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The IEEE-SA is tackling thorny standard-patent issues

Posted by Karen B on July 23rd, 2014

One of the most – if not *the* most – contentious and complicated aspects of standardization is when patents are involved. The courts are full of cases that involve Standard-Essential Patents, which are patents that will necessarily be infringed upon when a standard is implemented.

In October 2012, the United States Department of Justice set out “Six ‘Small’ Proposals for SSOs Before Lunch” as part of an international roundtable discussion in Geneva. The DoJ asked for Standards-Setting Organizations to try to help prevent unnecessary and inappropriate lawsuits from clogging the judicial system. The Deputy General of Competition within the European Union has expressed similar concerns.

An important, related activity is underway. The IEEE Standards Association is updating its patent policy with the goal of ensuring an appropriate balance between the interests of technology developers, standards implementers, and consumers.

Since the last update of IEEE-SA’s patent policy, which was implemented in 2007, there has been worldwide attention from judicial and regulatory bodies in three major areas as they relate to standards:

- how rights to use technology (patents) are transferred

- what are “reasonable” patent licensing terms

- when is it appropriate to issue injunctions

The IEEE-SA is well-positioned to tackle these thorny issues for at least three reasons. It was the first standards-setting/developing organization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a patent office (the European Patent Office in 2010) to improve the quality of standards-related patents and to reduce patent-related uncertainty in the arena of standards.

The IEEE-SA provide a neutral environment in which standards are developed. It is based on five principles for standards development: due process, consensus, transparency, balance, and openness.The IEEE-SA has been asked to provide its opinion on standards and patents in several jurisdictions, including testifying at a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on standard-essential patents.

The view of the IEEE-SA is that policies related to standards and patents should be as clear as possible and broadly applicable. Ultimately, this opens the door to increased adoption of standards.

Other standards organizations have been wrestling with the issues related to patents and standards. IMHO, the IEEE-SA has made greater strides and not shied away from tough challenges. They are updated their patent policy through a rigorous process of gathering and addressing public comments. The fourth round has just closed. Updates to the policy will be approved through the IEEE-SA’s governing bodies, its Patent Committee, its Standards Board, and finally it Board of Governors.

If you’d like to see the extensive dialog and the current draft of the updated patent policy, it’s located in the IEEE-SA Patent Policy Dialogue web area.

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Posted in 1. Life in the Standards Lane, 2. Skirmishes, Battles and All-Out Wars | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “The IEEE-SA is tackling thorny standard-patent issues”

  1. Jerry Gipper says:

    VITA has been breaking new ground in the area of disclosure and licensing of patents in standards, becoming the first standards developer in the world to receive guidance for ‘ex ante’ procedures from any legal authority. The patent policy is included as part of the VSO Policies and Procedures.

    The policy has significant impact in two areas. The first is the change from a voluntary system to a mandatory system of disclosing of essential patents and patent applications. The second area of impact is the Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) disclosure of maximum fees or royalties and the most restrictive license terms for licenses to technology essential to implementation of a standard that is in development by a working group. Members to new working groups that form have 60 days to disclose essential patents or patent applications and license terms while members in existing working groups have 30 days.

    The objective of this policy change is to eliminate patent ambush. VSO working groups are expected to make sound technical and business decisions. Patent ambushes can delay or undermine the acceptance of new standards.

    In 2006, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued or reviewed these documents related to VITA and VSO activity.
    • DOJ news release from October 30, 2006
    • DOJ business review letter dated October 30, 2006, referenced in the news release
    • Implementation Plan for VITA’s Revised Patent Policy posted December 18, 2006

    In addition to the DOJ, there are other government agencies and other organizations reviewing VITA procedures, approval letters, and other documentation.

    The VITA Board of Directors approved the changes to section 10 of the VSO Policies and Procedures on 21 November 2006.

    On 17 Jan 2007, these changes were voted on and approved by the VSO, and the VITA Board of Directors and VITA attorneys were immediately informed of the results. VITA attorneys subsequently informed ANSI counsel and the ExSC (Executive Standards Council of ANSI), and submitted the required documentation in accordance with ANSI procedures and policies concerning “maintenance of accreditation”.

    On 30 January 2007, a joint FTC/DOJ informational hearing was held, which VITA attorneys attended.

    On 31 May 2007, the ExSC of ANSI announced approval of the new policies and re-accreditation of VITA as an ANSI standards developer, effective as of May 22, 2007.

    The VITA Standards Organization is currently operating under these approved policies and procedures, beginning with the January 2007 VSO meeting immediately after approval.

    VITA continues to lead in the effort to make the development of open architecture standards for computing even more effective. Visit http://www.vita.com/Disclosure to learn more.

  2. Karen B says:

    Thanks, Jerry. This is really good information, and I’ve shared it with the IEEE-SA Patent Committee. I wish VITA much success in the future.

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When will the Internet of Things arrive?

Posted by Karen B on April 22nd, 2014

The discussion about the Internet of Things is nothing but lively. Already companies and standards organizations are developing new standards and leveraging existing ones to make IoT a reality. Here’s an article from CNN.com about Qualcomm’s move to create an interoperable platform for IoT with a couple statements from me. (The comments from the general public are quite entertaining; take a look.) For IoT to become a reality, standards will be the key to success.

One of the interesting debates is about when IoT will become mainstream. Some believe it will be 10-15 years or maybe never. Others say it has already arrived – at least partially for early adopters.

Given that standards are required to bring IoT to everyone, what other factors could hold back IoT from being broadly adopted? At least three come to mind.

image Durable goods

Yes, durable goods are holding IoT back. Why? It’s relatively inexpensive for manufacturers to include a Wi-Fi feature in a major appliance such as a refrigerator or washing machine, and it shouldn’t raise the price appreciably. It would be nice to know via smartphone alert that the refrigerator door is ajar and the food is beginning to spoil, or that the clothes have been washed, have been in the machine for a day, and are starting to grow mildew. But is this compelling enough to a consumer to throw out perfectly good major appliances that have years of life still in them in favor of fancy (and expensive!) new ones? Most likely, no. Instead, a sizable purchase of an IoT-ready appliance will be several years down the road.

image The creepy factor

Privacy and security are an important consideration when it comes to IoT. People don’t want Big Brother watching them through their smart electric meters, and they worry that Google glass wearers are recording their every move. And how scary is it to see a car on the highway with no driver? As governments are forced to become more transparent in their surveillance activities and as product developers build in security protocols, people will fear less and adopt more IoT devices. But etiquette will need to be established as well. Respectful use of cameras and publishing will add a behavioral aspect to the Internet of Things. As for self-driving cars, they are in their infancy but if they prove themselves to be trustworthy, i.e., significantly fewer crashes than manned automobiles, there may come a time when old-timers say, “Remember back in the day when we had to drive our own cars?”

image Government regulations

Governments play a very big part in our lives, for better or for worse. (I think it’s both.) They have a lot of say when it comes to our health and safety, somewhat less when it comes to our consumer desires. Because IoT has aspects of health and safety, government regulations have a huge potential for slowing down IoT in certain spaces. A good example is in the area of wearable devices that monitor our physical well-being. A gadget that measures how many steps a person takes or how high their heart rate is during exercise is purely a consumer product.. But connected via Wi-Fi to a doctor’s office for patient monitoring and care, it becomes something altogether different. Any device that deals with hospitals or doctors must obtain approval from the FDA before it can go on the market because it’s considered to be a medical device. FDA approval can take 10 years, so don’t expect to see an abundance of health applications in IoT for a while.

IoT when?

Decades ago, the talk was about the future “Information Highway” and all its implications. Today that term has disappeared, and we live in a world where the Internet is simply a part of everyday life. To me, the Internet of Things will have arrived when “IoT” is no longer a part of our vocabulary. What do you think?

 

 

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2 Responses to “When will the Internet of Things arrive?”

  1. Daniel Payne says:

    The media have captured the newest three letter acronym IoT, and the “Internet of Things” has a certain ring to it that is appealing to a broad audience. The end-uses for IoT are highly fragmented and we’re all waiting for new product categories to emerge.

    Right now I’m trying to get my Sony Bluray player to connect with Netflix on WiFi, however the servers at Sony are over-run with traffic, so I cannot connect. My present-day IoT experience shows that reliability and transparency are a big deal for consumers, and that many Sony users are simply buying another device like Roku to get Netflix to work. If vendors like Sony cannot satisfy their users then they will lose big time revenue on any future product development.

  2. Karen B says:

    You are so right, Daniel. The Internet of Things should drive cooperation among product suppliers in an unprecedented way.

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An Internet of Things event for you

Posted by Karen B on April 2nd, 2014

Coming soon – April 10th, 2014 to be exact – is an Internet of Things event you might find informative.

Hosted by SEMI, the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the semiconductor industry, at their headquarters in Silicon Valley, the morning event promises to be interesting.

The event’s title, “The Silicon Valley Breakfast Forum: Internet of Things (IoT) – Driving the Microelectronics Revolution”, is a mouthful and yes, continental breakfast is included.

We are going to talk about what IoT means and what challenges we face from multiple perspectives: standards, EDA, the market, manufacturing, and IP.

Here is the registration link with more information.

I hope you can join us!

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Snowden and Standards

Posted by Karen B on March 11th, 2014

No matter what you think about Edward Snowden – sinner, saint, or something else – he had some interesting things to say yesterday at the SXSW interactive festival. He broadcasted live from Russia via Google+ Hangout into several large halls in the Austin Convention Center which were packed with thousands of people. The session was sponsored by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and the discussion included two gentlemen from the ACLU, Ben Wizner and Chris Soghoian.

What caught my attention most was the mention of technical standards. When Snowden was asked why he was speaking to the technology community, not the policy makers, he said that technologists can enforce our rights for technical standards.

There were several references to the “back door” that the NSA allegedly put into encryption standards, and that mass surveillance is occurring in other countries too, not just the U.S. The issue of privacy and security is a global issue. Snowden said these governments “are setting fire to the future of the Internet”. And the issue is one that technologists can help to address. “The people who are in this room now, you guys, are all the firefighters and we need you to help us fix this,” he stated.

Snowden postulated that mass surveillance can be made so expensive as to be undesirable – through changes in technical standards. It was a call to action when he talked about the commitments we can make today to “protect and enforce our liberties through technical standards to allow us to reclaim the open and trusted”.

One of the initiatives that I am becoming involved in with the IEEE is to rebuild trust in the Internet. Without an open and trusted Internet, the future of technology and humanity will not be what we hope for nor expect. I invite you to join me as the IEEE Internet Initiative takes shape.

Here is the recording of the SXSW broadcast:

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A major milestone – new variation standard established for Liberty

Posted by Karen B on January 22nd, 2014

Here’s to the New Year 2014 for The Standards Game, and kudos to all for your accomplishments in 2013.

image 2013 proved to be a fruitful year for the Liberty Technical Advisory Board (LTAB), an IEEE-ISTO industry standards board, which guides the open-source Liberty™ library modeling standard, an important and essential component to the chip design cycle. Five new members were added to LTAB that comprises of representatives from the EDA, IP, foundry, and semiconductor design community. Further news and details of LTAB can be obtained from its website.

One of the focus activities for the LTAB members in 2013, no easy task I might add, was to incorporate the on-chip variation extensions as part of the Liberty standard. The multiple variation formats in use by different tools clearly was hampering designer productivity. (Sound familiar?) The board met multiple times and successfully consolidated various proprietary modeling formats such as advanced on-chip variation (AOCV), parametric on-chip variation (POCV), and statistical on-chip variation (SOCV) into a single unified open-source standard for industry-wide use, known as the Liberty Variation Format (LVF) extensions. The standardization of OCV extensions in Liberty is a major milestone for the LTAB. It is not just about a format, but it’s about technology enablement and, just as important in my opinion, collaboration across the industry. image

I look forward to updating you on LTAB’s continued collaboration in 2014 to evolve the LVF extensions to better support designs at advanced process nodes.

 

 

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End of the year standards news and interesting links

Posted by Karen B on December 20th, 2013

Here’s a small, end-of-the-year collage of standards news and links you might find interesting. It’s been quite a year, and 2014 is sure to be even better.

Photos from the first annual IEEE Symposium on EDA Interoperability

In light of current events surrounding allegations of government spying, the OpenStand principles could help restore the public’s faith in standards. Here’s a statement about it.

image

And “transparency rules” says the World Wide Web Consortium.

image

Industries such as ours are teaching the health community how to develop effective global health technology standards.

image

The IEEE Standards Association annual awards ceremony was a blast. I got to pass out the awards and tell funny stories about each recipient. Pictures to come.

Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2014 to you and your loved ones, with love from The Standards Game.

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Wake up, Europe! Open, market-driven standards can help you

Posted by Karen B on October 24th, 2013

Recently I participated in the 5th European Innovation Summit, held in Brussels at the European Parliament. The purpose of the annual summit is to bring perspectives from industry, academia, and government on how Europe can become more innovative. Innovation leads to industry, industry leads to jobs, jobs lead to a better economy. The theme of the event was “The Place for Debate on the Future of Innovation in Europe”.

My message? That leveraging open, market-driven standards can help fuel Europe’s innovation and create new markets.

It was a thought-provoking summit where I learned a lot and hopefully left behind some valuable information about the benefit of market-driven standards.

Here are some photos from the event. (Yes, I’m in all of these pictures, sometimes in a “Where’s Waldo” way.)

opening

Opening ceremony. Lambert van Nistelrooy, Chair of the Governing Board, Knowledge for Innovation Forum of the European Parliament, speaking.

horizons

Horizon 2020: from intentions to impact. Panelists speaking about a new program for research and innovation.

energy

Energy transition: opportunities for young people. Small group discussions about the future of energy.

DSC03769 (2) standards1

Beyond Horizon 2020: from funds to market. Avoiding the “valley of death” from research to market, and open, market-driven standards can help.

DSC03789 (2)

Standardization leading to innovation. The OpenStand modern paradigm for standards.

social media

Social media and innovation. Speakers from Facebook and SonicAngel.

closing

Closing ceremony. Knowledge for Innovation sponsors, Friedhelm Schmider, President, and Roland Strauss, Managing Director. That’s me on the right, fading fast.

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The new kid on the EDA interoperability block

Posted by Karen B on October 15th, 2013

There’s a new kid on the EDA interoperability block. It’s the IEEE Standards Association’s Symposium on EDA Interoperability. It will be held on October 14, 2013 October 24, 2013 at the TechMart in Santa Clara CA USA.

The event is open to everyone and there is no cost to attend. But you do have to register – here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1ao2ZGV for registration and details.

The keynote speaker will be the new Managing Director of the IEEE Standards Association, Konstantinos Karachalios. I work with Dr. Karachalios closely, and I think you’ll find him fascinating. He brings a global view of “technology governance”, rooted in standards from the IEEE and other standards-developing organizations. He is an eloquent and thought-provoking speaker, perfect to kick off the new symposium which will be an annual event.

Topics to be discussed at the symposium include power management, semiconductor IP interoperability, and custom design flows (meaning custom/analog design, not build-your-own flow).

A special “unconference” session will wrap up the day’s events. I participated in one of these a while ago, and it was not only a good opportunity to share ideas, but it was also quite fun.

Did I mention that lunch is included? Who says there’s no such thing as a free meal? ;)

I hope you can join me for the premiere episode of the IEEE-SA Symposium on EDA Interoperability.

image

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On the road and open Internet standards

Posted by Karen B on October 11th, 2013

The Standards Game has been on the road, participating in global events and activities that are shaping the future. (By “The Standards Game” I mean me – as President of the IEEE Standards Association, I’m exposed to all kinds of opportunities. Too bad I’m only one person as I’d like to participate in all of them.)

Embedded image permalinkLast November, I attended the Global Standards Symposium in Dubai. During a month-long series of meetings and work projects, there was concern about governments trying to take control over the standards that make the Internet work. Fortunately, this did not come about and the message of open, market-driven standards continued to gain momentum.

At the GSS, I met Monique Morrow of Cisco. She’s a fascinating and accomplished leader. Here’s what she says about not regulating the Internet (scroll to 58 seconds into the video): Monique Morrow, Distinguished Engineer. Here’s a related article about Cisco’s endorsement of open, market-driven standards.

In March of this year, I interviewed Russ Housley, the then chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force. Russ is now the chair of the Internet Architecture Board. In this video, Russ told me how some of the Internet standards are developed and maintained. He, too, speaks in support of open, market-driven standards.

 

As I continue my journey with the IEEE-SA, I’ll be a proud advocate of the OpenStand paradigm of modern, global standards. It’s the paradigm that we in the EDA industry have leveraged since our inception.

 

 

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Who would have thought – standards and SXSW?

Posted by Karen B on April 3rd, 2013

The South-by-Southwest is well known for its film, music, and interactive tracks. The annual SXSW festival (which sounds much more fun than “conference”) is held in Austin, Texas USA. This year it include more than 5,000 events that took place all over the city of Austin.

I had always wanted to attend SXSW to see, hear, and experience the latest trends. Keeping up with the times keeps me excited about the world (and keeps me young at heart). This year, I had the opportunity, not only to attend, but to participate. Because of standards. Really.

The IEEE put on an “Open Future Series” that included a panel on the Internet of Things. The IoT will be enabled through standards, and I was fortunate to be asked to chair the panel. Little did I know that the topic of open standards would be so interesting to those attending and covering SXSW.

Here are a few of the articles, videos, and slides from SXSW and shortly thereafter that deal with the value of open standards:

Tim Berners-Lee on the making of new worlds (article)

Tim Berners-Lee Explains the Necessity of Open Web Standards (article & video)

Tim Berners-Lee and Karen Bartleson on Open Standards: SXSW Forbes Exclusive (YouTube video, same as above)

Two good infrastructure considerations for the internet of things (article)

Digital Telepathy: When Every Thing Connects (panel abstract)

Digital Telepathy: When Every Thing Connects (slides)

Standards: The Connective Tissue Behind the Internet of Things

Revolutionary Technologies Take the Stage at SXSW (article)

Standards: The Jedi Force Behind the Internet of Things (blog post)

And here is another gentleman that I met at SXSW who used standards to change our world, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet:

Bob Metcalfe

When standards are part of a huge convention like SXSW, those of us who play the standards game feel like we have arrived. :)

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2 Responses to “Who would have thought – standards and SXSW?”

  1. Mary McKiel says:

    Excellent! Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Karen says:

    Thanks, Mary! Hope all is well with you.

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