[standards-jig] Message from the JSF Board

Peter Saint-Andre stpeter at jabber.org
Thu Dec 19 23:04:06 UTC 2002


On behalf of the Jabber Software Foundation's Board of Directors, I would
like to communicate the following announcement:

******

2002-12-19

Recent news articles have reported that the United States Patent and
Trademark Office has granted a patent to AOL for instant messaging (IM)
and presence technology. This patent (#6,499,344) would appear to cover
most existing IM and presence systems and services. Because AOL could at
any time decide to enforce the patent, its existence could have a chilling
effect on the growth of IM and presence technology, as well as on efforts
to define open standards in this area.

Based on a patent lawyer's interpretation supplied to the JSF, it appears
that there is real reason for concern by the Jabber community as well as
the Internet community at large. The issue is not simply that AOL may file
patent infringement suits against other IM vendors and service providers,
although that is quite possible and would be well within their rights
given existing patent law. Even if AOL does not resort to litigation,
prospective users and customers might avoid adopting or purchasing non-AOL
IM and presence technologies because they are afraid the solutions would
be subject to a future patent infringement suit, as happened with the
patent on GIF images. Finally, the existence of this patent could even
halt progress on open standards for IM and presence, including work by the
Open Mobile Alliance, the PAM Forum, and IETF Working Groups devoted to
SIMPLE and XMPP.

The JSF Board encourages everyone in the Jabber community and the Internet
community at large to assist in countering this threat. One way to help is
by contributing knowledge and supporting evidence of prior art (from
before October 1996) to build a convincing case against the validity and
defensibility of this patent. Other ways to help include providing
up-to-date information about the patent, sharing legal opinions, and
discussing potential counter-measures. To facilitate this kind of
exchange, the JSF has set up a special website at
http://www.jabber.org/aol-patent/ and is hosting an open email discussion
mailing list at
http://www.jabber.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/aol-patent/. Thoughts and
information can also be sent directly to aol-patent at jabber.org.

We strongly believe that this patent is invalid and uneforceable, and that
it threatens the future of open standards and interoperability for IM and
presence. Please help protect freedom of communication by joining the
mailing list today.

Thank you.

The Jabber Software Foundation Board of Directors

Michael Bauer (Chair)
Tony Bamonti
Ryan Eatmon
Jeremie Miller
Marco Palombi





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