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Subject: Use of contributed IPR in conducting tests of partial and draft specifications

    This follows up on my 10 November message to this list, and the conversation we had at the last wsbpel-implementation subcommittee meeting regarding the possible need for licenses in connection with "testbed" plugfests prior to a specification's approval.  Several members asked whether the OASIS IPR policy applies equally to, or works differently for, interim interoperability tests conducted as an official but informal TC activity.

    Please note that each OASIS member is responsible for their own compliance with, and interpretations of, our rules, so we cannot provide advice that replaces your need to consult with your own experts.  The definitive answers to these questions can be found only in the text of our posted rules.  In case it's helpful, though, here is my understanding of the pertinent general issues. 

    Our current policy does not distinguish between 'testbed' implementations and other uses of IP contributed to an OASIS Technical Committee.  As a result, the usual rules apply, e.g.,
    --  Members may have claims against the work being incorporated into a specification, and are encouraged to disclose them, in which case those disclosures are posted to the TC's IPR notices page.
    -- Contributors are encouraged to offer licenses permitting the use of those contributions, but are permitted to set their own "reasonable and nondiscriminatory" conditions and restrictions (which also are posted to that notice page).
    -- Users must evaluate the license offers that are made, and satisfy themselves that they have acquired sufficient permission for their planned implementation or derivation.  Those determinations are to be made by each user.

    I note that the majority of WSBPEL TC contributors already have provided names and contact information for licensing permission, in their postings to the TC's IPR notices page (www.oasis-open.org/committees/wsbel/ipr.php).   I'd assume that they would be willing to provide adequate assurances for testing activities they support.  I suggest that prospective test participants contact them, if concerned about a licensing gap for permission to build a test client.  At this stage, as I read it, they're free to provide licenses or not, and members are free to decide whether to participate or not.  Of course, those decisions may affect adoption of the work.

    OASIS TC members are free to express their opinions about whether any given work has sufficiently broad and available licensure to permit widespread implementation.  Any member may choose to adopt a position regarding any of our standards or drafts, or any element of them, including voting against it, or conditioning its support on satisfactory license availability.  (And it does happen;  I was involved in some of those issues when I was a TC participant myself, before joining the OASIS staff.)   OASIS' role is to provide an open forum for this, and to encourage communication about wider availability.  Ultimately, though, the "market demand" for adequately-available IPR terms comes from developers and users, and is expressed by their decisions to accept or reject conditions, and to adopt or decline to use the work.   
    Our industry is in transition.  Complex patent and competition issues affect standards development with an intensity that did not exist five years ago.  Purely as a  personal observation, I think we're in an experimental phase, and it's still too early to judge how readily developers and end-users will adopt standards that embed substantial license restrictions.  We should learn much about this in the next year.  I can't dismiss the possibility that some continuing license conditions will be acceptable.  Look at SOAP, a success by anyone's measure, but the subject of multiple proprietary claims through most of its development.  The positions that OASIS members take regarding what kinds of licenses are appropriate, or necessary, are essential input into this important, developing issue.  

    Regards  Jamie

~   James Bryce Clark
~   Manager Tech Stds Dev, OASIS
~   +1 978 667 5115 x 203 central office
~   +1 310 293 6739 direct

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