UBL Non-Assertion Covenant
Sun Microsystems UBL Non-Assertion Covenant
At a conference hosted by the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University yesterday (20 July 2006), Greg Papadopoulos, Sun Microsystems Chief Technology Officer and Executive VP of R&D, announced the issuance of a Non-Assertion Covenant (NAC) for UBL.
Sun's unilateral, voluntary waiver of its right to enforce possibly relevant patent claims alleviates the burden upon UBL implementers to negotiate license terms, eliminates paperwork, and creates a favorable environment for the develoment of open-source UBL software. The UBL NAC joins similar declarations regarding SAML and ODF; see http://xml.coverpages.org/ni2006-06-15-a.html for background on these earlier announcements.
The full text of the Sun UBL NAC can be found at:
I am not a lawyer, but my interpretation of the NAC is as follows.
A Non-Assertion Covenant takes Royalty Free up one notch: it is not only Royalty Free, it is also License Free. No need to ask for a license, no need to investigate whether a license is required, no need to think in terms of sub-licensing, no need to figure out how or whom to ask for a license.
The NAC contains what Papadopoulos refers to as a "mutual assured destruction" clause designed to discourage other patent holders from asserting their claims against UBL. It says, in effect, "We won't shoot you if you don't shoot us or anybody else" — not just us, anybody!
It is irrevocable. No one can change or revoke it, not even Sun.
I don't put on my Sun Micro hat very often, but in this case I must say that I am extremely proud of my company for taking the lead on cleaning up the incredible mess that software patents have become. This is the best possible example of how to use patents defensively and the best possible example of how to do things in a manner that is unquestionably friendly to government bodies and open-source software projects.
But one company cannot accomplish this alone. I challenge other companies to help out by supporting Sun's NACs or by issuing similar covenants themselves. That way we'll see who's really interested in restoring sanity to standards IPR — and by their absence, who's planning to abuse the standards process in the case of UBL.
Jon Bosak, Corporate Standards, Sun Microsystems
Chair, OASIS UBL Technical Committee
Subject: Sun Microsystems UBL Non-Assertion Covenant From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 15:52:09 -0700 (PDT)
Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See also: (1) Sun Microsystems Publishes Non-Assertion Covenant for SAML Implementations; (2) "Sun Patent Non-Assertion Covenant for OpenDocument Offers Model for Standards"; (3) Patent Pledges and the Patent Commons.