Clark emphasized, no one is protected from non-contributing third parties.  (Even Standards Essential RAND promises are in a bit of a cloud these days.)

My preference in contributing on *new* TCs now is where the IPR mode is Non-Assertion.  For Non-Assertion there is no need for implementers to negotiate anything with the contributors to the specification.  There is also no concern about sublicensing from the contributors insofar as derivatives of the software implement the specification.  This is the most favorable to situations where open-source software and any derivatives of that software implement an OASIS specification.  In my contributions to standards, I want to encourage such opportunities.  (Note that, in the case of open-source software, there need not be any legal entity able to execute an appropriate license.)

This is the only TC where I'm an inaugural member of that does not operate under Non-Assertion IPR Mode.  

I am going to review how willing I am to put my energies into specification work that may lead to licensing burdens, even though under RF terms.  See, e.g., <https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/uoml-x/ipr.php>.

I am certain that the work to create OASIS PCKS11 specifications will move along just fine no matter what course I choose.  I look forward to the point where a PKCS11 Standards Track product reaches that point when contributor license requirements should have been declared and there can be confidence in what is required of any implementer of the specification.

 - Dennis

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