I’m not a lawyer, so as always, when dealing with IP Policies you should consult your legal counsel for advice in your circumstances please note that as with any other standards organization or open source software project, the AllSeen Alliance cannot bind companies that are not using AllSeen Alliance code or participating in the Alliance’s ecosystem to any IP Policy. What follows applies to AllSeen Alliance’s members, contributors, distributors, and users of the code.
With that out of the way, I would like to update everyone on an exciting change to the IP Policy at the Alliance that is designed to scale to the next billion devices.
The challenge of the Internet of Everything is that it needs to be just that – an Internet of everything, a global ecosystem of billions of interoperable products, applications, and services all speaking the same language, all working together regardless of manufacturer, industry, or platform. AllJoyn is the open source software project built by the AllSeen Alliance’s thriving technical community of over 110 companies that are delivering on this challenge, creating simple and open technology that connects everything and enables the Internet of Everything.
Device manufacturers and application developers are busy creating smart connected products with widely different use cases that will be combined in untold ways and sold across jurisdictions. They want the enabling power of AllJoyn but they need it delivered within an Intellectual Property (IP) framework that is clear, concise, and aligned with the realities of global business. The challenge to delivering this is that the software that results from the AllJoyn project is the work of many contributors, each participating in a different context, under different constraints, for companies with different corporate goals.
Today we are pleased to announce a revised IP policy that strikes a careful balance, aligning the interests of all of the Alliance stakeholders. This IP framework is designed to enable contribution to AllJoyn under clear terms and to facilitate the broad adoption of AllJoyn in products meeting the interoperability goals of the certification program.
The new IP policy makes it very clear: Use a compliant base implementation of the AllJoyn code, certify your product, and you are good to go – it’s as simple as that.
That’s because the contributors who have and will contribute code to the project are giving you an open-source copyright license to the AllJoyn code and a pledge not to assert the patents they own that are required to implement their contribution in a certified AllJoyn implementation.
The AllSeen IP Policy https://allseenalliance.org/alliance/ip-policy, as updated on 22 January 2015, has a few simple components to its structure that are important to call out as they highlight the intent and goals:
- The Alliance will continue to use the permissive ISC License for copyrights.
- Contributors now make a patent pledge not to assert any of their patents practiced in their contribution against an Alliance-certified implementation of AllJoyn (see “Compliant Base Implementation” in the policy).
- The policy includes a patent pledge termination provision to create a self-policing community and to deter companies involved in developing and using AllSeen code from asserting patents against compliant base implementations.
This approach borrows from other patent pledge models. You might ask “why didn’t the Alliance use X license instead?” The truth is aligning patent provisions to the goals of an effort as complex as AllSeen Alliance is difficult to do, and unfortunately, there were no “off the shelf” options that would cover the concerns of developers, manufacturers, contributing companies, and startups involved in the Alliance. The best approach proved to be starting with well understanding of patent pledge terms and aligning them to the goals of the Alliance.
Getting here has taken a bit of time. When we formed the AllSeen Alliance just over a year ago, we did not have a policy around patents because we knew that getting it right would take a lot of effort. Because our key goal is creating an interoperable ecosystem of billions of devices, our first step on the path entailed understanding what should be required to certify a product as compliant and therefore interoperable. With that in hand, we rolled out the first phase of the certification and compliance program, Designed for AllSeen in Aug 2014, and then moved on to tackling revisions to the IP policy that provided the clarity needed for manufacturers and developers. We think the wait was worth it. A lot of thoughtful work went into building our new IP policy and the supporting procedures around it that ensure its success. We now have a revised IP Policy that we hope will continue to expand our thriving technical ecosystem and deliver an open, interoperable Internet of Everything.