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Re: [ossig] Re: [myoss] Revaluing Deployment of Open Source Software

On 19 Oct 2005 at 9:07, Muammar Kris Khaira wrote:

> He has a point regarding open standards. CSS is widely regarded as an 
> open standard, yet is patented by Microsoft but supported more by 
> Mozilla and Konqueror.
> See http://www.w3.org/Press/CSS2-test

The definition of open standards (especially what constitutes "open") is 
murky and subject to interpretation by various parties for their own 
agendas.  So while organisations/projects like the EC's EIF and FOSS 
bodies tend to specify that any patents found in a standard have to to be 
made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis for it to qualify as 
being "open", most standard bodies notably, IETF, W3C, OASIS, IEEE, ISO, 
ITU-T do allow the inclusion of patents in their standards although patent-
free ones are preferred.  The patent policies of these organisations all 
revolve around allowing a reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) policy, 
either with some form of royalty payment or royalty-free or a mixture of 
both.  The W3C (the developer of the CSS standard) policy is by default to 
have royalty-free patents but a standard participant can ask to exclude 
specific patent claims from the royalty-free commitment policy of the W3C.

The issue of RAND-encumbered software patents in standards (as produced 
even by bodies generally perceived to be open standards bodies) is a 
contentious one as far as FOSS advocates are concerned.  Patents in 
software, unless they are granted irrevocably for use royalty-free, will 
curtail the freedom associated with its distribution and modification, two 
fundamental freedoms inherent in FOSS.

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