Home > Standards Blog

Advanced Search 

Welcome to ConsortiumInfo.org
Monday, July 06 2015 @ 02:07 AM CDT

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Patents and Patent Reform: An OFE Academy Fellow Interview

Intellectual property Rights

For some years now, I've been a Fellow of a European think tank called the OpenForum Academy, which focuses on all things open: open standards, open source, open data, open research, and so on. It's an affiliate of a non-profit called OpenForum Europe, which advocates for same causes bofore the legislature and agencies of the European Union and those of its constituent states. The EU Parliament as well as governemtal agencies and legislatures in the U.K. and elsewhere have been actively engaged on these topics, and have welcomed this input.

OFE Academy is made up principally of an invited group of academics, journalists, technical experts and others that are recognized for their leadership and expertise in the area of openness (you can find a list of them here). Recently, the Academy launched a Fellow interivew series, and this week the interviewee happens to be me. Below I've pasted in a few outtakes from the much longer interview, which you can find here.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Licensing Standards that Include Code: Heads or Tails?

Intellectual property Rights

Courtesy of Bitjungle/Wikimedia Commons -  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Egregious Nonsense Regarding eBook Standards

Intellectual property Rights

It takes something truly ridiculous to make me write an out and out rant. Still, every now and then I read something that I can’t avoid responding to, because of the degree to which it misrepresents reality in an area I both care about and am knowledgeable in. Yesterday I had that experience when I read an article contending that proprietary eBook formats are good rather than bad, and that while “someday” we may have a truly interoperable eBook format, for now we should just sit back and appreciate proprietary formats in this area.

What rubbish.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

S. Ct. Rules that a “Good-Faith Belief” is no Defense to Patent Infringement Liability

Intellectual property Rights

Courtesy of Matt Wade/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 UnportedMost engineers are aware that patent owners can sue those that infringe their patents. It may surprise them, however to know that a patent owner can also sue someone for only “inducing” another to infringe their patent. Luckily, in both cases, the patent owner only has a right to sue if the other party acted “knowingly.”

As you might expect, the circumstances and facts that are deemed to prove knowledge are the subject of much litigation and many legal opinions. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court added another decision to the pile, and a distinction that the court drew on this question may surprise you. It should also particularly concern open source software developers, for reasons I’ll return to below.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Patent Pledges and Open Source Software Development

Intellectual property Rights

For all its benefits, one aspect of open source software does cause headaches: understanding the legal terms that control its development and use. For starters, scores of licenses have been created that the Open Source Initiative recognizes as meeting the definition of an “open source license.” While the percentage of these licenses that are in wide use is small, there are significant and important differences between many of these popular licenses. Moreover, determining what rights are granted in some cases requires referring to what the community thinks they mean (rather than their actual text), and in others by the context in which the license is used.

Rather like interpreting the applicability of the U.S. Constitution to modern life, except that there is no Supreme Court available to call the coin toss when people disagree.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Dept. of Justice Blesses IEEE Rules on Injunctions and Reasonability

Intellectual property Rights

Following almost two years of debate, public posting of five drafts, and consideration of 680 comments, IEEE-SA preliminarily approved amendments to its Patent Policy to address these and other questions. IEEE-SA is the developer of the Wi-Fi standards (and thousands of other specifications). It is one of the major standards development venues in the information and communications technology industry, and thus a venue within which the question bears great weight. However, final approval of the amendments was made contingent upon receiving a favorable “Business Review” letter from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In a business review letter, the regulator responds to a detailed explanation and rationale for a proposed action, and indicates whether it would, or would not, be likely to challenge that action if implemented. In this case the DoJ expressed its belief that the proposed actions would be procompetitive rather than restricting competition, and that it would therefore not be inclined to challenge the final approval and implementation of the policy changes. That approval will occur later this month when the proposed policy updates are approved by the IEEE-SA Board of Directors.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Revisiting DRM: What about Books?

Intellectual property Rights

Capt. Henry Morgan, courtesy of the Wikimedia CommonsMention the letters "DRM" and you're likely to immediately evoke two opposing and emotional reactions. The battle lines have become so fixed, in fact that you almost don't hear those letters debated at all any more. That's also because the war has already been fought, and largely lost, when it comes to music.

But what about books, now that they've become digitized? Should the arguments, the answers, and the result (entrenched, opposing camps) be the same?

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

When FRAND meets FOSS: Bottom Up or Top Down?

Intellectual property Rights

Still looking for the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone? 

Problem solved!

Courtesy  	Yuval Y/Wikimedia Commons  GNU Free Documentation License, The U.S. may be the place where more emerging technologies bubble up than anywhere else, but when it comes to developing public policies to address new technologies, Europe continues to hold the lead. That reality was underlined recently with the release of a report summarizing the proceedings and conclusions of a European Commission (EC)/European Patent Office (EPO) workshop titled Implementing FRAND standards in Open Source: Business as usual or mission impossible?That workshop (on which more below) is only part of a larger series of efforts surrounding the ongoing evolution of the EU legal frameworkICT Standardization policy, and much more.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

WIPO Builds a FRAND Arbitration Business (but will they come?)

Intellectual property Rights

Bob Stein Field, courtesy of Zach J. Beavers/Wikimedia Commons - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.Ever since Apple set off the mobile platform wars by suing Samsung for what Steve Jobs believed were egregious borrowings of patented Apple smartphone innovations, the courts have been busy processing the disputes.  One of the most effective weapons the combatants made use of has been the so-called “standards essential patent” (SEP). And the armament of SEPS is very large, because each mobile device which implements many hundreds of standards. For example, if a company owns a SEP necessary to include a camera, wireless function or other key feature, the owner of the SEP can its price to license it, or even refuse to license it at all.

That is, of course, unless the SEP owner was part of the standards setting organization (SSO) that developed the standard in question, and had made a commitment to license that SEP on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Judge Chin Reimagines "Fair Use" for the Internet Age

Intellectual property Rights

Last week, Judge Denny Chin handed down the latest opinion in the now-eight year battle between Google and the Author’s Guild (among others) over Google’s massive book scanning project. If the Author’s Guild fails to overturn the Judge’s decision on appeal, it will mark an enormous watershed in the ability of Web site owners to display copyrighted works without the prior permission of the owners of those works.

At issue was the appropriate application of the “fair use” doctrine under U.S. law to the Google project, a rationale that allows certain types of copying to be permissible that would otherwise be actionable. As applied by Judge Chin, the scope of that doctrine has seemingly been expanded by orders of magnitude. Indeed, in the case at hand, the judge has broadened its scope so dramatically that it’s difficult not to conclude that he was struggling to find sufficient legal precedents to justify a favorable outcome for Google. Many will contend that he fell short in that effort, and that his intent was instead to rebalance, if not rewrite, the doctrine itself in order to bring it into the Internet age.