June 26, 2000
Published by: Free Protocols Foundation 17005 SE 31st Place Bellevue, WA 98008 USA Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.
Software patents pose a significant danger to protocols. In some cases patents become included in protocols by accident - that is, without deliberate intentionality on the part of the protocol developer. In other cases, however, an unscrupulous company or organization may deliberately introduce patented components into a protocol, in an attempt to gain market advantage via ownership of the protocol.
In either case, the protocol can then be held hostage by the patent-holder, to the enormous detriment of anyone else who may wish to use it. The inclusion of software-related patents in protocols is extremely damaging to the software industry in general, and to the consumer.
The mission of the Free Protocols Foundation is to prevent this from happening. We have defined a set of processes which a protocol developer can use to work towards a patent-free result, and we provide a public forum in which the developer can declare that the protocol conforms to these processes. As described below, it is not possible to provide an absolute guarantee that any particular protocol is truly patent-free. However, the Free Protocols Foundation processes allow a developer to provide some public assurance that reasonable, good-faith measures have been taken to create a patent-free protocol.
In some cases, standards organizations such as the IESG make use of their own processes for developing patent-free protocols. However, these processes are available only for the organization's own internal use. The Free Protocols Foundation makes the same general processes available to any protocol developer. Its processes allow any company, organization or individual to develop patent-free protocols, without requiring the developer to be part of a formal standards organization.
At the Free Protocols Foundation we strenuously oppose the creation and promotion of patented protocols. By providing clear mechanisms and assurances of patent-freedom, our goal is to make it abundantly clear to the industry at large whether a particular protocol is, or is not, patent-free.
At the time of writing, there is an ongoing debate within the software industry regarding software patents. Like many others within the industry, we at the Free Protocols Foundation regard the historical tradition of patents as being entirely inappropriate for software.
We consider software patents to have the effect of inhibiting free and open competition within the software industry, and to be extremely detrimental to the industry and the consumer. A complete discussion of the software patent issue is outside the scope of this document. More information on this subject can be found at various sources, for example  or .
Patents are applied to software, not to protocols. It is not possible to patent a protocol; in general only a process or an algorithm can be patented. However, a protocol may include a patented algorithm as an integral part of its specification. In this case, any software implementation of the protocol requires the use of patented software. That is, a patented algorithm is an inherent part of the protocol.
Even if a protocol does not explicitly decree the use of a specific patented software process, it may still be the case that any practical implementation of the protocol requires the use of patented software components. The protocol could in principle be implemented in a way which avoids the use of patented software. In practice, however, the result would be a significantly inferior implementation, for example in terms of efficiency.
In either case, the protocol effectively implies the use of patented software. We will refer to any such protocol as a patented protocol. That is, a patented protocol is any protocol whose practical implementation requires the use of patented software components.
We will use the term patent-free protocol, or just free protocol, to refer to a protocol which is functionally free from software patents. By ``functionally free from software patents,'' we mean either that (a) the protocol is truly free from patents, or (b) if the protocol does imply the use of patented software, that the patent-holder has granted non-restrictive rights to include the patented software components in implementations of the protocol.
In either case, the result is that the protocol can be freely implemented and used by anyone, without encountering significant restrictions.
Because of the current state of affairs regarding software patents, it is no longer possible to be absolutely certain that any particular protocol is patent-free. Whether or not a new invention or technology violates any existing patents has traditionally been determined by means of a patent-search - a direct search and examination of all relevant pre-existing patents. In the case of a physical technology, this yields a more or less definitive answer as to whether or not the technology violates any existing patents.
In the case of software, however, it is not possible to answer this question with the same degree of certainty. The basic reason for this lies in the very high degree of subtlety and complexity of modern software systems. A software system may contain hundreds or thousands of individual software constructs, any one of which may potentially violate an existing patent. Furthermore, it is very difficult to establish a taxonomy of existing software patents. A taxonomy is required to guide the patent-search process - the taxonomy defines which patents are ``related'' to the technology under search. Without a well-defined and meaningful taxonomy, it is not possible to define an appropriate scope of search.
In other words, a software system may contain a small universe of software constructs. Meanwhile, the Patent and Trademark Office has established a small universe of software patents. Unfortunately, there is no way to establish with certainty that none of the elements of one universe also reside in the other universe.
To make matters worse, there can be room for dispute regarding whether or not a particular software construct violates a particular patent. The patent-holder may claim that it does, while the software developer claims that it does not. If the two parties are unable to come to agreement, the issue can only be resolved in the courts.
Finally, because of the delay between a company filing a patent application and the granting of the patent by the PTO, it is entirely possible for a company to conduct a software patent-search with negative results, only to discover subsequently that a patent has been granted after-the-fact, which now places its software in violation.
For all these reasons, it has now become essentially impossible to establish with certainty that a particular piece of software is, and will remain, truly patent-free. Likewise, it has become impossible to establish with certainty that a particular protocol is, and will remain, patent-free.
Legal rights such as patents and copyright are sometimes referred to collectively as ``Intellectual Property Rights.'' Although this is a very commonly used term, we will avoid using it in this document.
Along with other authors, we object to the use of this term on the grounds that it blurs the distinction between intellectual items and material ones. The law allows ownership rights to be asserted with regard to both types of item, and therefore both may be considered in some sense to be ``property.'' However, we regard intellectual entities such as software and protocols to be fundamentally different in nature to material items, and worthy of entirely different legal treatment relating to questions of ownership.
Furthermore, the term ``Intellectual Property Rights'' is typically used to encompass a number of widely differing legal constructs, including patents, copyrights and trademarks. These three legal constructs have entirely different purposes, mechanisms, and consequences. Grouping all three together suggests that they share a general similarity, and leads to a misunderstanding of their important distinctions. For more discussion on this, see .
Where necessary, we will use explicit terms such as ``patent,'' or ``copyright,'' to refer to legal rights relating to intellectual constructs.
Throughout this document, we will use the following terms with the meanings indicated:
This document establishes a set of policies and procedures for protocol development that is designed to ensure, insofar as this is possible, that the resulting protocol is functionally patent-free. The purpose of these procedures is to create a resulting protocol that is either free from patent restrictions, or for which non-restrictive usage rights have been obtained from the patent-holder. These procedures are set forth in Section 6.
The procedures of Section 6 are based on a similar set of procedures defined by the IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group). Specifically, the FPF procedures are an extension of Section 10, Intellectual Property Rights, of RFC 2026, The Internet Standards Process - Revision 3 .
That section defines the procedures to be followed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) relating to patent-freedom. However, the scope of RFC 2026 is largely limited to the needs of the IESG itself; in particular, the patent-related procedures of Section 10 of RFC 2026 are limited to standards-track documents and other IETF-specific purposes. Thus, while these patent procedures may be entirely adequate for the needs of the IETF, they are not adequate to dealing with patent-freedom in a more general setting.
The processes and procedures in Section 6 of this document are therefore an extension of the RFC 2026 procedures, designed to address the need for patent-freedom procedures in general. They are intended to be a set of general-purpose processes which can be adopted by any protocol development organization.
This document is available in several alternative formats at the Free
Protocols Foundation website
Protocols come in all shapes and sizes, and from a variety of sources. Some are proprietary, intended for use exclusively by their developer. Others may be ``open'' in some sense, indicating that they are intended for more general, public usage. In this context, the word ``open'' can mean any one of several different things. It may mean nothing more than that the protocol has been published by its developer. The protocol may still be very tightly controlled: revision of the protocol may remain the exclusive right of the developer, the protocol may be protected by patent or copyright restrictions, and use of the protocol may require a licensing agreement. This is a very narrow, and to our mind misleading, use of the word ``open.''
At the other extreme, the protocol may be open to a very high degree of public accessibility: it can be published by an open mechanism such as RFC publication, undergo revision by means of public working groups, and be entirely free of usage restrictions. A protocol satisfying all these criteria can be said to be ``open'' in the broadest sense. Protocols are often referred to as ``open'' to imply that they are open in a broad sense, whereas in fact they are open only in the narrowest sense.
Also, protocols can have widely differing periods of industry tenure. Some protocols never achieve widespread acceptance and usage, or else have very short lifetimes before becoming obsolete or being eclipsed by competing protocols. Other protocols become highly successful and persist as long-term industry standards.
Over its lifetime, a protocol typically goes through a number of developmental phases. In general, from conception to decease, a protocol may go through some or all of the following phases:
Depending on its purpose, nature, and history, a protocol may undergo some, all, or none of these phases. Also, a protocol may iterate through phases 3 - 7 multiple times, as it undergoes maturation via repeated revision and re-publication. As described later, the Free Protocols Foundation plays a role in only two of these phases. For completeness, however, in the following sections we provide a brief description of each phase, along with commentary on the FPF's philosophy regarding the protocol development process.
The conception and early development of a protocol can take place in a variety of ways. A traditional source of Internet protocols is the IETF/IESG. Other sources of protocols are private businesses, the academic community, or even a single individual.
We believe that there is a tendency among established standards bodies to regard their own, officially sanctioned protocols as authoritative, while any other protocol is of questionable worth or validity. However, the history of protocol development does not support this view. Small groups of individuals have created protocols with far-reaching consequences (e.g. the World Wide Web), just as established standards bodies have created protocols which failed to achieved industry acceptance.
At the Free Protocols Foundation, we do not regard any one source of protocols as necessarily superior to any other. We believe that any coordination of activities can generate useful protocols, and we are ready to provide the same support for patent-freedom regardless of the initial source of the protocol.
If necessary, global parameters must be assigned to the protocol, e.g. by the IANA. The Free Protocols Foundation plays no role in this process.
If the protocol is intended to be an open protocol, as opposed to an exclusively proprietary one, then it must be made publicly available. This can be accomplished in various ways; the protocol can be self-published by the developer, or it can be published through an independent agency such as the Internet RFC Editor.
Ideally, the protocol should be published in a way which allows permanent and unrestricted access to the protocol by anyone wishing to implement it. In the case of Internet protocols, this is usually accomplished by RFC publication.
Depending on their intentions, the developers of a protocol may take steps to work towards a patent-free result, and they may wish to make certain declarations to that effect.
In general, there may be both an Author and a Working Group involved in the development of a protocol. The Author is the person, company, or other entity that has primary responsibility for the protocol. In some cases, the protocol may also undergo development at the hands of a Working Group - a set of independent individuals or companies who work cooperatively on the protocol, usually via public mailing lists.
Both the Author and the Working Group may wish to make declarations regarding the patent-freedom of the protocol. The Author may wish to make an initial declaration that the protocol is intended to be patent-free. As described previously, it is not possible to make an absolute guarantee that a protocol is, and will remain, completely patent-free. The best an Author can do is make a good-faith declaration that:
Similarly, the Working Group may wish to make a declaration that:
One of the roles of the Free Protocols Foundation is to provide a public forum in which such declarations can be made. Any such declaration which is submitted to the FPF will be published on our website at http://www.FreeProtocols.org. Examples of previously submitted declarations may be seen at that location.
The ultimate test of a protocol is whether or not it becomes widely accepted and implemented in the industry. If a protocol is largely unused, or eclipsed by a competing protocol, then it is largely irrelevant.
Protocols are usually not static, but instead typically undergo revision and enhancement in response to experience and/or changing industry requirements. Depending on the intentions of the Authors, this may take place by closed and proprietary processes, or by open and public ones. In the case of a truly open protocol, the development process should allow commentary and participation by all the constituencies that are affected by the protocol.
In some cases, continued development and enhancement of the protocol is accomplished by means of a public Working Group. Also depending on the Authors' intentions, the Working Group may function in a way which preserves the patent-freedom of the protocol, and the Working Group may wish to make a declaration to this effect.
Two things are required in order to achieve these goals. First, the developers must establish and follow a set of Working Group operating procedures that will have the effect of preserving the patent-freedom of the protocol. Second, the developers must make a public declaration that the Working Group follows these procedures.
A developer can achieve both of these things without the assistance of the Free Protocols Foundation. The development organization can establish its own set of Working Group operating procedures, and can independently announce that the Working Group follows them.
However, the Free Protocols Foundation provides a means of accomplishing these things which is external to and independent of the development organization itself. It is for this purpose that the FPF primarily exists. First, the FPF defines a clear and unambiguous set of Working Group processes and procedures which ensure, insofar as possible, that the resulting protocol will remain functionally patent-free. Any development organization is free to adopt these procedures with regard to its own protocol. Second, the FPF provides an external forum in which the developer may declare publicly that its Working Group follows these procedures.
The FPF Working Group procedures are designed to:
The ultimate arbiter of protocols is the industry itself, in which a multitude of individual decisions leads to the acceptance or rejection of any particular protocol. The acceptance of a protocol as a standard is therefore something that occurs independently of formal endorsement by a standards body.
For example, both HTTP and HTML, the two protocols which form the basis of world-wide Internet communications, were developed and gained prominence entirely independently of any formal standards body. The same is true of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), now a world-wide encryption standard. These and many other protocols became industry standards despite lack of endorsement by a formal standards organization.
Nevertheless, once a protocol has become accepted as an industry standard, it is often the case that it receives the formal sanction of a standards body.
In our model of the protocol development process, the scope of FPF activities is limited to two items exclusively:
The Free Protocols Foundation has no agenda other than this.
Note that the role played by the FPF regarding protocol patents is somewhat analogous to the role played by the RFC Editor regarding protocol publication. RFC publication provides a means of publishing, via an independent agency, Internet protocols which have been produced by a variety of sources.
Similarly, the FPF represents a means of dealing with patent issues by an independent agency. Hitherto, this responsibility has been taken by multiple standards bodies, each of which has been obliged to define its own processes and procedures relating to patents. By adopting the FPF procedures, a standards body or development organization can make use of a set of general services established by an external agency.
It is sometimes the case that many of the above phases of development take place under the direction of a single institution, or a group of tightly coupled institutions. For example, when developing protocols the IETF/IESG/IAB traditionally claims authority for all aspects of development except for (5), over which, of course, it has no direct control.
At the Free Protocols Foundation, we consider it undesirable to place control of multiple aspects of the development process in the hands of any single institution. First, this can include built-in conflicts of interest. For example, if a standards body is responsible both for developing protocols and publishing protocols, the body may be inclined to favor publication of its own protocols in preference to competing protocols from other sources, or it may be inclined to place inappropriate commentary within competing protocols. The IETF/IESG, for example, has a history of doing both of these things.
As another example, if the Maintenance and Enhancement responsibility is closely-held by a developing company or group of companies, this process may be biased in favor of the companies' interests, rather than those of the industry at large.
Furthermore, a large spread of responsibility within a single institution can lead to bureaucratization of its activities; the energy of the organization can become directed towards maintaining its internal bureaucracy, rather than serving the needs of its consumers. In other words, the institution can become authority oriented, as opposed to responsibility oriented. The historical evolution of the IETF/IESG/IAB is a classic example of this.
For these reasons, the Free Protocols Foundation is in favor of decoupling, as much as possible, the responsibility for the various aspects of development. A separation of powers greatly lessens the potential for conflicts of interest. Furthermore, an organization with limited responsibility can be discarded, reformed, or replaced more easily than one with very broad responsibility. Separation of powers thus provides a greater degree of choice, and therefore competition, within the protocol development process.
The Free Protocols Foundation is therefore in favor of placing responsibility for the various phases and aspects of development in the hands of independent organizations with limited agendas. We favor delegating the Protocol Publication phase to a truly independent third-party entity, such as the Internet RFC Editor. We favor handling the Maintenance and Enhancement phase by means of a variety of truly open public working groups, not just the IETF. Both of these steps ensure unbiased processing of the protocol.
In the same spirit, we favor placing responsibility for working towards patent-freedom in the hands of an independent organization. It is primarily for this reason that the Free Protocols Foundation exists. The role of the Free Protocols Foundation is to place those aspects of the protocol development process which relate to patent-freedom in a common, central, public location. The various other aspects of the development process have been described only to place the role of the FPF in its proper context; the FPF plays no role in those aspects.
As described in the previous section, the FPF is in favor of distributing responsibility for the various aspects of protocol development, rather than consolidating all these aspects under the umbrella of a single organization, such as the IETF.
The objection may be made, that this distribution of responsibility creates coordination difficulties. It can be argued that vertically-integrated organizations like the IETF play a valuable role in terms of coordination of activities, and that it is more difficult to coordinate the activities of multiple independent organizations. In particular, it can be said that the IETF assists in the logical and orderly development of multiple protocols, by establishing a common architecture and structure for sets of related protocols.
However, we believe that this objection is unfounded. It has been well demonstrated, for example by the development of Linux, that multiple independent entities can coordinate their development efforts extremely effectively. In any event, the advantages to be gained from a separation of powers certainly exceed the drawbacks.
Various standards organizations share our view that patents pose a significant danger to protocols, and therefore include processes within their protocol development procedures which work towards patent-freedom. An excellent example is provided by the IESG protocol development procedures , on which our own are based.
In general, however, these patent-free processes are created for the standards organizations internal use, and are not available for a protocol which is not officially sanctioned by the organization. To use the IETF as an example again, its patent-free processes apply only to IETF standards track protocols, and the IETF exercises selectivity over which protocols it does, or does not, place on standards track. If the IETF does not consider a protocol worthy of being placed on standards track, then its patent-free processes are not available to that protocol.
In effect, the IESG places an imprimatur of legitimacy on some protocols, but not others. The Free Protocols Foundation, on the other hand, makes its patent-free processes available to any protocol developer, without discrimination.
This represents a fundamental difference in philosophy and purpose between the IETF/IESG and the Free Protocols Foundation. We believe that the official sanctioning of some protocols and not others is unnecessary and without purpose. Standards organizations such as the IETG/IESG certainly have no monopoly on innovation, creativity, or competence. Any company, organization or individual is capable of creating protocols that become successful, far-reaching industry standards, without the sponsorship or blessing of a standards body. Successful protocols such as HTTP, PGP and many others, are examples of this.
In any event we believe that the ultimate arbiter of any protocol is its industry usage. Some protocols become accepted as industry standards while others do not, and this is something that takes place independently of whether the protocol was created or sanctioned by a standards body. For these reasons we consider that the endorsement of a protocol by placing it on ``standards track'' is essentially without meaning - it is a castle in the air.
By making its processes available to all, the Free Protocols Foundation places all protocol developers on an equal footing regarding patent-freedom. The success of any protocol can then be determined on the basis of its own merits, not on its origin or an artificial endorsement.
At the Free Protocols Foundation, we consider that patented protocols are very undesirable. A protocol is a general agreement within an industry that things will be done in a certain way. It represents an agreed-upon expected behavior, providing common ground for cooperation among a variety of disparate entities: private businesses, academic institutions, government, and individuals. The protocol allows any of these entities to create products, services, applications, etc., and provides the necessary assurances that these offerings will function and interoperate in a well-defined way. The protocol is a positive, enabling force for the entire industry.
In order for the protocol to play this role, anyone who wishes to implement and use it must be able to do so freely, and without restrictions. The presence of patented components within the protocol places restrictions on its usage, and therefore serves only to undermine this purpose. Furthermore, the presence of the patent brings an enormously unfair market advantage to the patent holder. By exercising his patent rights, the patent holder can gain financial benefit from competing companies who wish to use the protocol, or can stifle competition altogether by denying the competing company the right to use the protocol at all.
We have no objection to companies seeking market advantage by means which benefit the consumer and the industry. Such means include the creation of superior products and services, or the exercising of legitimate patents on physical processes. But we strenuously object to the seeking of market advantage by attempting to lay claim to the protocol itself.
The presence of a patent within a protocol is at best absurd, pointless, and self-defeating. And at worst, it represents an attempt by corrupt business interests to gain market advantage at the expense of the industry and the consumer.
The Free Protocols Foundation is a nonprofit corporation, incorporated in the State of Washington.
The principal purpose of the Free Protocols Foundation is to act as an independent public forum for the support of patent-free protocols. We do this by means of the following major activities:
The scope of activities of the Free Protocols Foundation is limited to those activities which provide support for free protocols, and which oppose the mis-use of patented protocols.
In particular, the Free Protocols Foundation does not develop protocols itself, nor does it participate in the development of the protocols of other organizations. The FPF does not evaluate or provide any commentary on the technical merits of protocols.
Also, the FPF does not make any independent verification of whether or not a developer actually adheres to the processes and procedures of Section 6. The FPF does no more than record the fact that the development organization has made the declaration that it conforms to those procedures.
In addition to its activities undertaken to support the development of patent-free protocols, the FPF may also take actions to oppose the creation and promotion of patented protocols. These actions may consist of any of the following:
We encourage others to join us in resisting the granting and abuse of software and protocol patents.
It is often the case that protocols are developed, or maintained and enhanced, by means of public Working Groups. A Working Group may enter into participation at various stages in the protocol's development.
In many cases, the creation and initial development of a protocol is done by a single Author or a small team of core developers. Once an initial basis for the protocol is in place, a larger public Working Group is then formed, which takes over responsibility for maintenance and enhancement of the protocol. In this case, the Working Group begins participating at stage (6), Maintenance and enhancement.
In other cases, a Working Group may be formed in order to do the initial creation and development work itself. In this case, the Working Group begins participating at the very beginning, at stage (1), Initial development.
Working Groups typically communicate among themselves by means of working group mailing lists, together with occasional physical meetings as necessary. Under these circumstances, it is possible for a large number of contributors to participate in the development of a protocol.
The processes and procedures of Section 6 include provisions whereby patent-freedom can be maintained for a protocol despite its being developed by a public Working Group. These provisions consist of a set of procedures that, if followed by the Working Group, will keep the protocol functionally patent-free. A key provision is that anyone who participates in the Working Group is required to adhere to these procedures. That is, the Working Group must impose adherence to its procedures on all Working Group contributors.
Note that the FPF does not manage Working Group mailing lists itself, nor does it maintain a list of Working Groups which have adopted the FPF's processes and procedures. Though the FPF does provide a mechanism whereby Working Groups may make a declaration that they conform to the FPF Working Group procedures, it does not provide a mechanism whereby individual contributors may make such a declaration.
The role of the FPF regarding Working Groups is limited to that of establishing a minimal set of policies and procedures that contributors may choose to adopt in order to maintain a patent-free protocol. This minimal set of policies relates only to patents, copyright and confidentiality. All other procedures are at the discretion of each individual Working Wroup.
Any Author may make an initial patent-free Author's Declaration to the Free Protocols Foundation relating to a protocol. To make an Author's Declaration, send the declaration to the following e-mail address: email@example.com.
A valid Author's Declaration must include the following components:
Provided the declaration addresses these requirements, the exact wording of the declaration is at the discretion of the Author.
Examples of declarations previously provided to the FPF can be seen at the Author's Declarations section of the FPF website.
When submitted to the above e-mail address, your declaration will be reviewed by the Free Protocols Foundation to verify that it addresses all the above requirements. If it does, it will then be published on the Free Protocols Foundation website, and you will be notified of this by e-mail.
If the declaration does not satisfy the above requirements, then you will be notified of this by e-mail. You will also be provided with a description of what additional information is required to make the declaration acceptable.
In most cases the Free Protocols Foundation will provide a response to your declaration submission within 5 business days.
If a Working Group participates in the development and/or maintenance and enhancement of a protocol, it may make a declaration that its protocol maintenance and enhancement procedures conform to the FPF Processes and Procedures regarding patent-freedom. A Working Group may do this by providing the Free Protocols Foundation with a statement that its protocol development process conforms to the processes and procedures set forth in Section 6.
To make a Working Group Declaration to the Free Protocols Foundation, send the declaration to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A valid Working Group Declaration must include the following components:
Provided the declaration addresses these requirements, the exact wording of the declaration is at the discretion of its author.
Examples of declarations previously provided to the FPF can be seen at the Working Group Declarations section of the FPF website.
When submitted to the above e-mail address, your declaration will be reviewed by the Free Protocols Foundation to verify that it addresses all the above requirements. If it does, it will then be published on the Free Protocols Foundation website, and you will be notified of this by e-mail. The protocol will also be added to the list of those declared to conform to the FPF's patent-free policies and procedures. The list of declared-conforming protocols is available in the List of Free Protocols Specifications and Their Declarations section of the FPF website.
If the declaration does not satisfy the above requirements, then you will be notified of this by e-mail. You will also be provided with a description of what additional information is required to make the declaration acceptable.
In most cases the Free Protocols Foundation will provide a response to your declaration submission within 5 business days.
In this section we define a set of policies and procedures which ensure that a protocol will remain functionally patent-free. Any Working Group is free to make use of these procedures as part of their development process. A key component of these procedures is that every member of the Working Group is required to abide by the procedures.
Because of the difficulties relating to software patents described in Section 1.4, it is not possible to be absolutely certain that a protocol is truly patent-free. The scope of these policies and procedures is therefore limited to ensuring that a protocol is patent-free as far as is practically possible. The purpose of the procedures is to codify the following principles:
In all matters of patent and confidentiality rights and procedures, the intention of the FPF is to benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the legal rights of others.
No Free Protocol Developer shall make any contribution to the Free Protocol Working Group that is confidential. No contribution that is subject to any requirement of confidentiality or any restriction on its dissemination shall be included in any part of a Free Protocol Specification.
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 proprietary 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.