Help Fight This Patent-Encumbered IETF Standard

I've written numerous times about the importance of writing to governments about their hare-brained schemes, but this one is rather different. In this case, it's the normally sane Internet Engineering Task Force that wants to do something really daft. The FSF explains:

Last January, the Free Software Foundation issued an alert to efforts at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to sneak a patent-encumbered standard for "TLS authorization" through a back-door approval process that was referenced as "experimental" or "informational". The many comments sent to IETF at that time alerted committee members to this attempt and successfully prevented the standard gaining approval.

Unfortunately, attempts to push through this standard have been renewed and become more of a threat. The proposal now at the IETF has a changed status from "experimental" to "proposed standard".

This is a throwback to the bad old days of sneaking patents into nominal standards. It is yet another reason why such patents should not be given in the first place. But until such time as the patent offices around the world come to their senses, the only option is to fight patent-encumbered standards on an individual basis. Here are the details for doing so:

The FSF is again issuing an alert and request for comments to be sent urgently and prior to the February 11 deadline to Please include us in your message by a CC to You should also expect an automated reply from, which you will need to answer to confirm your original message.

Here's what I've sent:

I am writing to ask you not to approve the proposed patent-encumbered standard for TLS authorisation. To do so would fly in the face of the IETF's fundamental commitment to openness. It would weaken not just the standard itself, but the IETF's authority in this sphere.

At a time when there is increasing awareness of the importance of supporting truly open standards that can be implemented by anybody without recourse to licensing, it would be a truly retrograde step to allow this patent-encumbered standard to be approved.

I urge the IETF to send a strong signal in support of open standards by rejecting the proposal.

Please don't forget: you need to do this *today*.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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