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Pending patent on part of vCalendar



Greetings. IMC has been informed that Sun Microsystems and IBM have a
pending patent application that they believe affects the vCalendar format,
specifically the recurrence rules. Both Sun and IBM are members of IMC. Sun
has offered a no-cost license to all vCalendar implementors, as described
below. Sun has made the same offer to companies implementing iCalendar, the
next version of vCalendar, and made the announcement on the ietf-calendar
mailing list.

IMC strongly discourages "submarine patents", that is, patents whose
applications are kept secret until they are granted (or, in this case, just
before they are expected to be granted). Submarine patents hurt all parties
who are trying to implement standard protocols. IMC encourages all parties
who have patent applications that are believed to affect open standards to
announce them as soon as possible after filing the applications, and not to
wait for the patent to issue.

Having said that, I'd like to thank Hal Jespersen at Sun for quickly
resolving this issue once it was made public. Sun's license statement below
is quite liberal. Companies who have patents or patents pending on part any
Internet standard should strongly consider following Sun's example and
offering a similarly generous license.

====================

This is to advise the IMC that Sun Microsystems, Inc. (SUN) and IBM
Corporation are joint owners of a patent application pending that
specifically relates to the vCalendar version 1.0 Specification posted
on the IMC website. The full text of the application and allowed
claims may be viewed at URL http://playground.sun.com/pub/cal-patent/.

Because of the recent discovery of additional prior art (the Chronos
specification--ftp://boombox.micro.umn.edu/pub/ietf/), SUN has filed
a Petition to Withdraw the application from issue in order to permit
the Patent Office to consider this newly discovered art. As a result,
the allowed claims will be reexamined in light of this art. Regardless
of the outcome of this reconsideration, SUN is willing to grant a
no-cost license to any person who would infringe this patent solely by
implementing the vCalendar 1.0 specification.

Written requests for licenses may be sent to:

        Erwin J. Basinski, Esq.
        Sun Microsystems, Inc.
        901 San Antonio Road
        Mail Stop PAL1-521
        Palo Alto, CA 94303

In the technology area covered by this SUN/IBM patent, the vCalendar
specification is similar in nature to the IETF's Internet Calendaring
and Scheduling Core Object Specification (iCalendar), for which we
have made a similar disclosure and licensing offer. SUN requests that
the IMC publicly recommend to its members that the use of vCalendar be
superseded by iCalendar as the latter achieves IETF standards-track
status and industry implementation experience.

====================

A signed copy of the above has been sent to IMC.


--Paul Hoffman, Director
--Internet Mail Consortium