Saturday, April 28, 2007

Open Invention Network (OIN) visits India

Jerry Rosenthal, CEO of intellectual patents company - Open Invention Network (OIN), was in India last week to interact with technology companies in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. During its trip, OIN met with leaders in government, the IT industry and with India IP experts to discuss ways Linux can promote innovation as well as how to better protect Linux end-users and developers. Two Indian companies were announced as new licensees of OIN - and Quad One Technologies. is a partnership between of Vienna, Virginia and Sumangala CreativeTech India Pvt. Ltd. (SCTI) of Hyderabad. It offers call center helpdesk services. Quad One Technologies Pvt. Ltd. of Hyderabad provides offshore software consulting services for the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry.

Indian law does not recognize software patents as of now, though it is under tremendous pressure from the WTO to buckle under. Today, Indian IT companies involved in offshoring and outsourcing for US clients are the prime candidates for joining OIN's license network.

OIN was formed in 2005 by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony. It has more than 100 worldwide patents and patent applications as part of its patent commons. These patents can be licensed royalty-free by companies to provide IP protection to Linux end-users, distributors and developers. OIN, a for-profit company, is one of the many organizations such as the Linux Foundation and SFLC who have set up groups to defend Linux against possible patent attacks. One of OIN's goals is to evaluate software and hardware Linux-based solutions and potentially acquire, for its patent commons, the IP embodied in the best solutions.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

BIS revisits Indian IT standards

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) held their second seminar on IT standards in Bangalore on April 12 where they seem to have acquired a semblance of political rectitude by including participants and speakers from a wider swath of the industry. In contrast to the first seminar held earlier this year in New Delhi (February 21), they allowed competing industry stakeholders to represent their positions on IT standards. Proponents of the Open Document Format (ODF) such as IBM, Sun, and Red Hat emphasized the need for open, global standards. Microsoft with its Office Open XML (OOXML) standard reiterated Craig Mundie's message from his talk in Delhi that standards should support interoperability and innovation should be forged through strong IPR.

BIS's additional director general Rakesh Verma announced the formation of a panel of 30 organizations to work along with BIS to help build IT standards for India. Action items for this panel include identifying relevant international standards documents and creating India-specific standards as needed. One hopes that BIS will keep the process transparent to ensure open dialog and comments by the public and experts at large.

Today the digital world has multiple vendors and multiple standards. From a nation's point of view, choosing only one standard from among multiple non-universal standards may be premature. However, enforcing interoperability via adopting open formats and promoting a level playing field can ensure that competing standards play together and communicate productively. An open standards development process can only enhance the prospects of interoperability. The government's interest lies in having all stakeholders compete fairly to protect and support the consumer's interests.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mystifying Open Source and Open Standards

This article by the national technology officer of MS India represents the kind of misinformation about open source and open standards being disseminated in India. This type of FUD confuses the government as well as the market. It points to the need for all stakeholders in India's open source industry and community to rise up to this challenge.