Why did perennial litigant Rambus, Inc. settle with the European Commission?
Certainly the most watched standards-related legal conflict of the decade involves the participation of memory technology vendor Rambus, Inc. in a working group hosted by standards developer Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) in the early 1990s. The fame (or notoriety) of the conflict arises in part from the importance of the conduct at issue (did Rambus set a "patent trap" for implementers of the standard that emerged from the working group?), and in part from the seemingly endless string of law suits that resulted from that conduct some fifteen years ago.
Most of these suits were brought by Rambus against vendors that refused to pay royalties when they implemented the standard, but these suits almost always resulted in vigorous counterclaims against Rambus, brought by those same implementers. And investigations into Rambus's conduct were also brought by both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, and by the European Commission in Europe. A separate string of cases related to alleged price fixing and other improper conduct by other vendors that participated in the same working group, which ended in record settlement amounts being paid by those vendors to the regulators.
If you haven't heard the words "smart grid" before, that's likely to change soon. That's especially so if you live in the U.S., where billions of dollars in incentive spending is pouring into making the smart grid a reality. As you might expect, since I'm talking about it here, the smart grid will rely on standards to become real. A whole lot of standards, in fact, and that's a problem
Those of you who are subscribers to my free standards eJournal Standards Today know that I've dedicated each of the last several issues to one of the many multi-billion dollar initiatives that the Obama Administration has launched that are heavily dependent on standards - which in many cases do not yet exist. Each initiative is also of great complexity, and will need to rely on a level of cooperation and collaboration that does not natively exist in the marketplace. That's certainly the case with the Smart Grid challenge, and that's what the latest issue of Standards Today is all about.
Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. electric power delivery infrastructure served our nation well,… This once state-of-the-art system brought a level of prosperity to the United States unmatched by any other nation in the world. But a 21st-century U.S. economy cannot be built on a 20th-century electric grid. A Vision for the Modern Grid, National Energy Technology Laboratory, for the DOE, March 2007
For decades utility companies and environmentalists alike have known that more dramatic and economical advances in energy policy could be achieved through energy conservation than by any other means. By utilizing techniques as simple as buying more efficient appliances and better insulating our homes we can lower our dependence on foreign oil, release fewer greenhouse gases, and savemoney as well, all at the same time. For almost as long, utilities have promoted the concept of “demand side management,” and sought to enlist the aid of consumers and businesses to shift electricity usage to low-demand times of the day, with the potential benefit of avoiding the need to build expensive new power plants.
I am an avid, lifelong, reader of newspapers in general, and of the New York Times in particular. And I'm a staunch believer in the essential role of an independent press in a modern democracy. I’m also the owner of a Web site that serves over a million page views a month, some of which display short extracts of news articles, with links back to the full text. On occasion those links lead back to stories appearing at the Web site of the Times.
So why am I trying to kill my beloved Times and its worthy brethren?
Before Linux.com went dark late last year, it was one of the most visited open source news aggregation and discussion sites. As you may recall, word got this March that the Linux Foundation had taken Linux.com over, and was committed to making it bigger, better and richer than before. Further to that goal, it set up "Ideaforge," to tap the developer and user communities to learn what they in an on-line resource to make the Linux ecosystem more successful and satisfying for all involved.
After months of effort behind the scenes, and some pretty impressive Web design, the Linux Foundation delivered on that promise last night. What you'll find there is something that's different from anything that's ever existed before - an interactive, growing, feature and content rich resource that can help you hone your skills, find a job, assemble a Linux-based system, and, of course, access the most up to date news, blogs and ideas about open source software in general, and Linux in particular. What it's all about can be summed up in just six words: For the community, by the community. And if you read this blog, that includes you.
It was an interesting trip, in all, providing a cascade of often starkly diverse images. How varied a range? On the natural grandeur list, I would add spectacular sunsets, wildernesses of soaring, broken redrock, and broad vistas of pristine desert.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum, I might begin with the sights that greeted me when I crossed the Colorado early in the trip, and threaded my way through the 27th Annual Laughlin River Run, a meet that draws over 40,000 leather-clad, mostly aging bikers to what Motorcycle-usa.com calls, “one of the more popular events on the West Coast rally scene, packing bikini contests, custom bike shows, demo rides, poker runs, freak shows and tattoo contests into four-days of 24/7 fun.” I can attest to the fact that it also packs in what is presumably one of the largest assemblages of multi-story, inflatable Jim Beam bottle and Budweiser can replicas to be found anywhere in one place.
The southwestern landscape hosts a variety of signature geologic forms, some of which have become iconic as the backdrops for countless western movies. If you should find yourself channel surfing late tonight, a single frame of a mesa, butte, spire or hoodoo will instantly lock you on to the genre, even before the dusty characters ride into view.
The desert rock garden is a less well known type, but it will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time knocking about the southwest, and around Arizona in particular. Unlike the angular, striated spires and hoodoos that erode out of sedimentary formations, rock gardens are more often volcanic in origin than not, usually granitic, and rounded in form, characteristically resembling enormous blowups of the sand dribbles that a child makes at the beach by allowing a slurry of water and sand to slip through her fingers.
Long-time readers will know that whenever I can, I disappear into the desert for as long as I can. Often, the opportunity arises to cadge a lift out west on the back of a business trip, and so it is that I write this in northwestern Arizona a couple days after spending a day in a conference room buried deep within the bowels of the raucus, random, blaring, unworldly nonsense that is otherwise known as the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Some of the nonsense worked to my favor, or at least amusement, as my $143.95 room was somehow traded up into a penthouse suite on the 62nd floor of the hotel – a suite that was bigger than the first floor of my admittedly small house, with 18 foot ceilings, a wall of glass behind motorized drapes, bar, living room, two bathrooms (one palatial), four flat screen TV sets (more than I have owned of any type in my entire life), and no coffee maker.
The service the lawyer renders is his professional knowledge and skill, but the commodity he sells is time — Reginald Heber Smith, inventor of the billable hour
Both reviled and ubiquitous, the billable hour is the roach of the legal world — Douglas McCollam, writing in the American Lawyer
Let's imagine that you would like to have your dilapidated, wood-sided house painted. The southern exposure is peeling, the soffits sport dark Rorschach patterns of mildew, and more than a few window sills have that uncomfortably punky feel to the touch that whispers "we're rotting — you must help us." You know that you can't put off facing the music any longer, and hope that the impact on your wallet will be no more painful than absolutely necessary.
So you do what any rational homeowner would — you get some referrals from people you trust, call the folks they recommend, and tell each of them that you'll be soliciting several bids. While you're at it, you also call the painter who, as luck would have it, had dropped a flyer in your mailbox that very afternoon.
Over the next week each housepainter stops by after work, walks around your house, scribbles a few notes, and promises to get back to you with a quote. Within a week, most of them actually do. Like any homeowner would, you select the cheapest, failing to note that it came from the painter you found through the flyer. Soon, the job is done, and he drops by to collect the agreed upon amount. Pleased, you pay him on the spot.
What a nice, logical system, especially for the buyer. You know just what you'll have to pay before you commit to pay it, and gain the benefit of competitive bidding as well. You'd be crazy to take on such a large financial commitment any other way, wouldn't you?
Any old standards hand forced to choose the single most disputed issue in standard setting over the past decade would likely respond with a deceivingly simple question: "What does it mean to be an 'open standard?'" A similar debate rages in the open source community between those that believe that some licenses (e.g., the BSD, MIT and Apache licenses) are "open enough," while others would respond with an emphatic Hell No! (or less printable words to similar effect).
That's not too surprising, because the question of what "open" means subsumes almost every other categorical question that information and communications technology (ICT) standards and open source folk are likely to disagree over, whether they be economic (should a vendor be able to be implement a standard free of charge, or in free and open source software (FOSS) licensed under a version of the General Public License (GPL)); systemic (are standards adopted by ISO/IEC JTC 1 "better" than those that are not); or procedural (must the economic and other terms upon which a necessary patent claim can be licensed be disclosed early in the development process)?
The reason why this background level of disagreement is relevant today is because the Obama Administration has pledged to use technology to bring an "unprecedented" level of transparency and interaction in governmentto the people. If that's going to happen, though, it means that the platforms that the new administration adopts to provide open government will have to be open as well. Which brings us at last to the question of just what, exactly, "open" should mean, when it comes to "open government."
Quote of the Day
“[D]o you want to [hand] a 500-page specification...to a light bulb manufacturer, or do you want source code that you can hand to that manufacturer that enables interoperability?”
-Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin on why open source software is replacing open standards
W3C Declares HTML5 Standard Complete Frederic Lardinois TechCrunch October 30, 2014 - More than four years ago, Steve Jobs declared war on Flash and heralded HTML5 as the way to go. You could be forgiven if you thought the HTML5 standard — the follow-up to 1997’s HTML 4 — has long been set in stone, given that developers, browser vendors and the press have been talking about it for years now. In reality, however, HTML5 was still in flux — until today. The W3C today published its Recommendation of HTML5 — the final version of the standard after years of adding features and making changes to it....the W3C today notes in its press release that the next version of the standard needs to focus on a number of core “application foundations” like tools for security and privacy, device interactions, application lifecycle, media and real-time communications and services around the social web, payments and annotations. All of these are meant to make it easier for developers to support the web platform.... ...Full Story
Alliance to Promote Multi-Gigabit Ethernet Technology for Enterprise Wired and Wireless Access Networks Press Release NBASE-T Alliance October 30, 2014 - Cisco, Aquantia, Freescale and Xilinx today announced that they have formed the NBASE-T Alliance, an industry-wide cooperative effort to promote the development of 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet (2.5GE and 5GE) technology for enterprise network infrastructure. The objective of the nonprofit organization is to advance multi-gigabit Ethernet technology that enables faster data rates on existing enterprise cabling originally designed for 1 Gigabit Ethernet (1GbE) technology....Early promoters Cisco, Aquantia, Freescale and Xilinx welcome interested parties to join the alliance and contribute to its objectives. More details can be found on the alliance website, at www.nbaset.org.
According to Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), total mobile data traffic will surpass 30 Exabytes per month in 2018. An estimated 52 percent of that traffic will be offloaded from cellular networks to the fixed network through WiFi, adding to the vast amount of wireless data transmitted over WLAN in enterprise branch and campus networks. The 802.11ac WiFi standard was developed to deal with this massive amount of wireless data. As the Wave 2 of the technology gets introduced, traffic aggregated on APs will quickly surpass multiple gigabits per second, and therefore require both the access point and the Ethernet Switch ports to scale beyond the 1GbE used in most networks....In most enterprise campus networks around the world, Category 5e (Cat5e) and Category 6 (Cat6) twisted-pair copper cables are the most common deployed. These cables do not support 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) up to 100 meters, therefore the need for intermediate rates between 1 and 10 Gigabit has gained support throughout the industry. To advance the enormous potential for rates greater than 1GbE on legacy cabling, the NBASE-T Alliance founding companies teamed up to promote the development of 2.5GbE and 5GbE that will extend the life of the installed cable plant.... ...Full Story
NIF observatory: interoperability platforms boost data exchange, eServices and eSignature EC Joinup October 29, 0214 - The National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO) community is making available an updated series of NIFO factsheets. The updates track interoperability initiatives in European countries.
Recently published on the Joinup platform, the updated NIFO factsheets provide new information on interoperability for over half of the countries. The update replaces factsheets from May this year. The observatory identified new interoperability platforms in many fields, including data exchange, eServices and eSignature.... ...Full Story
Take Control With Open Source Hardware Carla Schroder Linux.com October 29, 0214 - Free and open source software are no good without open hardware. If we can't install our software on a piece of hardware, it's not good for anything. Truly open hardware is fully-programmable and replicable. So what is open hardware, exactly? OSHWA, the Open Source Hardware Association, defines it as:
"Open source hardware is hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design. The hardware's source, the design from which it is made, is available in the preferred format for making modifications to it. Ideally, open source hardware uses readily-available components and materials, standard processes, open infrastructure, unrestricted content, and open-source design tools to maximize the ability of individuals to make and use hardware. Open source hardware gives people the freedom to control their technology while sharing knowledge and encouraging commerce through the open exchange of designs."... ...Full Story
NISO Launches Open Discovery Initiative (ODI) Standing Committee NISO October 28, 0214 - The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) is pleased to announce the next phase for the Open Discovery Initiative, a project that explores community interactions in the realm of indexed discovery services. Following the working group’s recommendation to create an ongoing standing committee as outlined in the published recommended practice, Open Discovery Initiative: Promoting Transparency in Discovery (NISO RP-19-2014), NISO has formed a new standing committee reflecting a balance of stakeholders, with member representation from content providers, discovery providers, and libraries. The ODI Standing Committee will promote education about adoption of the ODI Recommended Practice, provide support for content providers and discovery providers during adoption, conduct a forum for ongoing discussion related to all aspects of discovery platforms for all stakeholders, and determine timing for additional actions that were outlined in the recommended practice.... ...Full Story
How a USB key drive could remove the hassles from two-factor authentication Tony Bradley PC World October 28, 0214 - We've had enough malware campaigns and data breaches to confirm the need for better data protection online. The Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) standard is a step in the right direction, and the first compatible devices are coming out now.
U2F is an open authentication standard. It was initially developed by Google, but it's now managed by the FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance....Two-factor, or multi-factor authentication has long been promoted as a more effective security mechanism, but it's a hassle, requiring you to juggle passwords with a second factor such as a texted code or an authentication app. U2F proposes to streamline the process using a U2F-enabled USB or NFC key fob, card, or mobile device alongside traditional authentication methods.... ...Full Story
The Future of the Internet - 20 Years Ago The birth of Netscape and its browser Glyn Moody ComputerWorld.uk October 27, 0214 - By Glyn Moody | Published 15:15, 20 October 14
Facebook 3 Twitter 34 LinkedIn 0 Google Plus 2 Share This 75 Article comments
Last week, the following tweet appeared:
Netscape Navigator was released 20 years ago [last week]...The fall of Netscape was not entirely down to Microsoft's aggressive moves. Netscape made a number of serious missteps, and the quality of the Netscape Navigator code started deteriorating. Eventually, that led to most of the Netscape program being released as open source, and the creation of the Mozilla project - something I wrote about in detail in an Open Enterprise column published seven years ago.
But here, I'd like to dwell on that moment in October 1994 when the first beta version of Netscape Navigator was released, and many of us sensed that this was the start of a new era in computing. Below is a column I wrote at that time, exactly as it first appeared; I hope it conveys a little of the atmosphere of those heady times.... ...Full Story
NIST's Cloud Computing Roadmap Details Research Requirements and Action Plans NIST Techbeat October 27, 0214 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published the final version of the US Government Cloud Computing Technology Roadmap, Volumes I and II. The roadmap focuses on strategic and tactical objectives to support the federal government’s accelerated adoption of cloud computing. This final document reflects the input from more than 200 comments on the initial draft received from around the world.
The roadmap leverages the strengths and resources of government, industry, academia and standards development organizations to support technology innovation in cloud computing.
The first volume, High-Priority Requirements to Further USG Agency Cloud Computing Adoption, describes the roadmap’s purpose and scope....The second volume, Useful Information for Cloud Adopters, introduces a conceptual model, the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture and Taxonomy and presents U.S. government cloud target business and technical use cases.... ...Full Story
ITU Plenipotentiary Conference elects Houlin Zhao as next Secretary-General ITU.org October 24, 0214 - The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference roundly endorsed Houlin Zhao of China as its next Secretary-General. Zhao will take office on 1 January 2015 for a term of four years, with the possibility of re-election for one additional four-year term.
The election took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, during the Plenary session of the PP-14 conference this morning. Zhao won the position with 152 votes, with 156 countries present and voting. He contested the position unopposed. Full election results are available here.
Addressing the conference after the vote, Zhao told some 2,000 conference participants from around the world that he would do his best to “fulfil ITU's mission, and, through our close cooperation, ensure ITU delivers services to the global telecommunication and information society at the highest level of excellence."... ...Full Story
Who Open Source is Replacing Open Standards Glyn Moody ComputerWorld.uk October 23, 0214 - ...Here's [Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim] Zemlin's perspective on why the Foundation is becoming involved in so many collaborative industry projects:
"Companies are now as the norm using open source to shed comunity R&D, to do collective innovation, particularly at the infrastructure layer, for almost every aspect of technology, not just Linux - SDN, IOT, network functions virtualisation, cloud computing, etc. What you have seen as a result is this proliferation of organisations who facilitate that development, on a very large professional scale. That's a permanent fixture of how the tech sector operates. We launch a new one of these about every 3 months. Next year we'll have many many more of these type of projects....The largest form of collaboration in the tech industry for 20 years was at standards development organisations - IEEE, ISO, W3C, these things - where in order for companies to interoperate, which was a requirement in tech, they would create a specification, and everyone would implement that. The tech sector is moving on to a world where, in the Internet of things [for example], do you want to have a 500-page specification that you hand to a light bulb manufacturer, or do you want source code that you can hand to that manufacturer that enables interoperability? I think that's a permanent fixture. People have figured out for a particular non-differentiating infrastucture they want to work on that through open source, rather than creating a spec."... ...Full Story