Evolution of the IETF Patent Policy
Find below excerpts of the IPR procedures from current (January 2010) IETF IPR policy documents
This document clarifies and updates a single sentence in RFC 3979. Specifically, when third party Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) disclosures are made, the intention is that the IETF Executive Director notify the IPR holder that a third party disclosure has been filed, and to ask the IPR holder whether they have any disclosure that needs to be made, per applicable RFC 3979 rules.
The IETF policies about Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), such as patent rights, relative to technologies developed in the IETF are designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have as much information about any IPR constraints on a technical proposal as possible. The policies are also intended to benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the legitimate rights of IPR holders. This memo details the IETF policies concerning IPR related to technology worked on within the IETF. It also describes the objectives that the policies are designed to meet. This memo updates RFC 2026 and, with RFC 3978, replaces Section 10 of RFC 2026. This memo also updates paragraph 4 of Section 3.2 of RFC 2028, for all purposes, including reference  in RFC 2418.
The IETF policies about Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), such as patent rights, relative to technologies developed in the IETF are designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have as much information about any IPR constraints on a technical proposal as possible. The policies are also intended to benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the legitimate rights of IPR holders. This memo details the IETF policies concerning IPR related to technology worked on within the IETF. It also describes the objectives that the policies are designed to meet. This memo updates RFC 2026 and, with RFC 3978, replaces Section 10 of RFC 2026. This memo also updates paragraph 4 of Section 3.2 of RFC 2028, for all purposes, including reference  in RFC 2418. See Excerpted Text below
IETF Rights in Contributions
The IETF policies about rights in
Contributions to the IETF are designed to ensure that such
Contributions can be made available to the IETF and Internet communities
while permitting the authors to retain as many rights as possible.
This memo details the IETF policies on rights in Contributions to the
IETF. It also describes the objectives that the policies are
designed to meet. This memo updates RFC 2026, and, with RFC 3979,
replaces Section 10 of RFC 2026.
Guidelines for Working Groups on Intellectual Property Issues http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3669.txt? This memo lays out a conceptual framework and rules of thumb useful for working groups dealing with IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues. It documents specific examples of how IPR issues have been dealt with in the IETF
A Code of Conduct for Individual Members of the Internet Society January 2003 http://www.isoc.org/members/codeconduct.shtml The purpose of this code of conduct is to indicate the standard of professional behaviour to which ISOC members aspire, and which is intended to be an example to Internet professionals as a whole. It can be used by members to measure their own behaviour, and as a reference when considering the behaviour of others. The items in the code are intended to be as close as possible to observable or measureable behaviours, rather than requiring subjective or ethical judgment.
and Historical text of previous policies:
The visitor to this page may also be interested in Intellectual Property Rights Policies of selected standards developer 2004 and Criteria for the Evaluation of a patent policy for a Standards Setting Organization ; CONSIDERATIONS IN ASSESSING A STANDARDS DEVELOPING ORGANIZATION'S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS POLICIES IN ADVANCE OF PARTICIPATION (MAY 2002) and Evolution of the ANSI Patent Policy
4. Actions for Documents for which IPR Disclosure(s) Have Been Received (C)
Where Intellectual Property Rights have been disclosed for IETF Documents as provided in Section 6 of this document, the IETF Executive Director shall request from the discloser of such IPR, a written assurance that upon approval by the IESG for publication as RFCs of the relevant IETF specification(s), all persons will be able to obtain the right to implement, use, distribute and exercise other rights with respect to Implementing Technology under one of the licensing options specified in Section 6.5 below unless such a statement has already been submitted. The working group proposing the use of the technology with respect to which the Intellectual Property Rights are disclosed may assist the IETF Executive Director in this effort
6.5. What licensing information to detail in a disclosure. Since IPR disclosures will be used by IETF working groups during their evaluation of alternative technical solutions, it is helpful if an IPR disclosure includes information about licensing of the IPR in case Implementing Technologies require a license. Specifically, it is helpful to indicate whether, upon approval by the IESG for publication as RFCs of the relevant IETF specification(s), all persons will be able to obtain the right to implement, use, distribute and exercise other rights with respect to an Implementing Technology a) under a royalty-free and otherwise reasonable and non- discriminatory license, or b) under a license that contains reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions, including a reasonable royalty or other payment, or c) without the need to obtain a license from the IPR holder.
10. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
10.1. General Policy
In all matters of intellectual property rights and procedures, the intention is to benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the legitimate rights of others.
10.2 Confidentiality Obligations
No contribution that is subject to any requirement of confidentiality or any restriction on its dissemination may be considered in any part of the Internet Standards Process, and there must be no assumption of any confidentiality obligation with respect to any such contribution.
10.3. Rights and Permissions
In the course of standards work, the IETF receives contributions in various forms and from many persons. To best facilitate the dissemination of these contributions, it is necessary to understand any intellectual property rights (IPR) relating to the contributions.
10.3.1. All Contributions
By submission of a contribution, each person actually submitting the contribution is deemed to agree to the following terms and conditions on his own behalf, on behalf of the organization (if any) he represents and on behalf of the owners of any propriety rights in the contribution.. Where a submission identifies contributors in addition to the contributor(s) who provide the actual submission, the actual submitter(s) represent that each other named contributor was made aware of and agreed to accept the same terms and conditions on his own behalf, on behalf of any organization he may represent and any known owner of any proprietary rights in the contribution.
l. Some works (e.g. works of the U.S. Government) are not subject to copyright. However, to the extent that the submission is or may be subject to copyright, the contributor, the organization he represents (if any) and the owners of any proprietary rights in the contribution, grant an unlimited perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license to the ISOC and the IETF under any copyrights in the contribution. This license includes the right to copy, publish and distribute the contribution in any way, and to prepare derivative works that are based on or incorporate all or part of the contribution, the license to such derivative works to be of the same scope as the license of the original contribution.
2. The contributor acknowledges that the ISOC and IETF have no duty to publish or otherwise use or disseminate any contribution.
3. The contributor grants permission to reference the name(s) and address(es) of the contributor(s) and of the organization(s) he represents (if any).
4. The contributor represents that contribution properly acknowledge major contributors.
5. The contribuitor, the organization (if any) he represents and the owners of any proprietary rights in the contribution, agree that no information in the contribution is confidential and that the ISOC and its affiliated organizations may freely disclose any information in the contribution.
6. The contributor represents that he has disclosed the existence of any proprietary or intellectual property rights in the contribution that are reasonably and personally known to the contributor. The contributor does not represent that he personally knows of all potentially pertinent proprietary and intellectual property rights owned or claimed by the organization he represents (if any) or third parties.
7. The contributor represents that there are no limits to the contributor's ability to make the grants acknowledgments and agreements above that are reasonably and personally known to the contributor.
By ratifying this description of the IETF process the Internet Society warrants that it will not inhibit the traditional open and free access to IETF documents for which license and right have been assigned according to the procedures set forth in this section, including Internet-Drafts and RFCs. This warrant is perpetual and will not be revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.
10.3.2. Standards Track Documents
(A) Where any patents, patent applications, or other proprietary rights are known, or claimed, with respect to any specification on the standards track, and brought to the attention of the IESG, the IESG shall not advance the specification without including in the document a note indicating the existence of such rights, or claimed rights. Where implementations are required before advancement of a specification, only implementations that have, by statement of the implementors, taken adequate steps to comply with any such rights, or claimed rights, shall be considered for the purpose of showing the adequacy of the specification.
(B) The IESG disclaims any responsibility for identifying the existence of or for evaluating the applicability of any claimed copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights in the fulfilling of the its obligations under (A), and will take no position on the validity or scope of any such rights.
(C) Where the IESG knows of rights, or claimed rights under (A), the IETF Executive Director shall attempt to obtain from the claimant of such rights, a written assurance that upon approval by the IESG of the relevant Internet standards track specification(s), any party will be able to obtain the right to implement, use and distribute the technology or works when implementing, using or distributing technology based upon the specific specification(s) under openly specified, reasonable, non-discriminatory terms. The Working Group proposing the use of the technology with respect to which the proprietary rights are claimed may assist the IETF Executive Director in this effort. The results of this procedure shall not affect advancement of a specification along the standards track, except that the IESG may defer approval where a delay may facilitate the obtaining of such assurances. The results will, however, be recorded by the IETF Executive Director, and made available. The IESG may also direct that a summary of the results be included in any RFC published containing the specification.
10.3.3 Determination of Reasonable and Non-discriminatory Terms
The IESG will not make any explicit determination that the assurance of reasonable and non-discriminatory terms for the use of a technology has been fulfilled in practice. It will instead use the normal requirements for the advancement of Internet Standards to verify that the terms for use are reasonable. If the two unrelated implementations of the specification that are required to advance from Proposed Standard to Draft Standard have been produced by different organizations or individuals or if the "significant implementation and successful operational experience" required to advance from Draft Standard to Standard has been achieved the assumption is that the terms must be reasonable and to some degree, non-discriminatory. This assumption may be challenged during the Last-Call period.
(A) Standards track documents shall include the following notice:
"The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in this document or the extent to which any license under such rights might or might not be available; neither does it represent that it has made any effort to identify any such rights. Information on the IETF's procedures with respect to rights in standards-track and standards-related documentation can be found in BCP-11. Copies of claims of rights made available for publication and any assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an attempt made to obtain a general license or permission for the use of such proprietary rights by implementors or users of this specification can be obtained from the IETF Secretariat."
(B) The IETF encourages all interested parties to bring to its attention, at the earliest possible time, the existence of any intellectual property rights pertaining to Internet Standards. For this purpose, each standards document shall include the following invitation:
"The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary rights which may cover technology that may be required to practice this standard. Please address the information to the IETF Executive Director."
(C) The following copyright notice and disclaimer shall be included in all ISOC standards-related documentation:
"Copyright (C) The Internet Society (date). All Rights Reserved.
This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it or assist in its implmentation may be prepared, copied, published and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than English.
The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.
This document and the information contained herein is provided on an "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE."
(D) Where the IESG is aware at the time of publication of proprietary rights claimed with respect to a standards track document, or the technology described or referenced therein, such document shall contain the following notice:
"The IETF has been notified of intellectual property rights claimed in regard to some or all of the specification contained in this document. For more information consult the online list of claimed rights."
5. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
5.1. General Policy
In all matters of intellectual property rights and procedures, the intention is to benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the legitimate rights of others.
As used in this section, the following terms have the indicated meanings:
o "Trade secrets" are confidential, proprietary information.
o "Contribution" means any disclosure of information or ideas, whether in oral, written, or other form of expression, by an individual or entity ("Contributor").
o "Standards track documents" are specifications and other documents that have been elevated to the Internet standards track in accordance with the Internet Standards Process.
o "Copyrights" are purportedly valid claims to copyright in all or part of a contribution to standards work, whether or not the contribution becomes a standards track document, including but not limited to any works by third parties that the contribution is based on or incorporates.
o "ISOC" refers to the Internet Society and its trustees, officers, employees, contractors, and agents, as well as the IAB, IETF, IESG, IRTF, IRSG, and other task forces, committees, and groups coordinated by the Internet Society.
o "Standards work" is work involved in the creation, testing, development, revision, adoption, or maintenance of an Internet standard that is carried out under the auspices of ISOC.
o "Internet community" refers to the entire set of persons, whether individuals or entities, including but not limited to technology developers, service vendors, and researchers, who use the Internet, either directly or indirectly, and users of any other networks which implement and use Internet Standards.
5.3 Trade Secret Rights
Except as otherwise provided under this section, ISOC will not accept, in connection with standards work, any idea, technology, information, document, specification, work, or other contribution, whether written or oral, that is a trade secret or otherwise subject to any commitment, understanding, or agreement to keep it confidential or otherwise restrict its use or dissemination; and, specifically, ISOC does not assume any confidentiality obligation with respect to any such contribution.
5.4. Rights and Permissions
In the course of standards work, ISOC receives contributions in various forms and from many persons. To facilitate the wide dissemination of these contributions, it is necessary to establish specific understandings concerning any copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights in the contribution. The procedures set forth in this section apply to contributions submitted after 1 April 1994. For Internet standards documents published before this date (the RFC series has been published continuously since April 1969), information on rights and permissions must be sought directly from persons claiming rights therein.
5.4.1. All Contributions
By submission of a contribution to ISOC, and in consideration of possible dissemination of the contribution to the Internet community, a contributor is deemed to agree to the following terms and conditions:
l. Contributor agrees to grant, and does grant to ISOC, a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license under any copyrights in the contribution to reproduce, distribute, perform or display publicly and prepare derivative works that are based on or incorporate all or part of the contribution, and to reproduce, distribute and perform or display publicly any such derivative works, in any form and in all languages, and to authorize others to do so.
2. Contributor acknowledges that ISOC has no duty to publish or otherwise use or disseminate every contribution.
3. Contributor grants ISOC permission to reference the name(s) and address(s) of the contributor as well as other persons who are named as contributors.
4. Where the contribution was prepared jointly with others, or is a work for hire, the contributor represents and warrants that the other owner(s) of rights have been informed of the rights and permissions granted to ISOC and that any required authorizations have been obtained. Copies of any such required authorizations will be furnished to ISOC, upon request.
5. Contributor acknowledges and agrees that ISOC assumes no obligation to maintain any confidentiality with respect to any aspect of the contribution, and warrants that the the contribution does not violate the rights of others.
6. All material objects in which contributions are submitted to ISOC become the property of ISOC and need not be returned to the contributor.
Where appropriate, written confirmation of the above terms and conditions will be obtained in writing by ISOC, usually by electronic mail; however, a decision not to obtain such confirmation in a given case shall not act to revoke the prior grant of rights and permissions with respect to the contribution as provided herein. Except as provided below, the Executive Director of the IETF Secretariat, or a person designated by the Executive Director, will be responsible for obtaining written confirmations.
In the case of IETF Working Groups, the responsibility for identifying the principal contributor(s) for purposes of obtaining written confirmation of the above rights and permissions will be assumed by the Editor or Chair of the particular Group. While only those persons named as principal contributor(s) will generally be requested to provide written confirmation, it is the responsibility of all contributors to standards work to inform the IETF Secretariat of any proprietary claims in any contributions and to furnish the Secretariat with any required confirmation.
Where any person participating in standards work asserts any proprietary right in a contribution, it is the responsibility of such person to so inform the Editor or Chair of the group, promptly, in writing. The Editor or Chair will then determine whether to list the person as a principal contributor, or to revise the document to omit the particular contribution in question.
5.4.2. Standards Track Documents
(A) ISOC will not propose, adopt, or continue to maintain any standards, including but not limited to standards labelled Proposed, Draft or Internet Standards, which can only be practiced using technology or works that are subject to known copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other rights, except with the prior written assurance of the owner of rights that:
l. ISOC may, without cost, freely implement and use the technology or works in its standards work;
2. upon adoption and during maintenance of an Internet Standard, any party will be able to obtain the right to implement and use the technology or works under specified, reasonable, non-discriminatory terms; and
3. the party giving the assurance has the right and power to grant the licenses and knows of no other copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights that may prevent ISOC and members of the Internet community from implementing and operating under the standard.
(B) ISOC disclaims any responsibility for identifying the existence of or for evaluating any copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights, on behalf of or for the benefit of any member of the Internet community, and ISOC takes no position on the validity or scope of any such rights. Further, ISOC will take no position on the ownership of inventions made during standards work, except for inventions of which an employee or agent of the Internet Society is a joint inventor. In the latter case, the Internet Society will make its rights available under license to anyone in the Internet community in accordance with the written assurances set forth below.
(A) When a written assurance has been obtained as set forth below, the relevant standards track documents shall include the following notice:
"__________(name of rights' owner) has provided written assurance to the Internet Society that any party will be able to obtain, under reasonable, nondiscriminatory terms, the right to use the technology covered by__________(list copyrights, patents, patent applications, and other rights) to practice the standard. A copy of this assurance may be obtained from the Executive Director of the IETF Secretariat. The Internet Society takes no position on the validity or scope of the copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights, or on the appropriateness of the terms and conditions of the assurances. The Internet Society does not make any representation there are no other rights which may apply to the practice of this standard, nor that it has made any effort to identify any such rights. For further information on the Internet Society's procedures with respect to rights in standards and standards-related documentation, see RFC_____, dated________."
(B) ISOC encourages all interested parties to bring to its attention, at the earliest possible time, the existence of any copyrights, patents, patent applications, or other rights pertaining to Internet Standards. For this purpose, each standards document will include the following invitation:
"The Internet Society invites any interested party to bring to its attention any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary rights which purport to cover technology or works that may be required to practice this standard. Please address the information to the Executive Director of the Internet Engineering Task Force Secretariat."
(C) When applicable, the following sentence will be included in the notice:
"As of __________, no information about any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary rights has been received."
(D) The following copyright notice and disclaimer will be included in all ISOC standards-related documentation:
"Copyright (c) ISOC (year date). Permission is granted to reproduce, distribute, transmit and otherwise communicate to the public any material subject to copyright by ISOC, provided that credit is given to the source. For information concerning required permissions, please contact the Executive Director of the Internet Engineering Task Force Secretariat."
ISOC hereby informs the Internet community and other persons that any standards, whether or not elevated to the Internet Standard level of maturity, or any standards-related documentation made available under the auspices of ISOC are provided on an "AS IS" basis and ISOC DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OR THAT ANY STANDARD OR DOCUMENTATION DOES NOT VIOLATE THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS.
The agreement on assurances set forth below will normally be entered into between the owner of rights and ISOC at the time a standards track document in which proprietary rights are claimed reaches the "Proposed Standard" stage of maturity:
This is an agreement between ______________(hereinafter called "Rights Holder") and the Internet Society on behalf of itself and its trustees, officers, employees, contractors and agents, the Internet Architecture Board, Internet Engineering Steering Group, Internet Engineering Task Force, and other task forces, committees and groups coordinated by the Internet Society (hereinafter called "ISOC"), and for the benefit of all users of the Internet and users of any other networks which implement and use Internet Standards (hereinafter together with ISOC called "Internet community"). This agreement takes effect when signed on behalf of the Rights Holder and the Internet Society.
The Rights Holder represents that it has or will have rights in patent applications, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and other proprietary rights in various countries (hereinafter called "Rights") which may block or impede the ability of the Internet community to implement and operate under the standards set forth in ISOC standards document ____,____, and ____(the listed standards and any similar or related standards now existing or later developed are together hereinafter called "Standards"). The Rights as they presently exist are listed on attached Schedule A. The Rights Holder further agrees to review the Rights listed in Schedule A from time to time, and, in particular, immediately prior to the elevation of the Standards to the Internet Standard level of maturity in accordance with the Internet Standards Process, and to inform the Executive Director of the Internet Engineering Task Force Secretariat promptly upon learning of any new Rights in the Standards that should be added to the list in Schedule A.
The Rights Holder believes and affirms that it will derive benefits by permitting ISOC and the Internet community to implement and operate under the Standards without interference of any of the Rights. The policy of ISOC is not to propose, adopt, or continue to maintain the Standards unless written assurances are given by the Rights Holder with respect to proprietary rights. Accordingly, in consideration of the benefits noted above and other good and valuable consideration, the Rights Holder makes the assurances set forth herein.
The Rights Holder grants to ISOC a cost-free, perpetual, non-exclusive, world-wide license under the Rights with respect to implementing and operating under the Standards. The license extends to all activities of ISOC involving the Standards without limit, including the rights to reproduce, distribute, propose, test, develop, analyze, enhance, revise, adopt, maintain, withdraw, perform and display publicly, and prepare derivative works in any form whatsoever and in all languages, and to authorize others to do so. The Rights Holder also grants ISOC permission to use the name and address of Rights Holder in connection with the Standards.
The Rights Holder relinquishes any right or claim in any trade secret which is part of the Rights, and makes the trade secrets available without restriction to the Internet community. The Rights Holder hereby acknowledges that ISOC assumes no obligation to maintain any confidentiality with respect to any aspect of the Standards, and warrants that the Standards do not violate the rights of others.
The Rights Holder assures ISOC that the Rights Holder shall grant to any member of the Internet community, as a beneficiary of this agreement, a non-exclusive, perpetual, world-wide license under the Rights, with respect to operating under the Standards for a reasonable royalty and under other terms which are reasonable considering the objective of ISOC to assure that all members of the Internet community will be able to operate under the Standards at a minimal cost. The license discussed in this paragraph shall permit the licensee to make, have made, test, enhance, implement, and use methods, works, computer programs, and hardware as needed or desirable for operating under the Standards. Every license shall include a clause automatically modifying the terms of the license to be as favorable as the terms of any other license under the Rights previously or later granted by the Rights Holder.
A form of the license shall always be publicly accessible on the Internet, and shall become effective immediately when the member of the Internet community executes it and posts it for delivery to the Rights Holder either by mail or electronically. The initial version of the license shall be in the form attached as Schedule B.
The Rights Holder represents and warrants that its rights are sufficient to permit it to grant the licenses and give the other assurances recited in this agreement. The Rights Holder further represents and warrants that it does not know of any rights of any other party in any country which would block or impede the ability of ISOC and the Internet community to implement or operate under the Standards, or that would prevent the Rights Holder from granting the licenses and other assurances in this agreement.
This agreement shall not be construed to obligate the ISOC to propose, adopt, develop, or maintain any of the Standards or any other standard.
5. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
This requirement refers specifically to disclosure of the *existence* of a current or anticipated claim of an intellectual property right, not the details of the asserted right itself.
(a) assurance in the form of a general disclaimer to the effect that the patent holder does not hold and does not anticipate holding any right that would be violated as a consequence of conformance to the standard, or
About the Compiler of this information:: George T. Willingmyre, P.E. is President of GTW Associates, a consulting firm specializing in international trade, standards policy and conformity assessment matters. Previously, Mr. Willingmyre was Vice President of Washington Operations for the American National Standards Institute. Willingmyre was involved in the public and private sector resolution of the early 1990 IPR ETSI IPR Undertaking controversy. Willingmyre current participates in the ANSI Patent Group, the ITU/T Directors ad hoc group on IPR; the IETF poised policy discussion list and served for 2 years on the W3C patent group. GTW Associates clients include Microsoft Corporation; DaimlerChrysler; European Commission; OECD, the Japan METI and various law firms involved in patent/IPR litigation.