Frequently Asked Questions
IBM's Interoperability Specifications Pledge
What is the Interoperability Specifications Pledge?
IBM is committing not to assert its patent claims that are required to implement the listed open specifications as long as the implementer reciprocates. The royalty-free non-assert promotes accessibility to and success of the listed specifications in a manner that is convenient and beneficial to implementers, industries, and entities that are networked around and rely on the listed specifications.
How does the Interoperability Specifications Pledge work?
You don't have to do anything to activate the Interoperability Specifications Pledge. No terms to negotiate, no payment, no signature, no notice to IBM. Unless you assert patent claims against a listed specification(s), the Interoperability Specifications Pledge is there.
Why is IBM making this Pledge?
IBM is making this Pledge to encourage broad adoption of open specifications for software interoperability. Broad implementation of these specifications can dramatically improve our customers' ability to communicate data within and between their enterprises.
What is meant in the Pledge by "discretionary extensions"?
Discretionary extensions are sections of a specification that are optional. Within these optional sections, are elements that are required to be implemented in order to be fully compliant with the extension. These are sometimes called "normative portions" of optional extensions.
What specifications are included on the list covered by the Interoperability Specifications Pledge
IBM has initially selected a basic set of open specifications that promote software interoperability. In some cases, IBM had made a royalty-free patent commitment to these specifications. Others are now being included under the Interoperability Specifications Pledge to help promote increased software interoperability.
How will IBM address additional specifications or new versions of specifications on the list?
IBM will evaluate new versions or additional specifications for inclusion based on their consistency with the objectives of this Pledge which is to support widespread adoption of open specifications that enable software interoperability for our customers, and may, from time to time, make additional Pledge.
How does the Pledge benefit consumers, users, and implementers?
This Pledge simplifies use of these specifications by removing the requirement to obtain a license from IBM. The Pledge applies unless a party asserts Necessary Claims against other customers, users, or implementers. The philosophy is not just to protect IBM, but to protect all users of these open specifications. IBM intends to help keep the listed open specifications open and available to consumers, users and implementers (even if they are competitors of IBM) by covering the aggregate list, not just one specification at a time.
There is a specification which I believe supports software interoperability. Why don't I see it in the Interoperability Specifications Pledge list?
The list is based on those specifications which IBM has judged to be of importance in addressing our customers' software interoperability requirements. There may be cases where IBM has not participated in the development of a specification and therefore has not considered adding that specification to the list. In other cases, there may be multiple specifications which address the same, or very similar technology and we have selected the specification which we believe offers the maximum benefit to our customers. In some cases, it could be just a matter of time until a specification is covered in a subsequent Pledge.
How will this affect Open Source implementations using these specifications?
Open source software distributors will find the Interoperability Specifications Pledge much friendlier to their needs since all of the downstream recipients of their implementations will be able to benefit from the Interoperability Specifications Pledge, individually, without having to depend on the distributor for a license, or needing to contact IBM to obtain one.
What about my customers, how will this affect them?
Your customers will be able to benefit from the Interoperability Specifications Pledge in the same way you do. This Pledge applies to each implementer personally; it does not flow through the process of distribution, ensuring that each of your customers benefits from it, even if there is a problem upstream or downstream in the chain.
I thought IBM already made these available royalty-free? What's the difference between royalty-free and a Pledge not to assert patents?
A "non-assert" Pledge makes it even easier for adopters to use the technology since they now needn't go through the administrative steps of obtaining a license. Each developer and user is automatically covered by the non-assert.
IBM has previously licensed specifications under royalty-free terms and has published other patent Pledges and non-asserts. How does this Interoperability Specifications Pledge affect those terms?
This covenant adds to IBM's commitments to open standards. We expect, however, that for the listed specifications no one would need to rely on any of IBM's previous Pledges or non-asserts.
IBM has added some specifications to the Interoperability Standards Pledge. Does this mean you are revoking the previous Pledge?
No, the previous Pledge is still in force. You may recall that it was irrevocable. From time to time, IBM may add additional specifications to the Interoperability Specifications Pledge. When we do this, we will publish a new list, but the prior versions of the Pledge will remain in effect. All earlier versions of the list will be available on our website.
What happens if I follow one of the web links (or URL) but it does not take me to the specification version listed in the Pledge?
For your convenience, when updating the Pledge, IBM includes web links for each listed specification. Internet web links and their page contents may change over time. Please be sure you are using the specification and version named to receive the benefits of the IBM Interoperability Specification Pledge.