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OGC IPR Policy: Royalty Free and Unencumbered by Patents

OGC Board Approves IPR Policies To Further Safeguard Open, Public Standards

Wayland, MA, USA. June 09, 2003.

The Open GIS Consortium, Inc. (OGC) announced that its Board of Directors voted on May 27, 2003 to reaffirm OGC's intellectual property rights (IPR) policy [available online at] [direct URL]. OGC's IPR policy is designed to protect the Consortium's standards framework from patents that would impede development of open infrastructure for interoperable geoprocessing. These policies, under review for the last year in OGC, are very similar to those adopted last month by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

OGC manages a global, consensus-based standards process to develop publicly available interface specifications to support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT.

"Our members support our IPR policy because there is a belief that OpenGIS specifications must be royalty free and unencumbered by patents, and therefore freely available to any party - buyer, commercial developer, government agency, or open source developer - that wants to implement OpenGIS Specifications in their enterprise", explained David Schell, OGC President. "The net result is that our market can grow, more organizations can benefit from our work, and ultimately buyers will have greater choice at less risk."

OGC's IPR policy works to:

  1. ensure that OpenGIS specifications are unencumbered
  2. protect the IPR rights of each of its members
  3. make OGC IPR policy clear and available to both members and non-members
  4. anchor OGC IPR procedures firmly in the mainstream of current standard-setting 'best practices'

OGC's IPR policy is the responsibility of its Board of Directors and the policy has represented the consortium's philosophy and practice since OGC's inception. A number of OGC members with diverse opinions and policies related to IPR have worked with OGC staff to refine the written policy since it was originally published. It also takes into account the significant patent policy work undertaken at the W3C, which has emerged as the consortium leader in establishing a pragmatic way to successfully develop royalty-free Web Standards in the current patent environment. The result reflects agreement with the basic goal to preserve a free and open standards-based information infrastructure. At the same time, the new IPR policy respects the patent rights of member organizations and the value their patents represent.

"We are pleased to be able to reinforce the profoundly important statement made by the W3C in defense of the unencumbered use of open, publicly available standards specifications. Without royalty free, publicly available standards, competition is dangerously inhibited," Schell continued. "Further, if a standard is not royalty free, then any one party can effectively impose a tax on fundamental components of the of critical public infrastructure. It is our belief that the greatest benefit of technological innovation is achieved through open, unencumbered competition."

OGC is an international industry consortium of more than 250 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available interface specifications. OpenGIS Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT. The specifications empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications. Visit the OGC website at


Mark E. Reichardt
Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption
Open GIS Consortium, Inc.
Tel: +1-301-840-1361

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See details in the news story: "OpenGIS Consortium Adopts Revised Royalty-Free Intellectual Property Rights Policy." General references in: (1) "Patents and Open Standards"; (2) "Geography Markup Language (GML)."

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