The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is organising a workshop on the contradiction between FRAND intellectual property rights (patents) and open source software. The organisation, one of the key players in European standardisation, also hopes to increase cooperation with open source communities.
The workshop will take place on 16 September in Sophia Antipolis, in the south of France. FRAND was one of the topics of last year’s ETSI summit on open source and standardisation. “We felt that this important subject needed a workshop on its own”, the organisation explained. “We don’t see there’s a competition between FRAND and open source”, the organisation explains, “they’re complementary and each has its place at different stages in the development cycle.”
ETSI’s position on FRAND is not under discussion, the organisation commented. “Our workshops and conferences have no power to change our policies or rules of procedure. Any decisions on our IPR policy along with the rest of our Rules of Procedure are made by our General Assembly.”
For open source developers, the licencing terms of ICT standards using FRAND can make it impossible for the standards to be implemented, open source licence specialists argue (for example here and here).
Mind the gap
This year, speakers include McCoy Smith, Open Source Legal Director at chip manufacturer Intel, David Marr, head of the legal department at Qualcomm, a manufacturer of mobile phone computer chips, and Carlo Piana and Ashwin van Rooijen, two lawyers specialised in free and open source software.
At last year's workshop, Simon Hicks, Chairman of the ETSI General Assembly, and the UK representative to the European Commission’s Multi-Stakeholder Platform for ICT standards, concluded that standards developing organisations needed to bridge the gap with open source communities. Mr Hicks said that standards developments needed to move towards approaches used by the open source community, as this will not easily happen the other way round. The two have complementary, not competitive, strengths, he said. “Standards facilitate interoperability, while open source encourages innovation.”