IDPF Solicits Member Feedback on Potential IP Policy Change

January 30, 2015
The IDPF Board of Directors is considering the merits of migrating from their current Intellectual Property (IP) Policy, which provides for RAND (Reasonable and Non-DIscriminatory) patent license commitments by members to adopters, to an IP Policy that would provide for RF (Royalty Free) patent license commitments. We consider it very beneficial that, to the best of our knowledge, no patent claims specific to EPUB have ever been asserted to date. While, given the increasing complexity of the global patent landscape, we can have no assurance that this will remain the case in the future, the IDPF Board believes that they should be doing everything they can to keep EPUB free to use, and that moving to a RF policy could mitigate certain risks.  Since developing a new IP Policy is time-consuming and expensive, and since we are already working to increase the alignment of EPUB with the overall Open Web Platform, the primary idea under consideration is to adopt the current IP Policy utilized by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), who develop HTML, CSS, and most of the other building-block specifications of the Open Web Platform.  The W3C policy, which has been stable for a decade, provides for a RF commitment, on a per-specification basis, by members who specifically participate in applicable working groups (rather than the IDPF's current default of a RAND commitment by all members). If a decision was made to proceed, the change could potentially be made as soon as the development of the upcoming EPUB 3.1 release during this year, although it might be more practical to migrate at a later date.
 
There are many points to consider in regards to this including the effort and cost to do a migration vs. the benefits we would receive, and the differing working group processes implied by the W3C's policy. The IDPF Board feels it's important that we continue to move rapidly to develop and enhance EPUB to meet the needs of the many constituencies who are adopting EPUB as the next generation portable document format, so we are also concerned to not create methodologies that would slow down the rate of standardization. 
 
Therefore the IDPF Board and leadership would like to solicit member feedback, pro or con, and of a legal and/or practical nature, regarding this potential change. Again the options currently on the table are status quo (no change) or adoption of the W3C IP policies wholesale (with W3C's blessing), so we primarily request feedback regarding these two options, although please feel free to make other creative suggestions. Please send all feedback to Bill McCoy, Executive Director, at bmccoy@idpf.org. If you are interested in volunteering for a task force to help finalize on and accomplish the change to W3C Policy (if it is decided to go that way), please also let us know about that.  Feedback from members and other interested parties is solicited by February 28, 2015.
 
The current IDPF IP Policy and related policies and procedures documents are available at: http://idpf.org/about-us/corporate-documents . The current W3C Patent Policy is available at: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/, and an FAQ about that policy is available at: http://www.w3.org/2003/12/22-pp-faq .

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