Indian Open Standards policy finalized, with a major victory for the FOSS community

Amazing work by all the people involved!

Venkatesh Hariharan reported on the Linux Delhi mailing list today:

The open standards policy has been finalized and it incorporates many of the suggestions made by the FOSS community in India. In the previous draft dated 25/11/2009, our major objection was to section 4.1.2 of the policy which said.

4.1.2 The essential patent claims necessary to implement the Identified Standard should preferably be available on a Royalty-Free (no payment and no restrictions) basis for the life time of the standard. However, if such Standards are not found feasible and in the wider public interest, then RF on Fair, Reasonable and Non Discriminatory terms and conditions (FRAND) or Reasonable and Non Discriminatory terms and conditions (RAND) could be considered.

Our comment on this section reads:

The usage of terms like “preferably” in a section titled, “Mandatory Characteristics” weakens the section and could even render it meaningless. Mandatory characteristics should be laid out clearly and unambiguously. The term “essential patent claims,” is meaningless because a standard cannot be implemented partially. Therefore, the ENTIRE standard should be royalty-free and not just the “essential” parts of it. In other words, ALL patent claims necessary to implement the standard should be royalty-free. Also, RF on FRAND/RAND is self-contradictory. If a Standard is Royalty Free (RF) then it cannot be RAND. Therefore, the wording of this section should be changed to “ALL patent claims necessary to implement the Identified Standard should be available on a Royalty-Free (no payment and no restrictions) basis for the life time of the standard.”

As you can see from the extract below, the points mentioned above have been incorporated In the recently finalized policy. This section now reads:

4.1.2 The Patent claims necessary to implement the Identified Standard shall be made available on a Royalty-Free basis for the life time of the Standard. em>

Overall, I’d say this is a major victory for the Indian FOSS community and more than three years of hard work have paid off. The file can be downloaded from here or from here. (click on the links on the top left hand side).

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