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.