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Part 2, IBM, Microsoft Plot Net Takeover Via WSDL/XML/UDDI

From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@realmeasures.dyndns.org>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 15:23:01 -0400
Message-ID: <3CB88595.D1A23DF1@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
To: C-FIT_Community@realmeasures.dyndns.org, C-FIT_Release_Community@realmeasures.dyndns.org, fairuse-discuss@mrbrklyn.com, patents@aful.org
CC: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org, usenet@consulting.net.nz


IBM, Microsoft plot Net takeover:

HP withdraws support

By David Berlind
April 11, 2002 

Against the backdrop of the W3C's emerging plan to adopt a
primarily royalty-free-based patent policy, the royalty-free
vs. RAND controversy reached full boil last October when
Hewlett-Packard withdrew its support as a sponsor of IBM and
Microsoft's W3C WSDL submission on the basis that WSDL might
not be royalty-free. According to a statement by HP's
director of standards and industry initiatives and W3C
advisory committee representative Jim Bell, "HP resigned as
a co-submitter of the otherwise excellent Web Services
Description Language (WSDL) proposal to W3C solely because
other authors refused to let that proposal be royalty free." 

According to the W3C's Weitzner, "the Internet community,
which includes developers and users, has voiced their
opposition and the W3C is responding with a policy that
enforces a royalty-free framework in all situations with few
exceptions, and Web services isn't one of them." 

While that policy is still in draft form, certain W3C
documents are beginning to indicate the organization's
adoption of that position. For example, the W3C's XML
Protocol Working Group Charter contains the following text
in its intellectual property section: "Any intellectual
property essential to implement specifications produced by
this Activity must be at least available for licensing on a
royalty-free basis." 

In its coverage of the controversy, Linux Today's version of
Bell's statement includes a statement from W3C director Tim
Berners-Lee declaring Web services protocols like WSDL to be
common infrastructure protocols to which the royalty-free
licensing framework should apply. 

Weitzner also acknowledges that, in addition to HP, Apple
and Sun are wholeheartedly behind the royalty-free movement
too. According to Sun's Manager of XML Industry Initiatives
Simon Nicholson, "Anyone should be able to use the
specifications that define the Internet infrastructure
without charge. We believe the best route to ensuring this
is that such specs be licensed under royalty free terms."
Sun backed that position up when it relinquished a set of IP
rights it had--a move that cleared the way for the
royalty-free use of the W3C standard for Xlink. 

IBM: patent defense IBM and Microsoft, however, appear to be
digging in their heels with respect to the contributions
they have been making to the standards process. In a
document filed with the W3C, IBM opposed the move to a
royalty-free-only framework partially on the basis that
companies must be allowed to maintain their patents in order
to defend themselves against potential patent infringement
suits by other companies. 

Nevertheless, the mounting pressure over the WSDL protocol
apparently worked. When asked if IBM planned to make its
contributions to the various Web services protocols
available on a royalty-free-basis, IBM's Director for
eBusiness Standards Strategy Bob Sutor said, "The one I can
respond to is WSDL itself. That is a royalty-free working
group and we are the editor of that spec. I would like to
leave it at that." To no avail, several attempts were made
to get official comment from Microsoft as to whether the
company would make all of its contributions available on a
royalty-free basis. 

Official documents on the W3C's site support Sutor's
assertion. According to the home page of the W3C's Web
Services Description Working Group, neither IBM nor
Microsoft are asserting their intellectual property claims
over WSDL. The same can also be said for SOAP 1.2, which
falls under the jurisdiction of the royalty-free charter of
the W3C's XML Protocol Working Group. Additionally, HP's
status as a co-submitter of WSDL has been restored. 

However, the same cannot be said for many of the other Web
services protocols that actually make SOAP and WSDL useful.
For example, IBM and Microsoft have yet to release their
intellectual property rights to two SOAP extensions: one
extension encrypts and applies digital signatures to SOAP
messages, another attaches documents to the messages.
According to the current W3C document for SOAP's attachment
specification, both IBM and Microsoft are keeping their RAND
options open. Declarations from both companies go so far as
to say that they will apply the RAND-licensing framework
even if the contribution is adopted as a standard. The
declarations on the corresponding document for digital
signatures are virtually the same.
Received on Saturday, 13 April 2002 15:34:30 UTC

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