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I think that we may need to add a new section to the standard BBF RFC template that asks the authors to state any known conflicts regarding property rights that might be asserted against users of any standard being proposed in the RFC. Our goal is to create open technical standards, not just to do so in the open. Thoughts? Endy 17:57, 17 April 2009 (EDT)

  • Reshma 13:19, 20 April 2009 (EDT): Hey Drew, I can appreciate the rationale behind your suggestion. However, in practice, my understanding is that pointing out potential issues regarding property rights can create liabilities for the RFC author. i.e. If the author uses their standard, despite knowing about potential conflicts, then the author may be guilty of willful infringement. In the very unlikely event that a person is sued, I believe that demonstration of willful infringement can increase the penalties associated with the violation. So I wonder if this new section could in fact create problems without actually addressing its primary purpose (developing open standards). My guess is that this is one of those cases where it is better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission re standards development. For those standards that become widely used by the community, we can figure out a way to retroactively make them open down the line.
    • You describe a real problem at one end of the spectrum, with its associated arguments against clear disclosure of interests regarding who owns what. However, such an argument can't be made in a vacuum. The issue at the other end of the spectrum is that somebody will foment the development and acceptance of a technical standard, but then later emerge as a patent holder demanding payment if the standard becomes widely used. The issue we are trying to avoid is the manipulation of the BBF RFC process by an author who knows that they hold a patent or patent application (for example) but don't disclose this information. Endy 11:50, 21 April 2009 (EDT)