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Part 1, IBM, Microsoft Plot Net Takeover Via WSDL/XML/UDDI

From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@realmeasures.dyndns.org>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 2002 15:23:06 -0400
Message-ID: <3CB8859A.3546C0C3@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

By David Berlind
April 11, 2002 

IBM and Microsoft have been quietly busy behind the scenes
for the last two years building a toll booth that could
position the two companies to collect royalties on most if
not all Internet traffic. 

While the technologies that form the foundation of that toll
booth have yet to be officially recognized as standards by
an independent standards body, the collective strength of
IBM and Microsoft could be enough to render Internet
standards consortia powerless to stop them. 

The potential for the two giants to erect a toll booth is
tied to the likelihood that Web services protocols such as
SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI--and the related ones to which the two
companies hold patents or other intellectual property
rights--will one day be as important as the standard
protocols (such as TCP/IP and HTTP) on which the Internet is
based today. Web services and the protocols that make them
possible are destined to play a major role in most if not
all electronic commerce as well as other Internet traffic. 

If the protocols do become standards, either by virtue of an
independent standards organization's imprimatur or by
attaining a de facto status, IBM and Microsoft--or any other
company that maintains the intellectual property rights to
them--could legally impose royalties on that traffic. In
fact, any protocols that become a part of the core Internet
infrastructure without having been made available on a
royalty-free basis could guarantee the owners of the
intellectual property the right to place a tax on the
Internet traffic that depends on those protocols. 

No standard policy

For the most part, standards-setting for the Internet and
Web has taken place within the working groups of two
organizations: the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Until recently,
neither organization had maintained a policy requiring
vendors to make the intellectual property (IP) they
contribute to the standards setting process available on a
royalty-free basis. According to W3C Patent Policy Working
Group Chairman Danny Weitzner, "Despite the lack of a
policy, there has always been an understanding amongst the
various contributors that the Internet and the Web wouldn't
be possible or scalable unless their contributions were
available to everyone on a royalty-free basis." 

But that gentleman's agreement has been tested several times
over the years and it could end up being tested again by
Microsoft and IBM. According to documents on the W3C's Web
site, IBM and Microsoft not only own intellectual property
within specific Web services protocols, but also have no
intentions of relinquishing their IP rights to those
protocols should they become standards. The documents
indicate that the two companies are currently maintaining
their rights to pursue a reasonable and non-discriminatory
(RAND) licensing framework as opposed to a
royalty-free-based framework. The RAND framework is widely
acknowledged as the one that keeps a vendor's options open
in terms of being able to charge content developers and
Internet users a royalty for usage of relevant intellectual
Received on Saturday, 13 April 2002 15:57:36 UTC

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