An Open Letter Re OASIS Patent Policy & a Call to Action

by Pamela Jones

February 22 2005

Here's an open letter from a lot of movers and shakers in the FOSS community, who are asking those who agree with their letter to send an email to open at [ ]. The issue is OASIS and its new patent policy [ ], found in Article 10, which becomes effective April 15, 2005. I will let the letter speak for itself.


A Call to Action in OASIS

The free and open source software community has long demanded that industry standards be freely available to all to implement without patent or other licensing encumbrances. Open standards are essential for free software and open source to thrive.

Now OASIS, a major industry consortium that produces e-business and Web services standards, has adopted a patent policy that threatens to undermine our development and licensing model. This patent policy (available, grouped together with other unrelated legal issues, in 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. While the policy includes a provision for royalty-free standards, it is a secondary option, which will have little effect if a few OASIS members with patents can ensure it is not used. The OASIS patent policy will encourage large patent holders to negotiate private arrangements among themselves, locking out all free software and open source developers.

This is not a new issue for us. We fought hard for a royalty-free patent policy in W3C and encouraged that standards organization to commit its members to open standards. But some W3C member companies, steadfast opponents of software freedom, moved their efforts to OASIS. Without consulting the free software/open source community, they produced a patent policy designed so that we cannot live with it.

We ask you to stand with us in opposition to the OASIS patent policy. Do not implement OASIS standards that aren't open. Demand that OASIS revise its policies. If you are an OASIS member, do not participate in any working group that allows encumbered standards that cannot be implemented in open source and free software.

Please send email to open at  [ ] to indicate your support. We will forward your comments to the proper authorities at OASIS.

If we stand united in opposition to this unacceptable patent policy, we can persuade OASIS to change it.


Lawrence Rosen
Bruce Perens
Richard Stallman
Lawrence Lessig
Eben Moglen
Marten Mickos
John Weathersby
John Terpstra
Tim O'Reilly
Tony Stanco
Don Marti
Michael Tiemann
Andrew Aitken
Karen Copenhaver
Doug Levin
Dan Ravicher
Larry Augustin
Mitchell Kapor
Russell Nelson
Guido van Rossum
Daniel Quinlan
Murugan Pal
Stuart Cohen
Danese Cooper
Eric Raymond
Mark Webbink
Ken Coar
Doc Searls
Brian Behlendorf

01:14 PM EST

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