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[DotGNU]Firm Changes Mind on SOAP Patent

From: Seth Johnson
Subject: [DotGNU]Firm Changes Mind on SOAP Patent
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 06:59:11 -0500

(Some good news related to the W3C Patent Policy front.  --


Firm changes mind on SOAP patent 

By Margaret Kane 
November 7, 2002, 7:37 AM PT

Portal software maker Epicentric has changed its stance
regarding a patent on a key Web services standard, paving
the way for its approval.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a standards body that
oversees some Internet protocols, is nearing approval on
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) 1.2, one of the four
key Web services specifications.

Along with Extensible Markup Language (XML), SOAP makes Web
services possible by essentially allowing different programs
running on different computers to communicate with one
another. Many industry observers trace the beginning of the
Web services movement to the introduction of SOAP 1.1 in May
2000. The W3C has been working on the follow-up to the
initial specification for about two years and has been close
to the final stages. But patent issues could have held up
the process.

Both Epicentric, a subsidiary of Vignette, and WebMethods,
which makes integration software, said in earlier statements
that they may have patents that cover the technology used in
the SOAP 1.2 specification and that they would only make
those technologies available on a "reasonable and
non-discriminatory" (RAND) basis. That means that the
companies could charge royalties to developers who use SOAP
1.2 and possibly subsequent versions of the specification.

The W3C, however, does not have authorization to include
RAND technologies, instead requiring that any technology
used be available royalty free.

An Epicentric representative said the company will be
amending its stance, saying that it no longer believes it
has related patents and that, regardless, it believes the
technologies should be available on a royalty-free basis.

"Epicentric as a whole believes that for standards to
succeed, all participants should offer any patented
technology in the standard on a royalty-free basis. And at
this time, Epicentric is amending our statement via W3C to
be royalty free," the representative said.

WebMethods representatives could not be reached for comment.

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