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Tuesday, May 03 2016 @ 01:55 AM CDT
Friday, February 19 2010 @ 09:45 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Have you discovered the Alexandria Project?
A long running case of great significance to the legal underpinnings of free and open source/open source software (F/OSS) has just settled on terms favorable to the F/OSS developer. The settlement follows a recent ruling by a U.S. Federal District Court judge that affirmed several key rights of F/OSS developers under existing law.
That case is Jacobsen v. Katzer, and the settlement documents were filed in court just after 9:00 AM this morning. Links to each of them can be found later in this blog entry. The brief background of the case, the legal issues at stake, and the settlement details are as follows.
Sunday, January 10 2010 @ 01:54 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Think of the words "standards war," and unless you're a standards wonk like m...oh, never mind...you're likely to think of the battle between the Betamax and VHS video tape formats. That's because videos are consumer products that just about everyone uses, and therefore the bloodshed in that standards war was not only shed in public view, but the some of the blood that was shed was shed by the public (i.e., those that bought video players supporting Betamax, the losing, but arguably superior, format). Fast forward (pun intended) to the present, and the trademarks "HD DVD and "Blu-ray" may ring a bell - and that's no coincidence.
Why? Because different industries have different business models and strategies that involve standards, and these often perpetuate over time - decades, in this case. In the case of the consumer electronics sector, that culture has too often been one of a patent-based, winner take all effort to cash in big time while your competitors take it on the chin. And it's not just media formats, either. As I noted in a blog entry a few weeks ago, we're seeing the same type of behavior in eBook readers. Since there's only one market, and the market demands one format to win in the end, that means that the camp that owns the bundle of patents underlying the winning format standard wins a bonanza.
Why? because the losers must pay through the nose for the license rights to build the players that implement the format standard that wins. The winners, on the other time win twice: once, by receiving the royalties, and again, because their own players have a lower cost to produce, because they don't have to pay royalties to themselves.
So guess what? Here we go again, but with a bit of a twist this time.
Wednesday, December 23 2009 @ 07:51 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Yesterday a very small company won a very big victory against a very large software vendor. The small company is i4i, a Canadian company that claimed that the large company had not infringed its patent accidentally, but knowingly and willfully, after engaging in discussions relating to the very same technology in question. For the small company, the functionality in question represented its main product, so when the big company bundled the same technology for free in its own product, i4i's business was gutted. If you've been following the story already, you know that the big company is Microsoft.
Yesterday's big victory was the affirmation by an appellate court of the trial court's finding of willful infringement. Under the ruling on appeal, Microsoft had been required to remove its infringing code within 60 days, and also pay i4i $290 million in damages due to the lost sales and other harm it had caused. Here are my thoughts on what just happened, and what's likely to happen next.
Wednesday, November 25 2009 @ 10:00 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
According to Reuters, one more thread in the long-running saga of Rambus and the JEDEC SDRAM standards abuse saga appears to be reaching an end. Specifically, the wire service reports:
European regulators are set to accept a proposal by Rambus Inc to cut royalties to settle antitrust charges, according to a person familiar with the situation,... Under the terms of the settlement,...Rambus will not be fined and will not be found liable for any wrongdoing, the source said....Rambus will also offer some of its older products for free as part of the settlement.
The story goes on to state that the regulators are expected to announce next Wednesday that they will accept without change the terms offered last June by Rambus. If this is confirmed, Rambus will agree to cap its royalties at 1.5 percent to 2.65 percent per unit for identified types of SDR memory controllers and memory types for five years, beginning in 2010.
If the settlement is announced as anticipated, U.S. regulators may wonder whether their brethren across the pond are better poker players than they are.
Monday, June 22 2009 @ 04:30 AM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
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.
Friday, March 20 2009 @ 05:32 AM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
It would be an understatement to observe that Microsoft's patent suit against Dutch GPS vendor company TomTom has been closely watched. Why? Because Microsoft alleges that several of the patents at issue are infringed by TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. In this first month of the dispute, the most urgent question has been this: will TomTom fight or fold? Now we have the answer: TomTom has decided to fight - and perhaps fight hard. Yesterday, it brought its own suit against Microsoft in a Virginia court, alleging that Microsoft is guilty of infringing several of TomTom's own patents.
The question that many Linux supporters are now asking is this: is this good news for Linux, or bad? Here are my thoughts on that important question.
Thursday, February 26 2009 @ 06:28 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Updated 3:30 PM: Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation has just posted a statement, which you can find at the end of this blog entry. In addition, Dow Jones reports that "TomTom spokesperson Taco Titulare told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday that TomTom rejects the Microsoft claims and that the firm will "vigorous defend" itself, without elaborating."
I first learned of Microsoft bringing suit against in-car navigation company TomTom NV when I got an email from a journalist asking for comment. He in turn, had gotten the news from Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog. Why all the buzz? Because apparently several of the patent claims relate to TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel - and while Microsoft has made noises publicly and threats privately for years alleging that Linux infringes multiple Microsoft patents, it has never actually brought a suit against a Linux implementer specifically alleging infringement by the Linux portion of their product.
The result is that across the industry, everyone is asking the same question: What Does it All Mean? For what it's worth, here's my take.
Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 07:04 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Yesterday I filed a pro bono amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Federal Trade Commission's petition for writ of certiorari in its suit against Rambus Technologies. I'm pleased to report that 19 standard setting organizations (SSOs), representing over 13,300 members, joined as amici curiae supporting this brief; the list of participants appears later in this blog entry. As noted in the brief itself, these SSOs:
...represent a broad range of SSOs that participate in the standard setting process, and each is greatly concerned by the adverse effects that it anticipates will result from the [lower court reversal of the FTC's sanctions of Rambus]. Those effects will reach virtually all aspects of modern society, commerce, education and government, because all of these interests rely heavily upon the efficient development and broad adoption of standards by the private sector.
The pervasiveness of standards, and of the potential reach of the decision on petition, is indicated by the range of focus of the amici curiae that have joined in this brief. They include SSOs that develop standards or support standards development in sectors as diverse as defense, consumer electronics, photography, on-line learning, geospatial information, credit “smart" cards and a broad array of computer system products and services.
In agreeing to be parties to the brief, these organizations demonstrated their concern over maintaining the integrity of the standards development process, as well as their belief that SSOs, their members, and non-members alike must be able to rely upon the support of the courts when they believe that SSO intellectual property rights (IPR) policies have been violated. (I outlined the facts and disputes underlying the Rambus case in this blog entry ten days ago.)
Monday, December 15 2008 @ 12:01 AM CST
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Long time readers will recall that perhaps the most high-profile (and high emotion) legal dispute involving standards revolves around the conduct of a memory design company called Rambus Incorporated. The emotion arises in part because Rambus develops and licenses technology, but does not actually fabricate semiconductors. This has made its stockholders particularly partisan, as its stock has risen and fallen in synchrony with its fortunes in court, and its detractors particularly irate, because they view Rambus not only as a patent troll, but also as one that has gamed the standards development process during the creation of a universally adopted SDRAM memory standard. Hundreds of millions, and perhaps billions, of dollars of royalties are at stake.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one of those that thinks that Rambus gamed the system and deceived the marketplace, and I'm another. That's why the FTC is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision and reinstate the FTC's conviction of Rambus, and why I'm filing another in a series of "friend of the court" briefs in support of that goal.
Wednesday, August 13 2008 @ 02:33 PM CDT
Contributed by: Andy Updegrove
Today those who believe in free content and free and open source software won a major victory in court, as reported by Larry Lessig, Mark Radcliffe, and Pamela Jones, among others. The underlying facts, and the legal counsel involved, were hardly major figures on the commercial landscape: the open source software at issue - the JAVA Model Railroad Interface - had been developed by the plaintiff, Robert Jacobsen, for model train buffs under an infrequently used free and open source license, and the attorney representing the plaintiff - a solo practicioner in Maryland - was young and inexperienced. But as often happens, a small case between small parties can have huge implications. And decisions that may make good strategic sense to the parties can also have disastrous consequences for those that are not in the same situation.
The case in question is called Jacobsen v. Katzer, and you can read the opinion here (a brief summary of the facts and proceedings to date is here). It's been going on for quite awhile, and a lot of people have spent a lot of time behind the scenes helping make sure that it came out the right way. That said, it hasn't received a lot of attention outside of FOSS legal circles, so for those of you who haven't heard of it before, I'll try to distill briefly why this decision is so important, and why people are so pleased with today's decision.
Quote of the Day
“A difficult issue that needs to be solved
-Ian Skerrett, VP of Marketing and Ecosystem at the Eclipse Foundation, commenting on the challenge of making the IoT secure See all Quotes
Latest NewsLet's Encrypt Reaches 2,000,000 CertificatesSeth SchoenElectronic Frontier Foundation
May 3, 2016 - The Let's Encrypt certificate authority issued its two millionth certificate on Thursday, less than two months after the millionth certificate....each certificate can cover several web sites, so the certificates Let's Encrypt has issued are already protecting millions and millions of sites.
This rapid adoption has made Let's Encrypt one of the world's largest public certificate authorities by number of certificates issued, and almost all of them are protecting domains that never supported HTTPS before. The Internet needs to migrate away from the insecure HTTP protocol, and we're very pleased to be helping to make that possible....EFF co-founded the Let's Encrypt CA with Mozilla and researchers from the University of Michigan. Akamai and Cisco joined the project as founding sponsors, and many other organizations have stepped up to sponsor the project since launch.... ...Full Story
Web Storage (Second Edition) is a W3C Recommendation
W3C.org May 2, 2016 - The Web Platform Working Group has published a W3C Recommendation of "Web Storage (Second Edition)." This specification defines an API for persistent data storage of key-value pair data in Web clients. It introduces two related mechanisms, similar to HTTP session cookies, for storing name-value pairs on the client side. The first mechanism is designed for scenarios where the user is carrying out a single transaction, but could be carrying out multiple transactions in different windows at the same time. The second mechanism is designed for storage that spans multiple windows, and lasts beyond the current session.... ...Full Story
Survey Highlights Security Concern Among IoT Developers
Programmable Web April 29, 2016 - According to the second annual IoT Developer Survey, security is the top concern of IoT developers. The survey, which polled 528 IoT developers, was conducted by the Eclipse IoT Working Group in partnership with the IEEE IoT and the AGILE-IoT research project.
Of developers working in organizations that have deployed IoT solutions, nearly half (48.3%) identified security as their leading concern. In the same group of respondents, interoperability and performance were the second and third biggest concerns, with 31.9% and 21%, respectively....
Not only can vulnerabilities in IoT applications be the source of privacy breaches, as the IoT extends its reach to things like cars, security vulnerabilities could theoretically put lives in danger....In this year's IoT Developer Survey, nearly half (46%) of those polled indicated that their company is developing and deploying IoT solutions, and 29% indicated that their company plans to within the next 18 months, suggesting that adoption of IoT technologies is accelerating.... ...Full Story
The advantages of open source in Internet of Things design
DesignWorldOnline April 28, 2016 - The Internet of Things is booming and with millions of devices to be connected over the coming years, many developers are focusing on the IoT opportunity....There are many commonalities between IoT solutions across different applications—the need for wireless connections, communication between devices and back-end systems, and data collection/interpretation are a few examples. But the proliferation of proprietary systems that are often in silos makes developing and building these solutions more complex and time consuming than needed. In a fast-moving, fragmented industry, open source technologies will play an increasingly fundamental role in mitigating these challenges and enabling seamless systems to further fuel innovation.
One way to circumvent the interoperability challenge is by establishing and using standards. Thoughtful and collaborative standardization improves choice and flexibility. As a result, developers can use devices from multiple vendors to build a solution that is innovative and meets their specific needs. We’ve outlined a few key channels that are essential to unlocking the potential of open source in IoT development.
Standards are necessary across the whole ecosystem and are being addressed by the industry in multiple ways. For example, industry standards organizations, like oneM2M (a consortium of industry stakeholders), has developed technical specifications to address the need for a common M2M Service Layer that can be embedded within various hardware and software and relied on to connect a wide range of devices to M2M application servers.
Another complementary approach to standards development is the release of designs and specifications into the open source community as open hardware and interface standards for others to adopt. Examples include Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Beaglebone, which enable quick prototyping, as well as the mangOH open hardware reference design, an open source design that is more easily scalable in commercial settings and is built specifically for IoT cellular connectivity.
Open source platforms like these enable developers that may have limited hardware, wireless or low-level software expertise to start developing IoT applications in days—rather than months. If executed properly, these can significantly reduce the time and effort to get prototypes from paper to production by ensuring that various connectors and sensors work together automatically with no additional coding required. With industrial-grade specifications, these next-generation platforms not only allow quick prototyping, but also rapid industrialization of IoT applications.
On the software side, using widely supported open source software application frameworks and development environments, such as Linux—itself an open source solution—can be extremely helpful by providing developers the head start that is required to get a product to market faster. When it comes to proprietary solutions, support for its development framework tends to rest on the original vendor, whose agenda may not align with the needs of the community. Open source solutions ensure a future-proof investment and longevity, so that resources and tools are available and continually enhanced for years to come....
To further advance the industry, we must commit to a standards-based and open-source strategy. Not only will it continue to be critical to the health of IoT innovation, but it will lay the groundwork for real innovation. Just as it supported many other areas of technology development—including nothing less than the Internet itself—open standards are the key to realizing the unforeseen benefits of a more connected world. ...Full Story
ANSI Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative (EESCC) Releases Roadmap Progress Report
ANSI.org April 27, 2016 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative (EESCC) announced today the publication of a Progress Report detailing the standardization community’s activity to advance recommendations outlined in the EESCC’s Standardization Roadmap: Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment. Published in June 2014 to serve as a national framework for action and coordination, the roadmap identified gaps where standards and codes were needed to improve energy and water efficiency in the built environment.
Available as a free resource, the Progress Report features updates on 71 of the 109 standards-based gaps identified in the roadmap, demonstrating significant progress within the standardization community to advance energy and water efficiency through standards-based solutions. The report also includes a summary of all of the standards-based roadmap gaps, including those for which there is no known progress at this time, so that readers may easily identify opportunities to take action on closing the gaps.... ...Full Story
Anti-innovation: EU excludes open source from new tech standards
Ars Technica April 27, 2016 - As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the European Commission has unveiled "plans to help European industry, SMEs, researchers and public authorities make the most of new technologies." In order to "boost innovation," the Commission wants to accelerate the creation of new standards for five buzzconcepts: 5G, cloud computing, internet of things, data technologies, and cybersecurity.
The key document is one entitled "ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market," which says: "Open standards ensure ... interoperability, and foster innovation and low market entry barriers in the Digital Single Market, including for access to media, cultural and educational content." The word "open" occurs 26 times in the document, and is also frequently found in the other "communications" just released by the European Commission: on digitising European industry (9 times), and on the European Cloud Initiative (50 times).
"Open" is generally used in the documents to denote "open standards," as in the quotation above. But the European Commission is surprisingly coy about what exactly that phrase means in this context. It is only on the penultimate page of the ICT Standardisation Priorities document that we finally read the following key piece of information: "ICT standardisation requires a balanced IPR [intellectual property rights] policy, based on FRAND licensing terms."...
The problem for open source is that standard licensing can be perfectly fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory, but would nonetheless be impossible for open source code to implement. Typically, FRAND licensing requires a per-copy payment, but for free software, which can be shared any number of times, there's no way to keep tabs on just how many copies are out there. Even if the per-copy payment is tiny, it's still a licensing requirement that open source code cannot meet....Ars has asked the European Commission for comment on its decision to use FRAND, rather than a royalty-free approach. We'll update this story when the EC responds.... ...Full Story
Open Data Barometer 2015: 5 European countries in the Top 10
EU Joinup April 26, 2016 - Five European countries ranked in the top 10 of the 2015 Open Data Barometer, recently published by the World Wide Web Foundation.
The UK is still at the top of the barometer, but is now followed by the USA and France, both ranked second. France, which was third in 2014, received good marks in three criteria: government action, political impact and, citizens and civil rights.
Denmark ranked 5th and moved up by four positions. The Netherlands ranked 7th and Sweden 9th, with both losing ground (-1 for the former, -6 for the latter)....Other conclusions from 2015 include the fact that “Open Data is entering the mainstream”, with 55% of the 92 countries listed in the survey now having an open data initiative in place. However, almost 90% of data are still locked, the report said. Only 10% of the published data are open (following the open data definition) but are also of poor quality, “making it difficult for potential data users to access, process, and work with it effectively”.
Lastly, this Open Data Barometer warns about “open-washing” behavior, which is “jeopardizing progress”. “Open data initiatives cannot be effective if not supported by a culture of openness where citizens are encouraged to ask questions and engage, and are supported by a legal framework”, the report said. “Disturbingly, in this edition we saw a backslide on freedom of information, transparency, accountability, and privacy indicators in some countries.” ...Full Story
European Cloud Initiative to give Europe a global lead in the data-driven economy
European Commission April 25, 2016 - Europe is the largest producer of scientific data in the world, but insufficient and fragmented infrastructure means this 'big data' is not being exploited to its full potential. By bolstering and interconnecting existing research infrastructure, the Commission plans to create a new European Open Science Cloud that will offer Europe's 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders. This will be underpinned by the European Data Infrastructure, deploying the high-bandwidth networks, large scale storage facilities and super-computer capacity necessary to effectively access and process large datasets stored in the cloud. This world-class infrastructure will ensure Europe participates in the global race for high performance computing in line with its economic and knowledge potential.
Focusing initially on the scientific community - in Europe and among its global partners -, the user base will over time be enlarged to the public sector and to industry. This initiative is part of a package of measures to strengthen Europe's position in data-driven innovation, to improve competitiveness and cohesion and to help create a Digital Single Market in Europe (press release)....The European Cloud Initiative will make it easier for researchers and innovators to access and re-use data, and will reduce the cost of data storage and high-performance analysis. Making research data openly available can help boost Europe's competitiveness by benefitting start-ups, SMEs and data-driven innovation, including in the fields of medicine and public health. It can even spur new industries, as demonstrated by the Human Genome Project.... ...Full Story
ANAB and ASCLD/LAB Merge Forensics Operations
ANSI.org Weekly News April 25, 2016 - The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) has signed an affiliation agreement with the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), merging ASCLD/LAB into ANAB.
Like ANAB, ASCLD/LAB provides accreditation based on international standards for public and private sector crime laboratories. Both ANAB and ASCLD/LAB are grounded in conducting scientific and technical assessments and committed to assuring competent and credible test and inspection results. The merger with ASCLD/LAB allows ANAB to enhance its expertise in the field of forensics accreditation while providing uninterrupted service to the customers of both organizations.... ...Full Story
Commission publishes reports on eGovernment and Standards public consultations
EU Joinup April 22, 2016 - Today the European Commission published the analysis reports on two public consultations: eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 and Standards....The majority of the respondents to the consultation on standardisation in the Digital Single Market supported the Commission’s initial problem analysis on ICT standardisation, in particular the need to define clearer priorities for core ICT related technologies. These recommendations to the Commission, along with the advice of the European Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT standardisation will form the basis for the Communication setting up priorities on ICT standardisation for the Digital Single Market.
Building on today's results of the public consultations, the Commission proposed measures on the digitisation of European industry on the 19 April. ...Full Story