OASIS is not an island

Summary:It just seemed too good to be true -- that people from all across theindustry could put their minds together, collaborate, and come up withsolutions and methods that can automate and advance the competitiveness of our businesses. Now, a calcified, creaky, and lopsided patent structure threatens to gum up the two best things we have going for us in this decade -- Web services and open source.

It just seemed too good to be true -- that people from all across theindustry could put their minds together, collaborate, and come up withsolutions and methods that can automate and advance the competitiveness of our businesses.

Now, a calcified, creaky, and lopsided patent structure threatens to gum up the two best things we have going for us in this decade -- Web services and open source.

Some say that major infrastructure vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and BEA Systems moved their standards development efforts from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to OASIS because they could better lock in their patented technology under OASIS' terms.

Now, CNET's Paul Festa reports on an effort to boycott OASIS on the basis of its recently announced patent policy. According to a letter from some leading open-source software luminaries, OASIS' policy (detailed here):

  • "...permits standards to be based upon so-called 'reasonable and non-discriminatory' patent license terms -- terms which invariably and unreasonably discriminate against open source and free software to the point of prohibiting them entirely. It would lead to the adoption of standards that cannot be implemented in open source and free software, that cannot be distributed under our licenses..."
  • "...The OASIS patent policy will encourage large patent holders to negotiate private arrangements among themselves, locking out all free software and open source developers."

OASIS CEO Patrick Gannon responds that his group's policy "is as strong as the W3C policy in terms ofspecifying work to be royalty-free. Our policy states that standards may incorporate workthat is patented, but that they have to disclose it. And in almost allcases, that results in a royalty-free license for that work." OASISsaid that it revised its policy to specify three modes for standards work: RAND, orreasonable and nondiscriminatory licensing; RF, or royalty-free, onRAND terms; or RF on limited terms.

Let's learn from the SCO debacle. Let's compete on the basis of how well our solutions meet the needs of businesses and organizations. May the best products win where they're supposed to win -- in the marketplace. We don't want lawyers telling us which software we have to use.


























Topics: Patents

About

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. Joe is co-author, along with 16 leading industry leaders and thinkers, of the SOA Manifesto, which outlines the values and guiding principles of service orientation. He speaks frequently on cloud, SOA, data, and... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.