Network Working Group                                        S. Bradner
Internet-Draft                                               Harvard U.
                                                           October 2002

            Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology


Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of Section 10 of RFC 2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet- Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   The IETF policies about intellectual property rights (IPR), such as
   patent rights, claimed relative to technologies developed in the IETF
   are designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have
   as complete information about any IPR constraints on a technical
   proposal as possible.  The policies are also intended to benefit the
   Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the
   legitimate rights of IPR holders.  This memo details the IETF
   policies concerning IPR related to technology worked on within the
   IETF. It also describes the objectives that the policies are designed
   to meet.

            Portions Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002)

1. Introduction
   It is becoming increasingly common for IETF working groups to have to

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   deal with claims of intellectual property rights, such as patent
   rights, with regards to technology under discussion in the working
   group.  These claims can come at any point in the IETF process from
   before the first Internet Draft has been submitted to after a RFC has
   been published and the working group has been closed down.  The
   claims can come from people submitting technical proposals as
   Internet Drafts, on mailing lists or at meetings, from other people
   participating in the working group or from 3rd parties who find out
   that the work is going or has gone on.  The claims can be based on
   granted patents or on patent applications.  In some cases IPR claims
   can be disingenuous, made to affect the standards process rather than
   to inform.

   RFC 2026 section 10 established three basic principals regarding the
   IETF dealing with claims of intellectual property rights:

   a/ the IETF will make no determination about the validity of any
      particular IPR claim
   b/ the IETF can decide to use technology for which IPR claims have
      been made if it decides that such a use is warranted
   c/ in order for the working group and the rest of the IETF to have
      the information needed to make an informed decision about the use
      of a particular technology, all persons, with certain exceptions,
      must disclose the existence of any IPR that they believe relates
      to the working group deliberations in order to participate in any
      discussions relating to the IPR. This includes copyrights, patents
      and patent applications.

   In the years since RFC 2026 was published there have been a number of
   times when the exact intent of Section 10 has been the subject of
   vigorous debate within the IETF community.  The aim of this document
   is to clarify various ambiguities in Section 10 of [RFC 2026] that
   led to these debates and to amplify the policy in order to clarify
   what the IETF is, or should be, doing.

   Section 2, 3 and 4 of this document address the intellectual property
   issues previously covered by Section 10 of RFC 2026. Sections 5 thru
   13 then explain the rationale for these provisions, including some of
   the clarifications that have been understood since the adoption of
   RFC 2026.  The rules and procedures set out in this document are not
   intended to substantially modify or alter IETF's or ISOC's current
   policy toward IPR in the context of the IETF standards process.

   A companion document [IETF SUB] deals with rights in the documents
   that are submitted to the IETF, including the right of IETF and its
   participants to publish and create derivative works of those
   documents.  This document is not intended to address those issues.

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   This document is not intended as legal advice.  If you would like a
   legal interpretation of your rights or the rights of the IETF in any
   contributions you make, you are advised to consult your own legal

2. Contributions in the IETF

2.1.  General Policy
   In all matters of intellectual property rights, the intent is to
   benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while
   respecting the legitimate rights of others.

2.2.  Rights and Permissions

2.2.1.  All Contributions
   By submission of a contribution, each person actually submitting the
   contribution is deemed to agree to the following terms and conditions
   on their own behalf, on behalf of the organization (if any) the
   contributor represents and on behalf of the owners of any
   intellectual property rights claimed in the contribution.  Where a
   submission identifies contributors in addition to the contributor(s)
   who provide the actual submission, the actual submitter(s) represent
   that each other named contributor was made aware of and agreed to
   accept the same terms and conditions on their own behalf, on behalf
   of any organization s/he may represent and any known owner of any
   intellectual property rights in the contribution.  This agreement
   must be acknowledged by including in the header of the contribution
   one of the statements in section 3.2 of [IETF SUB].

   A. The contributor represents that he or she has disclosed the
      existence of any intellectual property rights which cover or may
      cover the technology, specifications or standards described in the
      contribution that (1) are owned, controlled or enforceable by the
      contributor or his or her employer, or any affiliate thereof, and
      (2) are reasonably and personally known to the contributor.  The
      contributor does not represent that he or she personally knows of
      all potentially pertinent intellectual property rights owned or
      claimed by the his or her employer (if any) or by third parties.

   B. The contributor represents that there are no limits to the
      contributor's ability to make the grants acknowledgments and
      agreements above that are reasonably and personally known to the

3. IETF Actions
   (A)  When any intellectual property are known, or claimed, with
      respect to any technology, specification, or standard described in
      an IETF document , and such intellectual property rights are

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      brought to the attention of the IESG, the IESG shall not publish
      the IETF document without including in the document a note
      indicating the existence of such intellectual property rights, or
      claimed intellectual property rights.  Where implementations are
      required before advancement of a standards track specification,
      only implementations that have, by statement of the implementers,
      taken such intellectual property rights into account shall be
      considered for the purpose of showing the adequacy of the

   (B)  The IESG disclaims any responsibility for identifying the
      existence of or for evaluating the applicability of any claimed
      IPR to any IETF technology, specification or standard, and will
      take no position on the validity or scope of any such intellectual
      property rights.

   (C)  Where the IESG has been informed of claimed intellectual
      property rights under (A), the IETF Executive Director shall
      request from the claimant of such rights, a written assurance that
      upon approval by the IESG of the relevant Internet standards track
      specification(s), all persons will be able to obtain the right to
      implement, use, distribute and exercise other rights with respect
      to an Implementing Technology under openly specified, reasonable,
      non-discriminatory terms unless such a statement has already been
      submitted. The Working Group proposing the use of the technology
      with respect to which the intellectual property rights are claimed
      may assist the IETF Executive Director in this effort.  The
      results of this procedure shall not, in themselves, block
      advancement of a specification along the standards track.  A
      working group may take into consideration the results of this
      procedure in evaluating the technology and the IESG may defer
      approval when a delay may facilitate obtaining such assurances.
      The results will, however, be recorded by the IETF Executive
      Director, and be made available.  The IESG may also direct that a
      summary of the results be placed on-line.

3.1  Determination of Reasonable and Non-discriminatory Terms
   The IESG will not make any explicit determination that the assurance
   of reasonable and non-discriminatory terms for the use of an
   Implementing Technology has been fulfilled in practice.  It will
   instead use the normal requirements for the advancement of Internet
   Standards to verify that the terms for use are reasonable.  If the
   two unrelated implementations of the specification that are required
   to advance from Proposed Standard to Draft Standard have been
   produced by different organizations or individuals or if the
   "significant implementation and successful operational experience"
   required to advance from Draft Standard to Standard has been achieved
   the IESG will presume that the terms are reasonable and to some

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   degree, non- discriminatory.  This presumption may be challenged at
   any time, including during the Last-Call period by sending email to
   the IESG.

4. Notices to be included in all contributions for publication
      The following notices should be included in all submissions for
      publication as an Internet Draft.

   (A)  Disclaimer of validity:

      "The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
      intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to
      pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described
      in this document or the extent to which any license under such
      rights might or might not be available; nor does it represent that
      it has made any independent effort to identify any such rights.
      Information on the IETF's procedures with respect to rights in
      standards-track and standards-related documentation can be found
      in BCP-XX.

      Copies of claims of rights made available for publication and any
      assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an
      attempt made to obtain a general license or permission for the use
      of such proprietary rights by implementers or users of this
      specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR repository
      at or from the IETF Secretariat."

   (B)  The IETF encourages all interested parties to bring to its
      attention, at the earliest possible time, the existence of any
      intellectual property rights pertaining to Internet Standards. For
      this purpose, each standards document shall include the following

         "The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its
         attention any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or
         other proprietary rights which may cover technology that may be
         required to practice this standard.  Please address the
         information to the IETF Secretariat at iesg-"

   (C)  Where the IESG has been made aware at the time of publication of
      intellectual property rights claimed with respect to an IETF
      document, or the technology described or referenced therein, such
      document shall contain the following notice:

         "The IETF has been notified of intellectual property rights

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         claimed in regard to some or all of the specification contained
         in this document.  For more information consult the online list
         of claimed rights at"

5. Definitions

5.1 contribution: See [RFC SUB] section 4.1.

5.2  IETF document: See [RFC SUB] sec 4.4.

5.3  IPR or intellectual property rights: means any proprietary,
   intellectual or industrial property rights, including, but not
   limited to, patent, copyright, trade secret, design, utility model,
   invention registration, database and data rights, whether such rights
   arise from a registration or renewal thereof, or an application
   therefore, in each case anywhere in the world.

5.4  Implementing Technology: means a technology which implements an
   IETF specification or standard.

6.  Disclosure
6.1  How to make a disclosure
   Disclosure of IPR claims is made by sending an email message to iesg- It is also a good idea to send a copy of the
   disclosure to the mailing list of the relevant working group.

6.2  Contents of a disclosure
   The disclosure must be as specific as possible both in the IPR claim
   that is being made and as to the IETF contributions to which the
   claim applies.  The disclosure should list the registration numbers
   of any patents and the file numbers of any patent applications which
   instantiate the IPR claims being made.  If the claim is based on
   unpublished patent applications then that should be stated. The
   disclosure should also list the specific IETF documents or activity
   affected and what sections of those documents are affected. Note that
   this requirement is not is not satisfied by including a blanket
   statement of possible IPR on every submission since the aim of the
   disclosure is to provide information about specific IPR claims
   against specific IETF documents.  IT is also not satisfied by a
   blanket statement of willingness to license all IPR under fair and
   non-discriminatory terms for the same reason.

6.3  Rights detailed in a disclosure
   Since IPR disclosures will be used by IETF working groups during
   their evaluation of alternative technical solutions it is desirable,
   though not required, that an IPR disclosure include information about
   licensing of the IPR in case implementation of the technology
   described in the final RFC is judged to require a license.  It should

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   be noted that disclosures without licensing statements are likely to
   discourage a working group from adopting the technology.

   The following are examples of licensing terms used in past
   disclosures to the IETF.

   a/  Free License:  The IPR claimant will grant any applicant a non-
      exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free license
      to make, use, sell, import and exercise all other rights with
      respect to products or processes covered by the listed IPR.  The
      terms of this license are available for review on the IPR
      claimant's web site.

   b/ Restricted open license:  The IPR claimant offers a Free License
      to the IPR under certain constraints. Constraints that have been
      seen in the past include a restriction of the free licenses to
      only cover implementations of a specific IETF RFC or that limit
      the Free Licenses to people or organizations who do not try to
      limit the ability IPR claimant to implement the specific RFC
      because of other IPR claims.  See [RFC 1822] and [RFC 1988] for

   c/ fair and non discriminatory terms: The IPR claimant offers to
      license the technology under fair and non-discriminatory terms.

   d/ a refusal to license: The IPR claimant will refuse to license the

   Other licensing terms are possible, the above are included as

6.4  When is a disclosure required
   Disclosures are required whenever enforcement of the claimed IPR in
   question would directly or indirectly benefit the individual or their
   employer or sponsor (if any) and where enforcement of the claimed IPR
   would have any effect on the ability to implement a technology under
   discussion in the IETF.

7. "reasonably and personally known"
   The phrase "reasonably and personally known" is used in section two
   above.  It should be read to refer to something the individual knows
   personally or, because of the job the individual holds, would
   reasonably be expected to know.  This wording is used to indicate
   that an organization cannot purposely keep an individual in the dark
   about patents or patent applications just to avoid the notification
   requirement.  But this requirement should not be interpreted as
   requiring an organization to perform a patent search every time one
   of its employees submits an Internet Draft.

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8.  Failure to provide notice
   There are cases where individuals are not permitted by their
   employers to disclose the existence or substance of patent
   applications or other IPR.  Since disclosure is required for anyone
   submitting documents or participating in IETF discussions, a person
   who does not disclose IPR for this, or any other reason, must not
   participate in these IETF activities with respect to technologies
   that he or she reasonably or personally knows to be covered by IPR
   which he or she is not permitted to disclose.  Participating in IETF
   discussions about a technology without disclosing relevant IPR that
   is reasonably or personally known to the individual is a violation of
   IETF process.

9.  The timing of providing notice
   Timely notification of IPR claims is important because working groups
   need to have as much information as it can while they are evaluating
   alternative solutions.

9.1  IPR claimed in contributions to the IETF
   If an author, contributor, or editor of a document being submitted
   for publication as an Internet Draft knows of IPR related to the
   technology covered by the submission, the author must submit an IPR
   disclosure at the same time if there is not already such a disclosure
   on file from the author or his or her employer or sponsor (if any)
   which specifically covers the new submission.  For example, if the
   submission is an update to one for which an IPR disclosure has
   already been made and the applicability of the disclosure is not
   changed by the revision, then no new disclosure needs to be made.
   But if the document is a new one or if the revision changes the
   technology, specification or standard such that it would be covered
   by new or different IPR claims then a disclosure must be made.  A
   disclosure should also be made if the revised contribution negates a
   previous IPR claim. If the submitter learns of relevant IPR in their
   organization, for example a new patent application, after the
   submission he or she must make a disclosure as soon as possible after
   learning of the IPR.

9.2.  IPR claimed in contributions by others
   If an active working group participant believes that IPR owned by the
   participant or his or her employer or sponsor (if any) affects an
   IETF contribution submitted by someone else (including already
   published Internet Drafts or RFCs) then the participant must make an
   IPR disclosure as soon as possible after the realization.

9.3.  IPR known by a 3rd party
   Under section 3(B) of this document 3rd parties that have information
   about possible IPR related to IETF contributions are invited to

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   notify the IETF by sending an email message to iesg- Such a notice should be sent as soon as possible
   after the 3rd party realizes the connection.

10. Evaluating alternative technologies in an IETF working group
   In general, it can be assumed that IETF working groups will prefer
   technologies with no known IPR claims or, for technologies with
   claims, an offer of free licensing. But IETF working groups have the
   discretion to adopt technology with a commitment of fair and non-
   discriminatory terms, or even with no licensing commitment, if they
   feel that this technology is superior enough to alternatives with
   fewer IPR claims or free licensing to outweigh the potential cost of
   the licenses.

   It should also be noted that the absence of IPR claims is not the
   same thing as the knowledge that there will be no such claims in the
   future.  People or organizations not currently involved in the IETF
   or organizations who discover IPR they feel to be relevant in their
   patent portfolios can make IPR claims at any time.

   It should also be noted that the validity and enforceability of any
   IPR may be challenged for legitimate reasons, and the mere existence
   of an IPR claim should not automatically be taken to mean that the
   underlying IPR is valid and enforceable.  Although the IETF can make
   no actual determination of validity or applicability of any
   particular IPR claim, it is reasonable that a working group will rely
   on their own opinions of the applicability or validity of
   intellectual property rights in their evaluation of alternative

11.  Change control for technologies
   The IETF must have change control over the technology described in
   any standards track documents in order to fix problems that may be
   discovered or to produce other derivative works.  Submissions to the
   IETF in which the submitters do not grant change control to the IETF
   must include the appropriate Internet Draft statement from [IETF SUB]
   section 3.2.

   In some cases the developer of a proprietary technology may decide to
   hand over to the IETF the right to evolve the technology (a.k.a
   "change control").  The implementation of an agreement between the
   IETF and the developer of the technology can be complex. (See [RFC
   1790] and [RFC 2339] for examples.)

   Note that an IETF standards track document can make normative
   reference to proprietary technology in some cases, for example, when
   making parameter assignments or encapsulations.  (e.g., "parameter

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   value 1234 refers to proprietary technology A" or "proprietary
   technology B can be encapsulated using the techniques described in
   RFC XYZ.")

12. Licensing requirements to advance standards track documents
   [RFC 2026] section 4.1.2 states: "If patented or otherwise controlled
   technology is required for implementation, the separate
   implementations must also have resulted from separate exercise of the
   licensing process."  A key word in this text is "required."  The mere
   existence of an IPR claim does not necessarily mean that licenses are
   actually required in order to implement the technology.  Section
   3.3.3 of this document should be taken to cover the case where there
   are multiple implementations and but none of the implementers have
   felt that they needed to license the technology and there have are no
   indications that the IPR claimant will try to enforce its claim.

13.  Mention of IPR claims in IETF documents
   Submissions to the IETF where there are known IPR claims must include
   the appropriate text from section 4 above. They should not contain
   any mention of specific claims.  All specific IPR claims must be
   submitted as described in section 6.  Specific IPR claims should not
   be in the affected documents because the reader can be mislead.  The
   inclusion of a particular IPR claim in an IETF document could be
   interpreted to mean that the IETF has formed an opinion on the
   validity of the IPR claim.  The reader could also be mislead to think
   that the included IPR claims are the only IPR claims the IETF has
   received concerning the document. Readers should always refer to the
   on-line web page to get a full list of IPR claims received by the

14  Security Considerations

   Documents describing IETF processes, such as this one, do not have an
   impact on the security of the network infrastructure or of Internet

15. References

15.1 Normative references

   [2026] Bradner, S. (ed), "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision
      3", RFC 2026, October 1996

   [IETF SUB] work in progress: draft-iprwg-submission-00.txt

15.2 Informative references

   [RFC 1790] Cerf, V., "An Agreement between the Internet Society and

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      Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the Matter of ONC RPC and XDR
      Protocols", RFC 1790, April 1995

   [RFC 1822] Lowe, J., "A Grant of Rights to Use a Specific IBM patent
      with Photuris", RFC 1822, August 1995

   [1988] McAnally, G., D. Gilbert, J. Flick, "Conditional Grant of
      Rights to Specific Hewlett-Packard Patents In Conjunction With the
      Internet Engineering Task Force's Internet-Standard Network
      Management Framework", RFC 1988, August 1996

   [RFC 2339] The Internet Society, Sun Microsystems, "An Agreement
      Between the Internet Society, the IETF, and Sun Microsystems, Inc.
      in the matter of NFS V.4 Protocols"

16. Editors Address

   Scott Bradner
   Harvard University
   29 Oxford St.
   Cambridge MA, 02138 +1 617 495 3864

17. Full copyright statement:

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  Except as set forth
   below, authors retain all their rights.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the  purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for rights
   in submissions defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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