New OASIS chairman replaced after only five months

New OASIS chairman replaced after only five months

Summary: No real details on this yet.  But a quick examination of the Board of Directors page over at OASIS' web site reveals that after barely five months at the helm,  OASIS Chairman of the Board Jim Hughes (of HP)--who held that title as recently as yesterday--has been replaced by Sun's Eduardo Gutentag.

TOPICS: Patents

No real details on this yet.  But a quick examination of the Board of Directors page over at OASIS' web site reveals that after barely five months at the helm,  OASIS Chairman of the Board Jim Hughes (of HP)--who held that title as recently as yesterday--has been replaced by Sun's Eduardo Gutentag.  According to that page, Hughes has not taken another post on OASIS' board. In March 2005, Hughes took the place of Intel's Colin Evans, who served on the OASIS board for four years.   The change wasn't entirely unplanned.  Prior to it being removed from OASIS' Board of Directors web page, Hughes' bio indicated that his term as chairman would only extend through July of this year.  The Board's replacement of Hughes with Gutentag could signal a fundamental shift at the so-called standards consortium that I just recently referred to as a patent shelter (based on its current patent policy). 

Gutentag is widely regarded as one of the shakers and movers at the World Wide Web Consortium that was involved in that organization's adoption of a royalty-free (RF) patent policy in 2003.  As a member of OASIS' intellectual property committee, Gutentag's ascension to the Chairman's job could signal how serious OASIS is taking the charges that were levied against the organization earlier this year when a group of people that reads like the who's who ofthe open source community called for a boycott of the consortium because of a recently adopted (and controversial) patent policy.  That policy added a royalty-free track that's similar to the RF track that was adopted at the W3C. However, the RF option was only added as an alternative to (not as replacement for) OASIS' more patent friendly RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) track.  RAND is widely regarded as a form of licensing that can afford patent holders an unusual amount of control over de jure standards should the standards setting body that ratifies those standards permit that sort of licensing (which OASIS does).

More recently, the issue of privity -- where licensees must explicitly execute a license with a licensor -- has become a hot button for certain OASIS standards.  Under OASIS' existing patent policy, patent holders can require privity of a standard's licensees.  However, requiring privity runs completely counter to open source licensing (you agree to the license when you take delivery and start using or modifying the software without needing to notify the licensor of that acceptance).  As a result, ground zero for the pending reconciliation of incompatibilities between open standards and open source is the current conflict between the patent policy under which certain OASIS-ratified Web services standards are licensed and the open source license that governs the licensing of software from the Apache Software Foundation.  Because of the privity-related incompatibilities between the licenses of the two organizations, the ASF cannot incorporate certain Web services specifications into its software -- specifications that users of that software will desperately need if they're to involve their Web sites in the now growing Web services ecosystem.  If more details regarding the leadership change become available, I'll add an update to this blog.

Topic: Patents

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  • FYI

    A much older standards body ([url=""]JEDEC[/url]) which deals almost entirely in hardware [1] has a [url=""]patent policy[/url] much stricter than OASIS' current RAND policy.

    If OASIS had adopted JEDEC's "unencumbered if possible, RAND if you must" policy from the beginning, I suspect that the current storm could have been avoided.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Footnote

      [1] Hardware is much less affected by a RAND policy since there is always an unavoidable manufacturing cost. Thus there patent royalties don't create a brick-wall obstacle the way they can in software.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Normal Annual OASIS Board Election Process


    Please consider the following facts related to your article about the OASIS Chairman position change that occured last week at our regularly scheduled Board meeting in Billerica, MA.

    The facts: All OASIS Board Directors are elected by the OASIS members to two-year terms. The terms are staggered for continuity of governance, so each year, half of the Board Directors complete their terms. In May, OASIS accepts nominations for the open Board seats; elections are held in June, the results announced to OASIS members in July, and new Board Directors are officially seated at a face-to-face meeting in late July. At that meeting, Directors decide, again by election, who will serve as Board officers. The Board chair is elected every year; the position is never automatically renewed.

    Jim Hughes served on the OASIS Board of Directors since 2001 in various leadership roles and participated as an active member of the consortium for years before that. His second term as an OASIS Board Director was completed in July 2005. He did not run for re-election this year. (This has been a matter of public record since May.) It's true Jim did not serve as Board chair for a full year, but that is simply because the previous chair, Colin Evans, left the Board before completing his term.

    Eduardo Gutentag has served on the OASIS Board of Directors since 2003, was a founding member of the OASIS Technical Advisory Board, and a member of the consortium for more than a decade.

    The Board did not *replace* Jim Hughes with Eduardo Gutentag and the change was certainly not the result of some "fundamental shift". Jim completed his term. The Board elected a chair from existing directors, as they do every year. Eduardo's appointment has nothing to do with the policies of other standards organizations (as you purport) and everything to do with his proven ability to provide fair and competent leadership.

    I speak for all my fellow Board members and for the OASIS membership at-large when I say how deeply grateful we are for the many contributions Jim Hughes and Eduardo Gutentag have made to our organization. We look forward to Jim's continued participation as an OASIS member and to Eduardo's leadership on the Board.

    Your previous blog had nothing to do with the results of an open and democratic election for Board Directors.

    Next time you have a question or theory about the actions of the OASIS organization, please contact myself <> or Carol Geyer <>, Director of Communications, in order to check your facts and receive timely information. We do reply to requests for information or interviews from journalists.

    Patrick Gannon
    President & CEO