IETF patent policy

On Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 7:07 PM, Robert Sayre <> wrote:

> At least, that's supposedly one of the good parts of the IETF. The
> main bad part is an amoral attitude regarding software patents, to the
> point that some Areas operate on the assumption that every participant
> has cross-licensed everyone else's patents, so that the industry
> status quo is preserved. In the Applications Area, I think an upfront
> royalty-free policy should be required (I would be surprised to find
> my employer, Mozilla Corporation, disagreeing).

I have looked into this (well before this message and talked to may
people) and can't see a way to have such a policy in the Applications
Area. Certainly such a policy shouldn't be unilaterally enforced by
Area Directors, and the IETF consensus process doesn't really have any
levels other than Working Group or IETF wide.  As we've discussed, an
up-front royalty-free policy can be agreed on in any WG at any time by
WG consensus, and most WGs end up with a after-the-fact royalty-free
policy if the issue ever comes up.

In looking into this, I found that even with such a policy, another
problem that's subtle  (not just in IETF but true in many
organizations) is dealing with licenses which are not boilerplate.
Unfortunately when IPR holders file an IETF disclosure (see they don't tend to
choose the boilerplate options because none of the boilerplate options
offers a reciprocity clause.  I haven't been able to make progress on
this because I've been unemployed for 3 months and that tends to mean
poor access to lawyers.

I would be happy to have community help with this effort.


Received on Friday, 25 September 2009 10:09:29 UTC