OASIS making it easier to use standards without fee worries

The Non-Assertion Covenant for technical committees will hold that participants writing a standard cannot demand royalties or exercise license rights against users or implementers of that standard

OASIS is making it easier to implement its standards without users having to toss and turn over whether somebody will demand a fee for using technologies leveraged in the standards.

The standards organization this week said its board of directors has approved a revision to its IPR (intellectual property rights) policy adding a "Non-Assertion Covenant," in which participants writing a standard cannot demand royalties or exercise license rights against users or implementers.

[ OASIS has dealt with royalty issues before: Back in 2003, it resolved an issue over whether royalties would be charged for use of BPEL, pertaining to Web services usage. ]

The revision will available to new technical committees as of August 4. Qualifying participants or contributors to standards development automatically make Non-Assertive Covenants when working in a technical committee operating under the new mode.

"The Non-Assertion mode offers a great alternative for developers who see it as a way to simplify their internal approval processes and for users who seek to eliminate the task of obtaining multiple permissions when implementing OASIS standards," said Eduardo Gutentag of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS board of directors, in a statement released by OASIS.

Since 2005, OASIS has required members to make participation and contributions available on specific licensing terms, with committees choosing an IPR mode to best meet needs. The non-assertion mode joins three other options including: RAND (Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory); Royalty-Free on RAND Terms, and Royalty-Free on Limited Terms.

Prior to the new policy, the lightest IPR mode offered by OASIS -- Royalty Free on Limited Terms -- still requires companies to declare that any patents they might have relating to the standard and grant permission to any implementers requesting it, OASIS representative Carol Geyer said. For some companies, running a patent inventory to determine if patents relate to a standards effort can be a complex and expensive task, she said.

With the Non-Assertion arrangement, companies do not need to make specific patent declarations. Companies may or may not have patents related to a standard, but they agree to not enforce them should they have any. This simplifies the process for developers and implementers, Geyer said.

Most OASIS committees operate under a royalty-free mode.

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